The #1 Reason NOT to Put Your Music on Spotify
Episode 019 of The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast
INTRO: There are no secrets to success, just things you haven’t learned yet. And once you learn them, it’s up to you to apply them. I’m Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and music business coach. Join me as we talk digital marketing, social media, technology and more, and share interviews with industry professionals to help you unlock the “secrets” and take control of your music career. Because we ARE the new music business, and this is the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast.
What’s up? What’s up? What’s up? And welcome to The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast. I am your host, Jamaal aka Boss Eagle, Billboard- charting hip hop artist and music business coach at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to today’s episode where we are talking about The Number One Reason NOT to Put Your Music on Spotify. Before we jump into that, I want to remind you that you can check out the podcast on all of your favorite platforms. And don’t forget to rate and review, that would be greatly appreciated, to help us continue to push the podcast forward. So, without further ado, we are talking about the number one reason not to put your music on Spotify.
And I wanted to talk about this because this is something that just happened recently. Actually, at the time of recording this podcast, it happened today. So I was on a virtual networking event that was put together by a couple of guys in the music industry. It was a big Zoom call and we had breakout rooms and all this stuff. And in our breakout room, one of the artists in talked about not putting his music on Spotify. He uses Bandcamp and basically doesn’t use Spotify on principle. I know that there are probably others who feel the same way, whether it’s Spotify or Facebook even. I know a lot of people are like, I don’t want to put money in Zuckerberg’s pocket, and I absolutely get that. There is nothing wrong if you have principles or something you want to stand on, as to why you maybe don’t want to participate in something. That’s totally fine. This is not about judgment. It’s not about anything like that.
But I do want to talk about this because once we kind of came back to the main discussion, it became a bigger discussion about not using Spotify with this particular artist. And I kind of came to the point where I felt like the number one reason not to have your music on Spotify (or not to put your music on Spotify) is, honestly, because you don’t want to be discovered.
You don’t want to be discovered there. You don’t want to be discovered on a grand scale in general. You don’t want maximum reach.
I know that probably, for a lot of people, that might make you feel a certain way. But let me break it down for you a little bit and help you understand…
We have to remember that Spotify, as of today, at the time of making this podcast, is the world’s largest streaming platform. It is the most used streaming platform in the world; more than Apple Music, more than TIDAL, more than Deezer, etc., etc. But that’s not even the main thing, necessarily. Yes, Spotify is kind of the king when it comes to that. But the big thing is:
Streaming, itself, is the most utilized method of music consumption today!
Think about that. Even if we take Spotify, specifically, out of the conversation, we’re still not out of the woods when it comes to how people are actually consuming and discovering music today — and it’s streaming. Whether or not you like Spotify, Apple Music [or] fill in the blank, the reality is that streaming is still the most widely used form of music discovery and consumption.
People don’t have to look for artists anymore. It’s right there. And, a lot of times, in a lot of cases, it’s free. You can have a free Spotify account. You have to listen to ads, but you can have a free account — you don’t even have to pay anymore. So people don’t have to look for artists anymore. They don’t have to go searching to find out what the latest and greatest is. Because not only do these streaming platforms put them right there, [but] platforms like Spotify and all these have algorithms, which make discovery and consumption that much easier. When you’re listening to certain songs, and certain artists, the algorithms are kind of learning what you like. And when you allow Spotify to just kind of keep on playing, it’s going to keep suggesting things that you might like until you give it a thumbs down or you say, I don’t want to hear this, or you skip it. But those algorithms are learning.
I think about one of my new favorite bands called The Score. Well, I discovered The Score on Spotify. Sure, maybe I would have found out about them later. Since first hearing them a couple years ago, I’ve heard some of their songs on promos for the NFL, and other things on TV. But the reality is when I first discovered them, when I first heard them, it was because Spotify just kept going. It was playing things similar to probably other music that I listened to. There’s another band that I like called Oh The Larceny. The Score is kind of similar in that vein.
By having your music on there, it makes it more likely that you will be discovered by somebody who’s already there, who’s already listening. And I’ve talked about this before: We have to go to where the party is. We can stand on the sidewalk and say, “Hey, everyone, I’m having a party over here. I’m having a party over here.” But they’re not even listening because they’re tuned out. They’re going to the party, where it already is, and that’s on the streaming platforms. At least that’s what it is today. That’s what it is now right. This is where where we are operating, okay?
I want to help you some of you out there understand, and have the right perspective when we’re looking at whatever platform it is. Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, it doesn’t matter: Spotify is not the answer. But neither is any platform. None of these platforms are the answer per se. We don’t own them. We’re just renting the space. It’s kind of like a billboard on the side of the road. One company has their ad up there [and] once that contract runs out, there’s another company coming in to put their ad on that space.
However, streaming is where the party is. And if our goal is to share our music to find our audience, then the question I ask is:
Why would we not make it available — where they are?
If [what we want is] to find our audience, deliver our product, give our music to them and put it in front of them. Why would we make them work so hard to try to find it and to find where we are?
The reality is this (and maybe this is gonna sting a little bit) but no one (no one who doesn’t know you) even knows you exist. They don’t know you exist. No one knows that you’re out there. I didn’t know that the guys from The Score were even born or alive or making music until I heard their music, which I discovered on Spotify. Then I was able to become more invested into who they are and what they’re doing. But no one who doesn’t know you even knows you exist!
We’re trying to have this “crystal ball” approach: “Well, my ideal fan is out there somewhere, swirling their hands around a crystal ball like,
‘Ooh, I know my new favorite artist is out there somewhere in Omaha, Nebraska, and I’m gonna go find them.’ “
No. They’re at the party. What we have to do is put our music where they are, so it makes it easier for them to find us.
I’ve tried to think about a couple of different analogies and kind of the one I landed on, and maybe this isn’t perfect, but to kind of give you an idea — musicians are like home builders. That’s what we are. We’re building a home. We have a tool belt and on that tool belt we have a hammer, measuring tape, screwdrivers of different sizes and types — we have all kinds of stuff, right?
And that’s exactly what we have as musicians. We have streaming: Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, TIDAL. We have socials: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok. We have YouTube. All these are just tools to help us build the house. But you don’t build on the tool. You use the tool to build the house. We’re trying to build our audience and build our career. But we’re just using these tools to do that. It’s not that we’re trying to put everything into Spotify and have a million monthly listeners and all this stuff. Can you make an income and generate revenue with Spotify? Absolutely. It’s not impossible. But the majority of us are not Drake or Ed Sheeran, or Justin Bieber. We’re not trying to build on Spotify. We’re not trying to build our career on TikTok. We’re not trying to build our music career on Instagram. These are just tools in the tool belt to build the house.
Having your music on Spotify and trying to grow your music career on Spotify are not the same thing. Let me say that again. Having your music on Spotify (simply having it there) and trying to grow your music career on Spotify, are not the same thing. But sometimes I think what’s happening is these wires are getting crossed. And sometimes artists are thinking, ‘if I put my music out there on Spotify, if I put it on Apple Music, then that all of a sudden means that I’m trying to build my career on Spotify.’ No, it’s not. You’re just making your music available in yet another place for someone to discover it.
All of these resources are like tentacles. Like if we’re an octopus. And really they’re a lot of times actually the suckies that are on the tentacles for our music business or our career. So maybe one tentacle of octopus is streaming and socials. One of the suckies on there is Spotify. One of them is Apple Music. One of them is Instagram. One of them is TikTok. But the goal isn’t to keep the food out there on the sucky. It’s to bring that thing back into the head of the octopus, right? That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to bring those people in.
We just have all these different avenues for them to find us, to discover us, to know that we even exist and are making music. Our goal is to bring our newfound audience into the fold where it’s warmer. We want to bring them by the fire. That’s our email list. That’s our website. That’s our own funnel that brings them into us. Because that’s where we own the traffic and we control the conversation. Like I mentioned earlier, these other things we are just renting. You don’t own Spotify. If Spotify goes away tomorrow, and that’s all you’ve built on, and that’s all you’ve put your emphasis and effort towards, then you’re done. There goes all of your stuff. Same with Instagram. Same with TikTok. So we’re not trying to build on these things. We’re just using these tools to build the house that we’re trying to build. Spotify, Instagram, TikTok, fill in the blank, should never be the place where we’re trying to build. But rather they are the discovery zones that drive people somewhere else, that draw people somewhere else, that we control. Where we control the narrative. We control the conversation. We control everything. But we can’t do that on these other platforms.
That’s all I wanted to really talk about, because I felt like it seems so clear to me, so obvious. But I know for some people out there, maybe it doesn’t seem that obvious. Maybe for them by having their music on Spotify, that in and of itself , is the same as trying to build on Spotify. No. Pause. Timeout. Stop. You’re just using it as a tool to build your house. We are never trying to build on these platforms. Think about Vine, for example. Vine disappeared overnight. And you have all these people who built up millions of followers on Vine, and then all of a sudden they were gone. MySpace, gone. That’s why we’re not building there. We’re starting there. We’re starting the relationship there, allowing people to discover us where they already are. Instead of having people try to come find a person that they don’t even know exists. We need to put our music where they are, but use those peripheral, auxiliary things like socials and streaming to bring them closer to us; to bring them into our world. These are all just the beginnings of funnels that should funnel people into more of a relationship and an investment in to what we are doing. I hope that makes sense.
If your music isn’t not on Spotify, Apple Music, any of those things, I would suggest that you consider putting it music there.
If you have done so, if your music is on Spotify, I would encourage you just to go back through your Spotify profile and just make sure it looks appealing. Make sure you have a header image. Make sure that you have your social links in there. Make sure you have nice pictures. Use your bio to tell more about you. Tell people where they can go to find more. Put your website in your bio. They’re coming to, and they’re discovering us on, these platforms, but we don’t want them to stay there. We want to pull them off of these platforms. Put your website in your bio let people know where they can find you; where they can get more.
If you want help doing some of the stuff, I have a free guide which you can have. It’s called the Spotify Audit for Artists. I made this probably a year or so ago. I’ve got some YouTube videos out there as well to kind of walk through each point if you just want to watch the YouTube videos. Just go to youtube.com and search for Business Minded Musicians. But you can download a free copy of the Spotify Audit for Artists guide at: SAFA.bizmindedmusic.com. I’ll also drop a link in the description and the show notes as well.
Please hear me when I say that simply by making your music available, that is not the same as saying you’re trying to build, or put all of your effort and emphasis, on those platforms. We are just making it easier for potential fans, our potential audience out there, to discover us, to find out that we exist and make music. And to begin to build the beginning of the relationship where hopefully one day they become super fans. Okay? So with that, go do your action item, God bless and I will see you when I see you. Peace.
OUTRO: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to follow the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And make sure to leave us a rating and review. Also share this episode with other indie musicians who you think it would be beneficial for. And for more helpful resources to help you grow your music business, visit us at: businessmindedmusicians.com. I hope this episode has served you we’ll talk to you on the next episode.
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