In this series, we talk to artists about their experience pitching music for playlist consideration through Spotify for Artists (Learn how here), And how landing on them has affected their music careers.
Toronto, Canada based singer / songwriter Katie McBride Iceland has fans and it’s not just his delightful electro-pop EP, Dream world, Pulling from the serene atmosphere of the surrounding music that can be matched with the aesthetics of such a quiet country. That’s because McBride used Spotify for the artist’s playlist pitch tool to get river-wet. “Garden of love”In the New Music Friday playlist, his song immediately planted in the ears of a wider audience.
McBride’s habit of listening began the process of establishing his voice and finding a wider audience. “I basically listen to ambient music,” she says, “I’m a very emotional person, but there’s also depression. And I think when it comes to my music – the mood is always quite mixed.” To celebrate her different moods and influences, McBride has created one Love listPersonal playlist of her favorite tracks, including a jovial Joanna Brook melody, a special Kayatranada Instrument, and a haunted capella Group Song, among others. Speaking in the world of playlists, McBride took some time to tell us about his experience with Spotify’s pitch tool, how to use his lovelist to communicate with fans, and more.
Spotify for Artists: What inspired you to use the playlist’s pitch tool?
Katie McBride: I had positive experiences with Spotify playlists in the past, but the way my music got on that playlist was random – I uploaded the music and it was featured. This time I wanted to make sure it was on their radar so I emailed a Spotify curator to pick up their music. They let me know about the new playlist submission tool, which I then tried to use Spotify for artists’ websites. I was able to submit that song for consideration in a much more efficient way, and it worked to get the music on some great playlists.
Why did you choose “Garden of Gray” as the track pitch?
I’ve already released a few singles, and then I was releasing the EP, and I think I just chose the last song that I wanted to be a single. So it was the last song that I thought was the strongest as a standout.
When and how did you notice that something happened as a result of pitching?
I think I received an email. I use Spotify for artists, and they send you a little notification there. This is a significant increase when it happens.
Which playlist ended with “Garden of Gray” on your pitch?
I think it has been introduced Canada on New Music Friday And Iceland on New Music Friday, Which I loved. I was excited. It’s really nice to get that encouragement. When that happens, it’s a wider audience that you’re able to reach. Especially if it’s the right playlist, where you know people are attracted to it so they can access the rest of your music and check it out. The Iceland thing was really nice, because I’ve always really loved Iceland, and I went on a trip there last year and love it Sigur Rose. There’s something about this I found on the Iceland playlist this New Music Friday. Especially with that song – it made sense to me. It made me happy, because now all of a sudden, all these Icelandic people will be able to travel around Iceland, listening to that song.
It’s pretty crazy. Sometimes [the playlists are] Canada-specific, but the reach is quite incredible. It’s really exciting, I think, for artists, when they are featured in these playlists. I mean, it was for me.
What was the reaction of the fans?
I’ve definitely followed more people on social media. I don’t know if it’s a weird thing, but it gives your music legitimacy to people alike. Especially when you are an indie artist. I’m just thinking out loud – it’s nicely official. So for those who were already following my music, obviously they were stocked up and then I let new people check it out.
For independent artists, I think it often helps to give you legitimacy in the eyes of people outside the industry.
That’s right. And that was the way to reach this level bigger than me 10 years ago. I have no way to listen to my music. This is a completely different path. Before, you need to get a hit and the radio. [Playlisting] A game-changer.
Now, the music you want to create may have a version of ‘Hit’, because it has reached a lot of people who like it. Basically, it makes it so you can experiment a bit with the form. Because some of the songs I made that did well on Spotify will not get radio play, because radio play is a very specific type of playlist. It is exuberant, it is very instantaneous, it follows a certain form. Where with these playlists, there are ‘radio’ hits for every mood and person.
Has it helped you establish yourself in the Canadian music landscape, or has it helped your career outside of Spotify?
I think I’m still figuring it out, to be honest. One really positive thing is that when it comes to building a team, it certainly exposes me not only to the audience, but also to the people in the industry. In that sense, it can be really good because if you look at me, the music has worked well in this one area. More Canadians have heard my song now. It certainly has advantages. Recently this promoter was hitting me because the release in Spotify State did well. So, the promoter hits me, I get a better gig, and then it’s more exposure. All sorts close to each other. It’s interesting now because I know artists who are like Spotify artists. They get millions of plays on Spotify and then they are not very active in travel. They concentrate on one and not so much on the other. But I think if you want them to be able to influence each other, they can.
How has being discovered through playlists on New Music Friday influenced your growth as an artist?
Reaching a larger audience, being able to draw more people to the gig, getting fans. It can be a bit out of reach, but it can put a bit of pressure on artists to write a hit in the traditional sense to get exposure. Maybe if it was a few years ago, I was thinking, “Okay, I should try writing a radio thing.” Since now I can write an enclosed song and it can go to an enclosed playlist. This gives me, perhaps, a little more freedom in getting exposure in other ways.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
– Matt Williams