How Do Spotify Playlists Work?


Okay, so you’ve recorded new music, released it into the world, and even started touring, but how can you keep reaching a bigger audience?

One word: playlists.

Playlists reach listeners who love you and people who haven’t heard of you… yet, which makes them the fastest way for new fans to discover your music.

So how do playlists work?

There are two types of playlists that Spotify serves up in addition to user playlists which are editorial playlists and algorithmic playlists.

First, let’s talk about editorial playlists. These are RapCaviar, Metropolis, Butter, playlists curated for every mood, moment, and activity.

Playlists are not made by one person based on what they think is cool. Every single playlist is programmed with the audience in mind.
So Spotify has a team of editors and they’re paying attention to listener data to understand which tracks to playlist. Editors are constantly tweaking playlists based on what people are into. So if your music starts out on a smaller playlist and it’s killing it and audiences are loving it, it can move up the playlist ladder to larger playlists from RapCaviar to Today’s Top Hits or Hot Country.


Algorithmic is sometimes a difficult word to say. So while editorial playlists are all about genres, moods, and vibes, algorithmic playlists are unique to each individual listener.

Algorithmic playlists are your “Time Capsule,” your “Discover Weekly,” your “Daily Mixes,” and your “Release Radar.” Algorithms use info on what a fan is listening to help predict what they might listen to next.

And that’s because playlisting is a cycle. Let’s say a new user joins Spotify.

She’s following her favorite artists, browsing new bands, and maybe getting into some of the editorial playlists like New Hip-Hop and R&B.

The algorithms pay attention to her listening habits. What she likes, shares, or even skips. This helps serve up more playlists featuring more artists Spotify thinks she’ll love.

Based on her tastes, Spotify knows exactly what she might like next. They’re usually right. It’s kind of like getting a tip from that friend that always knows what band you’re gonna love.

Algorithmic playlists are pretty cool because they’re crowdsourced. The audience is who’s introducing you to new music so someone out there likes something similar to you and that’s how you’re finding something new.

The playlist cycle never quits. There’s always a new chance to move up the playlist ladder, to reach new people, and to find future fans.

READ NEXT: How to get Playlist on Spotify

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