Moonstrive Media SEO Playlisting

My Spotify SEO Playlisting Campaign

When it comes to Spotify promotion, I’ve tried just about everything short of billboard ads.

Here’s a quick and dirty list of ways to promote your music on Spotify, with links to my posts on each topic:

Today I want to talk about yet another weapon in our arsenal: SEO playlists, also known as ranked playlists.

I learned about them through Janik of Moonstrive Media, one of the few services that have their own SEO playlist networks on both Spotify (4.7M followers) and YouTube (3.7M daily views).

After reselling their services to other promotion services for years, they decided to launch their own. Since then, they’ve promoted over 4,000 major and independent artists and generated over 51M streams.

What is an SEO or ranked playlist?

It’s a playlist built around what users search for on Spotify. Moonstrive has studied the ranking game extensively over the past five years, with a team of 15 employees that search for keywords and curators that benefit from SEO every day.

I asked Janik if he had any advice on potentially renaming my Vocal Synthwave Retrowave playlist for better organic growth.

He told me that my playlist is ranked #25 in the US for the keywords “synthwave retrowave.” Worse, the top-ranked playlist only gets around 10-20 daily followers.

Once a playlist is ranked as the top search result, it usually stays that way, because traffic is a major ranking factor. If I were closer to the top spot, I could double down on advertising to increase my traffic and potentially overcome the leader.

Changing the name probably wouldn’t help. According to Janik, Spotify doesn’t favor playlists that flip their titles to capitalize on search traffic.

So much for that idea!

The beauty of SEO playlists is that real listeners actively seek them out, by definition.

To the degree that your music fits the playlist, you’ll get organic streams from a self-selected audience.

It’s totally safe. Where we’re going, we don’t need bots.

My Moonstrive Media Spotify Campaign

Moonstrive offers a variety of Spotify SEO playlist campaigns, with pricing based on follower reach. In other words, the price scales with the sum total of followers of the playlists your music is added to.

That struck me as an odd choice. I’ve seen plenty of high-follower playlists that are virtually dead, and low-follower playlists that produce impressive stream counts as they grow.

Janik explained that with their playlists at least, streams roughly scale with follower count. And even if they don’t, the team monitors campaign performance on the backend and makes adjustments as needed.

They can’t guarantee streams without violating Spotify’s terms of service. The pricing has to be based on something.

The performance of the campaign also depends on the degree of targeting the client requests. Catch-all “top hits” playlists generate more streams than smaller, more niche playlists.

A high degree of targeting isn’t always possible. Moonstrive determines what audiences are looking for and delivers it. If there isn’t already decent search volume for what you’re offering, they’re unlikely to have a playlist for it.

Janik offered me a promo code for a 4-week, 250K reach campaign, currently priced at $339, for the purpose of this review.

I chose my song “Trick of the Light” because it performed well on SubmitHub and doesn’t clearly belong to any one genre:

I submitted my order on the site and by the next day, my song was on their playlists!

My Spotify SEO Playlisting Results

Looking at my all-time playlist stats for the song, Moonstrive is responsible for 4 of my top 7 playlists:

Summer eletrohits 2006-2022 is right on target, and 90s Pop Hits (Early 00’s) isn’t too far off. Obviously my song isn’t actually a 90s or early 00s hit, or a “hit” in any sense of the word.

Musik zum Lernen is “music for studying,“ so I guess? I’m personally unable to concentrate while any music is playing.

You bet your bonnet that I asked about songs that excite the white folks.

Turns out it was a meme:

Those four playlists were responsible for the vast majority of streams, but there were more:

Hogwarts Vibes? Sure. Janik pointed out that Harry Potter may soon be broadcast on network TV, in which case streams would go up.

Best Songs Ever was ranked #1 in Germany, Mexico, Norway, and Denmark.

Unfortunately, its ranking fell in the US, where most of the streams were coming from. It didn’t generate many streams so it got swapped out.

it ends with us is a popular book, though not popular enough for me to have heard of it.

Life is Strange is a narrative video game from 2015.

50 Tons de cinza (not pictured) is the Spanish version of Fifty Shades of Grey, which I didn’t think was a fit, so they swapped it.

It’s important to remember that the playlist title doesn’t always determine the vibe of the playlist. Moonstrive tries to strike a balance between musical suitability and search activity.

In total, Moonstrive was responsible for 14.9K of the 22.5K streams the track received during the 4-week campaign.

Most of the streams came from Brazil, the United States, and Germany:

Can you tell when the campaign ended?

The song got over 200 saves during the campaign period, though there’s no way to tell how many the playlists were responsible for.

Janik summarized my results as follows:

I would consider the results decent/average. Possible benefits in the future through the promotion are likely.

Keep in mind, this was their first time working with a synthwave(ish) track. Their network does best with rock, pop, hip hop, and indie. EDM not so much, though they’re constantly working to extend their range.

Moonstrive Media Conclusion

Though I’d have no right to complain even if I weren’t, I’m quite happy with the results.

SEO playlisting with Moonstrive Media is effective and safe. They’re completely transparent and willing to work with you to ensure the best possible playlist fit.

Their campaigns are unlikely to overlap with any of your other promotion efforts, and can potentially give your track enough oomph to nudge Spotify into showing it some algorithmic love.

If you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can get 5% off using coupon code “colortheory” (no quotes) here.

I’ll make a small commission, which will go towards further experiments.

Have you tried SEO playlisting? How are you promoting your music on Spotify? Share your thoughts and results in the comments!

52 Comments

      1. Reporting back 🙂

        For me, Rise totally not worth it compared to just spending $250 on my own IG/FB ads. Moonstrive however is well worth the cost! Will be using this for all future singles!

        1. Glad to hear Moonstrive worked out for you!

          If you’ve already got ads that convert at a reasonable cost, that’s surely the way to go. Presumably Rise would improve over time but you’ve already done the heavy lifting.

          Thanks for reporting back!

  1. Hi Brian,

    I am intrigued by this service and visited their site. But have a couple questions to see if my situation would be a good fit.

    There is no contact option on the site.

    Any thoughts and/or is it possible to run 2 quick questions by you.

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    1. Sure Phil, go for it!

      Maybe your browser is blocking it, but there’s a chat pop-up in the lower-right corner of the entire site.

      I’m happy to answer here if I can. If not, I’ll email Janik and ask him!

  2. This is interesting! It makes sense that the playlists that are showing up first gain are accessed first by the majority of people. This is very helpful!!

  3. Giving this a shot!

    Do you know if there’s any pre-flight assessment on their end as far as the quality of the track you submit?

    In other words, would they honestly tell you if they thought your track wasn’t a good fit to begin with?

    1. Good question! I just asked.

      I’m sure your music would meet the bar for quality, but it would be good to know what they do with something that doesn’t quite fit their genres.

      1. Here’s what Janik said. I probably didn’t stress that I was referring to the quality of the track enough:

        There is a small possibility that we turn songs down, in case we really don’t have enough suitable playlists for the song. However, the order would be fully refunded. In case the client buys a big package, we might ask to downgrade the package and refund accordingly. We do everything on a case-by-case basis, but since we grew our playlist network we can fulfill 97% of the orders.

        Update: I asked again about quality specifically and he said:

        If the track is really bad for example poor mix & master or feels like it would make people skip the playlist, we will refund the order and won’t work with it.

  4. It seems like for the cost, especially only getting around 200 saves from 14,500 streams (1.3% save rate), I would think it would make more sense to just run a social media ad campaign. With a good ad copy you could easily close to the same amount of streams but probably with a 20-50% save/playlist rate (this triggers algo playlists WAY harder).

    1. I’ve never gotten a 20-50% save rate, even going full throttle with FB/IG ads.

      I agree with your point though! You’ll certainly get a higher save rate from people who clicked through to listen to your release because they liked what they heard in the ad.

      If you’ve got the time and talent to craft an effective ad campaign, it will likely be more cost-effective for that goal.

      On the other hand, if your goal is more streams, you’ll almost certainly be better off with the playlist campaign.

      If you’re looking to max out your exposure, it doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition! I don’t claim to know the inner workings of the Spotify algorithm, but I believe you need a high save rate AND a high popularity score.

      1. Popularity score is generated 90% of streams, 10% off saves + playlist adds. Fair point on the pure exposure side of things. The best ad campaigns I run get about 40% save rate until it hits discovery weekly then the % will start dropping but imo the results are far more targeted than when I tried the playlist route. Definitely no one way to skin a camel though for sure!

        1. I get way more action from Radio and Release Radar than Discover Weekly, and I can’t calculate my actual save rate anyway because Rise generates 9K saves on release day!

      1. You mean the number of listeners from your ad campaign?

        You could always send them to a playlist of your tracks (Faraday Official Discography or whatever) and track it that way.

        1. I meant that the save rate from the Moonstrive campaign would be higher than 1.3% cause I divided by streams instead of listeners. Oops!

        2. Oh, ha! Well, you managed to sneak it by me.

          I can only see listeners for the past 28 days, but it looks like the listener count is about 75% of the stream count. So let’s say 11K listeners. That puts it up to 1.8%, assuming all the saves were from the playlist, which is a very generous assumption.

      1. Hey Brian,

        Moonstrive responded within 12 hrs with a report stating my track (an electronica track) has been placed into 3 playlists, with a total 88k followers (my package is 75k reach), with 62k + 20k + 6k followers respectively.

        May I know if Moonstrive will swap in and out from various playlists to achieve better result, or the track stays in the fixed playlists for the rest of the campaign? I’ve asked this to Moonstrive, but yet to get a response.

        1. Hi Brian,

          A quick update on my Moonstrive campaign. Unfortunately the campaign didn’t work out well for my electronica track. 2 days into the campaign and I decided to request for a refund after seeing the result, in which Janik acknowledged the fact that the campaign is on the less performing side, and the placements have been rather off. He was quick to issue the refund, which I really appreciated.

          It was overall a pleasant experience, despite the result. Janik has been helpful and understanding throughout. Hopefully they will be able to extend further their EDM network in the future.

  5. Hi Brian, been a lurker too as I read on another recent comment under another of yours blog posts.

    Sorry for that.

    I find this blog entry very interesting, as SEO/playlist ranking is something I have been analyzing and struggling with in my journey on Spotify.

    Any chance you got some tips or hints from Janik on how to (or try to) actually rank a playlist? I am an EDM producer so as I understand the Moonstrive service would not work for me…but in general I do not want to rely on other people’s campaigns, I would rather spend, make mistakes, and manage my process. As you do.

    Best, Gabriele

    1. The impression I got is that unless you’re already close to the top, there’s little point in trying.

      I just scanned our long email thread for tidbits, and what I got from it is this:

      * Keywords are helpful in both the playlist title and description
      * Determine the top-ranked playlist by searching from both the desktop and mobile versions of the app
      * Look up the top results in Chartmetric to see how many daily followers they’re picking up
      * If you think you can get more daily followers with ads, you may be able to overtake the top-ranked playlist

      I’d love to hear how it goes Gabriele!

  6. Interesting article, thanks Brian. I named my best-performing Spotify playlist “The best protest songs of 2022” with SEO in mind. Seems to have worked as I put one of my songs first in the playlist and it gets the most streams of all my songs.

      1. Thanks! You’d probably have success with whatever people type into Spotify’s search engine, such as “The best vocal synthwave of 2022” or “The best synthwave songs 2022″…

  7. Hi Brian!

    Sorry to sound thick but it sounds to me that this is a playlisting service like Playlist Push and Playlist Promotion but using SEO for the playlist names or am I completely wrong here and this is something way better and guaranteed to be more effective?! I have not had great success with the Push and Promotion type ones, and def not with Submithub. (Rise campaign currently in progress, will report back at the end of it!).

    On another note, I gave you a shout out in an interview question about what advice I would give new Indies (skip to Q7!), and maintain my promise that if I am ever offered any kind of award, that you will be mentioned in my acceptance speech for your service to Indies!!!

    1. Thank you for the wonderful and generous endorsement Paula! I’m going to go back and read the whole interview after this.

      The difference between this and Playlist Push, beyond the SEO element, is that Moonstrive will place your music on their playlists. Remember, the package costs are based on the number of playlist followers reached. If for some reason your music isn’t appropriate for Moonstrive’s playlists, they’ll refund you. So yes, Moonstrive is guaranteed.

      With Playlist Push, you’re paying for the opportunity to put your music in front of their curators.

      As to which is more effective, it depends. You could hit it out of the park with a huge curator on PP, or you could totally strike out. With Moonstrive, you can reasonably expect results similar to mine.

      1. You are a hero to us Brian! I cannot imagine how much money you have saved Indies by sorting the wheat from the chaff from the barrage of services that ‘promise’ us results and prey on our eagerness to get heard.

        My next musing about Moonstrive is thus: If this is based on the clever titling of playlists for vibes and moods, rather than just genre, instead of choosing our best track, should we be choosing tracks that best fit into niche moods? Ie, I have a track called ‘Strong Women’. I wouldn’t ordinarily choose it as my best track for a playlist promotion, but I think it would fit into themed playlists easily, such as strong women, girl power, women rule the world, femme fatale, girls just wanna have fun, best friends, sisterhood, feminist anthems, she-hero etc etc.

        But looking at the Moonstrive website, I cannot see a list of playlists to help us decide which track to promote.

        I also searched on Spotify to see if their playlists would come up under their name as curator, but can’t find anything there.

        And so, I am interested in trying this, but it would be helpful to have a list of the playlist titles to match our tracks to. I think this would be more effective than picking a good song that perhaps doesn’t fit nicely and neatly into a mood or life experience because it is too vague.

        Any idea if we can access this info?!

        1. That’s nice of you to say Paula! I should point out that these days I tend to only write about sites and services that I can get behind. To the degree that I’m able to save artists money, it won’t be from pointing out the scammers, but rather highlighting promising prospects.

          To answer your question, Janik told me that you can send the track you’d like to promote to [email protected]. They’ll send you back the most suitable playlists available and you can decide from there whether it’s worth continuing.

          Personally, I’m skeptical that users are searching in volume for many of the themes you named, though I’m sure there are playlists for all of them!

          Great question!

  8. Thanks! I think the younger gen who play out their entire lives on social media like to have a themed playlist for their break-ups, work woes, raves and gym sessions!

    Will drop a line to Janik and will report back on any results and updates!

  9. The results look organic and promising and I’m curious to see how SEO playlisting plays out! Just used your link + code so will report back on results 🙂

  10. Thanks for the article! I used the code today and started youtube campaign for a video that was released yesterday. I’m interested on what playlists they choose for the track. I have no idea what genre it is 🙂 I would call it: 128bpm Melodic Future House with Psytrance infuences.

    This video is one of the first ever AI generated music videos that have “story” instead of psychedelic graphics or infinite zoom that others do.

    1. Thanks for using my code Heba! Sounds like you’re definitely doing EDM, so hopefully they can deliver for you.

      And thanks for the video link. I can’t even imagine how long that must have taken!

      1. Here, EDM means a bit different thing. SHM and Guetta are EDM 🙂
        I just calculated and it took about 30h + nightly renders to do that. But it was a learning process as some of the tools i used have been out just for a week or so. Learning AI tools is part of my day job as visual designer, so can¸utilize those learnings on my own projects too.

        1. Sounds like you’ll be looking forward to an extraordinary electric bill this month. 😉

          It’s nice that you can play with AI tools as part of your job. I have a harder time justifying it!

  11. For that reason i moved my power hungry pc from home back to office 😀
    And you should not invest time yet as the tools develop so fast. It’s now quite time consuming, but in 3-12months there will be a easy to use plugin for AE or something like that.
    Not sure was the Moonstrive 2k test worth it. It’s not started yet and the video has got 1.1k views with no other promotion than few (un-promoted) FB posts. It means people are sharing it. Maybe it will help a bit with The Algorithm.
    I did also now tried the Submithub too for the giggles to see the rejection comments. But the joke is on me: Approval is currently about 75% and even if the rest will reject it would still be over 20%. If those generate anything, it’s thanks to this blog post 😉

    1. I’m not sure if you spotted my latest post, but I’ve already invested a lot of time!

      If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re running a YouTube campaign with Moonstrive? I’d love to hear how that goes!

      That’s a super impressive approval percentage! I could probably pull that off too if I restricted myself to five curators. 😉

      1. Moonstrive added the video to: DEEP HOUSE 2021 Playlist (Best House Music Mix 2022) playlist. Not sure how good SEO is to have both 2021 and 2022 in the same title 🙂 Also, how can an old playlist of 120 songs/videos still generate views? Maybe i’m wrong and it is a great SEO title and people find it via search. Let’s see after a week or so. It’s still quite funny that the track comes before Calvin Harris: By your side.

        About the Submithub. I curated the curators and could only find 12, 3 credit curators where to submit. So far 4 shares and 6 declines. Declines are mostly: Great track, but too long. Or great video but music is not our style. I picked two new song titles from the comments: “Game of Intensities” and “Slightly too static” 😀 It was a test and don’t really see why i would use it again. But for people not making a niche music it might be good and there would be more curators who to submit.

        Yes i noticed you have been using Stable Diffusion. You have noticed that you need to be quite nerdy to get things like Stable Diffusion and Dreambooth running. I use them locally and with RTX 3090 it’s quite fast. These are second generation tools, third generation will be like using Garageband 😉

        1. On YouTube, old stuff with momentum can still go really far! I’m guessing they were trying to get the best of both worlds with that title. 😉

          You’re really doing great on SubmitHub! A very disciplined selection. I tend to operate under the “you never know” hypothesis and blast it out to 50+ curators, hoping to convince several that have declined my music a dozen times already.

          You saw I’m running Stable Diffusion and Dreambooth over Google Colab. I’ve got it installed locally but it’s painfully slow, both with the command line and using an app called DiffusionBee.

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