Why Artists Should Consider Making Their Own Playlists

· 8 minute read

In today's rapidly evolving music landscape, the role of playlists has become increasingly significant. Gone are the days when radio airplay was the primary avenue for music discovery. Now, playlists—whether algorithmically generated or expertly curated—serve as the new frontier for introducing listeners to fresh sounds and artists. For musicians and artists, understanding the power of playlists is no longer optional; it's essential.

The objective of this article is to delve into why artists should consider creating their own playlists as an integral part of their promotional and branding strategy. We'll explore the benefits that come with curating your own playlist, from increased visibility and fan engagement to networking opportunities and even potential revenue streams.

The Power of Playlists in Music Discovery

The New Frontier for Music Discovery

In the age of digital music, playlists have emerged as the new radio—a powerful medium for music discovery. Unlike traditional radio, which often has a limited reach and genre focus, playlists offer a global platform that can be tailored to suit a wide range of musical tastes and moods. Whether it's Spotify's "Discover Weekly," Apple Music's "New Music Mix," or any of the countless curated playlists available across various platforms, these collections serve as gateways for listeners to explore new artists and tracks.

Algorithms and Curated Playlists

There are generally two types of playlists: algorithmically generated and human-curated. Algorithmic playlists are generated by complex algorithms that analyze a user's listening history, preferences, and behavior to recommend tracks. Human-curated playlists, on the other hand, are assembled by individuals—either by the platform's in-house curators or independent playlist creators. Both types have their merits, but what they share is the ability to introduce listeners to music they might not have discovered otherwise.

The Statistics Speak Volumes

The numbers don't lie. According to various studies, a significant percentage of music listeners discover new music through playlists. For instance, a report by the Music Business Association found that 31% of consumers discover new music from curated playlists, while 27% do so from algorithmic playlists. These figures underscore the importance of playlist placement for artists seeking visibility and new audiences.

Playlists as a Marketing Tool

For artists, landing a spot on a popular playlist can be a game-changer. Not only does it increase visibility, but it also provides an opportunity for exponential growth in streams, fan engagement, and even sales. Many artists have seen their careers skyrocket after being featured on high-profile playlists, proving that this platform can serve as a potent marketing tool.

Playlists have become an indispensable part of the music discovery process. They offer a unique blend of reach and personalization, serving as a crucial tool for artists to gain exposure and attract new fans. But while getting featured on existing playlists is undoubtedly beneficial, there's another strategy that artists should consider: creating their own playlists.

The Benefits of Creating Your Own Playlists

Branding: Establish Your Musical Identity

One of the most compelling reasons for an artist to create their own playlist is the opportunity for branding. A playlist curated by you serves as an extension of your artistic identity. It allows you to set a particular mood, theme, or vibe that resonates with your music and overall brand. Whether you're a hip-hop artist curating a playlist of the genre's classics and hidden gems, or an indie musician sharing tracks that inspire you, your playlist becomes a curated space that reflects who you are and what you stand for in the music world.

Audience Engagement: Keep the Conversation Going

Releasing music is often a sporadic activity, with significant gaps between singles, EPs, or albums. During these intervals, it's crucial to keep your audience engaged, and what better way to do that than through a playlist? By regularly updating your playlist with new tracks—either your own or those of artists you admire—you give fans a reason to return, maintaining a constant touchpoint with your audience. You can even take it a step further by offering exclusive content, like acoustic versions or unreleased tracks, to make your playlist a must-visit destination for your fans.

Networking: Build Relationships Within the Industry

Creating a playlist isn't just beneficial for you; it can also serve as a networking tool within the music industry. By featuring tracks from other artists, especially those who are up-and-coming or from your local scene, you open the door for potential collaborations, co-promotions, or even mentorship opportunities. It's a win-win situation: the featured artists get additional exposure, and you get to align yourself with other talents, thereby enriching your own brand and expanding your network.

Revenue and Royalties: A Path to Monetization

While creating a playlist primarily serves as a promotional and branding tool, it can also lead to increased streams and, consequently, more revenue. When listeners come for your playlist, they're also more likely to check out your music, leading to more streams and potential sales. Additionally, if your playlist gains significant traction, it could be featured by the platform itself, leading to even more visibility and revenue opportunities.

Best Practices for Creating and Promoting Your Playlists

Curatorial Guidelines: Crafting a Compelling Playlist

Creating a playlist is more than just throwing together a random assortment of songs. It's about crafting a coherent and engaging musical journey for your listeners. Here are some tips on how to curate a compelling playlist:

  • Balance Between Your Own Tracks and Others: While the playlist serves to promote your music, it shouldn't be solely about you. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a balanced ratio between your own tracks and those by other artists. This makes the playlist more appealing to a broader audience.
  • Consistency in Theme or Vibe: Whether it's a playlist focused on summer jams, heartbreak songs, or workout tunes, maintaining a consistent theme or vibe is crucial. This helps listeners know what to expect and keeps them engaged for longer periods.

Promotion: Getting Your Playlist Noticed

Once you've curated your playlist, the next step is to get it in front of as many eyes (and ears) as possible. Here are some promotional strategies to consider:

  • Social Media: Use your social media platforms to share your playlist. Encourage fans to listen, share, and even suggest songs that fit the playlist's theme.
  • Collaborations: Partner with other playlist curators or influencers to cross-promote each other's playlists. This can significantly expand your reach and introduce your playlist to new audiences.
  • Newsletter and Fan Clubs: If you have a mailing list or a fan club, make sure to notify them about your new playlist. These are people who have already shown interest in your work, making them more likely to engage with your playlist.

Analytics: Measuring the Success of Your Playlist

Understanding the performance of your playlist is crucial for refining your strategy and making data-driven decisions. Here are some key metrics to consider:

  • Number of Followers: This is a direct indicator of your playlist's popularity. A growing follower count usually signifies that your playlist is resonating with listeners.
  • Engagement Rate: Look at metrics like the average time spent listening to the playlist and the number of songs skipped. These can provide insights into how engaging your playlist is.
  • Traffic Sources: Knowing where your listeners are coming from can help you tailor your promotional efforts. Are they finding your playlist through social media, search, or other playlists? Use this information to focus your marketing strategies.

Case Studies - Artists Who Successfully Utilized Playlists

To further illustrate the power and potential of creating your own playlists, let's look at some real-world examples of artists who have successfully leveraged this strategy.

Case Study 1: The Indie Artist's Rise to Prominence

An indie artist with a modest following decided to create a playlist featuring a mix of their own songs and tracks from artists who influenced them. They actively promoted this playlist on social media and encouraged fans to share it. Over time, the playlist itself gained a significant number of followers. This led to increased streams of the artist's own tracks included in the playlist, as well as a surge in followers on their social media platforms. The artist also received messages from some of the other featured musicians, leading to collaborative projects that further expanded their reach.

Key Takeaway: Even without a massive following, a well-curated and promoted playlist can serve as a catalyst for career growth and networking opportunities.

Case Study 2: The Established Artist's Fan Engagement

An already well-known artist used playlists to keep fans engaged between album releases. They created thematic playlists around various moods and activities, incorporating their own tracks alongside those of both popular and lesser-known artists. They also used their social media platforms to let fans vote on the next theme or even suggest tracks. This interactive approach led to high levels of fan engagement, keeping the artist's name in the public eye even when they weren't actively releasing new music.

Key Takeaway: Playlists can serve as an effective tool for maintaining fan engagement, especially during periods without new releases.

Case Study 3: The Genre-Specific Playlist

A hip-hop artist created a playlist focused solely on the genre, featuring a blend of classic tracks, current hits, and some of their own songs. The playlist was promoted through targeted social media ads and collaborations with hip-hop influencers. Over time, the playlist became a go-to resource for fans of the genre, leading to increased streams for the artist's own tracks and a boost in merchandise sales.

Key Takeaway: A genre-specific playlist can establish you as a thought leader in that space, attracting a targeted audience that is more likely to engage with your own music.

Lessons Learned and Takeaways

  • Well-curated playlists can serve as a powerful promotional tool, regardless of your current level of fame.
  • Audience engagement can be significantly boosted through interactive playlist creation and promotion.
  • Networking opportunities can arise from featuring other artists in your playlists.
  • A focused, genre-specific playlist can attract a highly targeted audience.


The landscape of the music industry has been irrevocably changed by the digital revolution, and playlists have emerged as a powerful tool in this new ecosystem. As we've explored in this article, creating your own playlists offers a multitude of benefits that go beyond mere exposure. It's a multifaceted strategy that can significantly impact various aspects of your career—from branding and fan engagement to networking and even revenue generation.

To recap, curating your own playlist allows you to:

  • Establish a Strong Brand Identity: Your playlist serves as an extension of your artistic persona, offering a curated space that reflects your musical tastes and influences.
  • Engage Your Audience: By regularly updating your playlist and offering exclusive content, you can keep your fans engaged, even during periods when you're not releasing new music.
  • Network with Industry Professionals: Featuring tracks from other artists not only enriches your playlist but also opens doors for potential collaborations and partnerships.
  • Generate Revenue: A popular playlist can lead to increased streams of your own tracks, offering an additional revenue stream that complements your other artistic endeavors.

In today's highly competitive music industry, it's crucial to leverage all available tools to stand out and connect with your audience. Creating your own playlist is not just a trend but a powerful strategy that can yield tangible results. So, if you haven't already, now is the perfect time to dive in and start curating. Your playlist could be the next big thing that takes your career to new heights.