Spotify PR Spotlight: Midnite Blaster

You’ll recall from my last installment that streams don’t equal fans. Two campaigns yielded 180K streams, with no obvious boost in followers.

Keep those results in mind as we break down my two Spotify PR campaigns with Midnite Blaster, which should ring a bell if you read my article on SoundCloud promotion.

Vicky Edward, who I worked with before on the SoundCloud campaign that was the subject of that article, offered me a 50% discount in return for reviewing their Spotify PR service.

While their main focus is still EDM, she thought my new-at-the-time synthwave single could do well on movie soundtrack and gaming playlists.

I suggested anime-related playlists as another angle, and she agreed that might work too.

She offered a minimum of 20K streams for 500€, which was about $275 post-discount. That worked for me, but if it didn’t, she was happy to scale the campaign up or down to accommodate my budget.

She also requested that I add her as a “view only” user on my Spotify for Artists account. Which got me thinking — shouldn’t all Spotify promoters do that? There’s only so much you can track from the outside.

Before I get to my results, here’s a broad outline of how the service works:

  • They partner with hundreds of curators, who are free to work with anyone else
  • They pitch to playlists with a eye towards boosting followers and triggering algorithmic plays
  • Most playlist placements last about a month
  • Campaigns usually last 4-6 weeks, depending on how long it takes to reach the number of guaranteed streams
  • Streams slow down once the guarantee is reached, but it’s ultimately up to the curators to decide when to remove the track

My Midnite Blaster Spotify playlist pitching results

I paid on March 24, and two days later Vicky emailed me links to three playlists the track was added to. Communication was great over the entire course of the campaign — she even passed on feedback from a particularly verbose curator who rejected the track!

Here’s how things looked after two weeks:

Spotify Streams
Spotify Top Countries
Spotify Top Cities

I always wanted to be big in Japan! That was thanks to this playlist:

Spotify Japanese playlist

She emailed me the 21st and final playlist link on April 30.

Fast forward to three months since the launch of the campaign, and the track was still on a bunch of playlists:

Spotify Playlist Evolution

Here’s a list of past playlists from Chartmetric, sorted by number of listeners. The first five were from Midnite Blaster placements (click to enlarge):

Chartmetric Past Spotify Playlists

And here is a list of current playlists as of June 26. The top six, and the eighth, are courtesy of Midnite Blaster:

Chartmetric Current Spotify Playlists

Today we’re seven months out from the start of the campaign, and the track is still in a handful of playlists that Midnite Blaster pitched to.

Total stream count? 79.5K. Remember, the guarantee was only for 20K streams.

For some reason the Japan playlist didn’t show up on Chartmetric, so if anything, I’m underreporting.

Unfortunately, all those streams didn’t trigger Spotify’s recommendation engine, and the track only got 147 Discover Weekly plays.

So we tried again with a new track, with the goal of getting algorithmic plays by reaching synthwave fans exclusively. This time I paid 500€ with no discount = $588 USD.

She landed one big and one HUGE playlist, both of which kept the track for a month according to Spot On Track (my Chartmetric subscription was too expensive to maintain 😭):

Spot On Track Removed Spotify Playlists

The result? 80K streams:

Spotify for Artists Top Playlists

Still, the Discover Weekly deities frowned upon the track, with a mere 72 plays. Vicky and I concluded that Stranger Things fans are too diverse a group. Or maybe it has less to do with the playlists and more to do with how the track performed with the first Discover Weekly listeners.

Is Midnite Blaster Spotify promotion right for you?

I’m super pleased with my results and will continue to work with Midnite Blaster. I love the easy communication, the transparency, and the willingness to tackle whatever goal I have in mind.

That said, I can’t say for sure that I made new fans as a result of either campaign. My follower count has risen linearly since my Gleam promotion a year and a half ago, save for a little bump at the end of July which could have been from the second campaign:

Spotify Followers

If you’d like to give Midnite Blaster a try, just fill out the contact form on their homepage. They don’t have an affiliate program and can’t offer a special discount to Passive Promotion readers, but let them know I sent you anyway!

Remember that their main focus is EDM. While they are branching out, they’re not ready for hip hop just yet. If in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

My thoughts on Spotify playlist promotion

I’m not running any other campaigns, so this will likely be my last word on Spotify PR for awhile.

In total, my four songs got 340K streams for about $1250 after royalties.

Obviously I made new fans in the process, but I was doing other stuff too, so I can’t say how much Spotify PR contributed.

Could I have gotten the same results without Spotify PR? Maybe. I’m convinced of one thing:

All it takes to trigger Discover Weekly plays is one perfectly targeted playlist.

As evidence, I direct you to my eight most streamed songs, and where those streams came from:

Spotify PR Results

My most streamed song was the result of a single unpaid playlist add to Synthwave from Space. It couldn’t have been better targeted. In fact, I wrote the song with the playlist in mind!

“In Space…” got 50.8K playlist streams before it was dropped, which ultimately resulted in 33.4K Discover Weekly plays. That leaves another almost 50K streams from other sources. I didn’t pay a cent.

The next four songs are the subject of this article and the last. While streams have continued to accumulate, most of the action came from Spotify PR. Discover Weekly plays were negligible.

You may have noticed that “Sniper” shows 95.9K streams but only 480 listeners, and “Feral” shows 79.5K streams but only 799 listeners. That’s because the vast majority of streams came from singles that I recently removed. I made sure that Spotify matched the album versions to the singles first, but apparently they haven’t worked all the kinks out.

My “Backward” streams are also the result of one playlist. During our first campaign, Vicky and I saw a disproportionate number of plays from one city, so she asked the curator to swap in a different track to see if their playlist was the culprit. It turned out to be a temporary blip, but that song (“Backward”) got 17.4K Discover Weekly plays as a result of the placement — more than the 14.5K streams from the actual playlist!

So when “Avian” came out, she asked the same curator to swap it in, and it’s gotten 26K streams from the playlist so far, plus 2.5K Discover Weekly plays AND 3.2K Release Radar plays. Again, all from one playlist.

Finally, “Glory Days” got 16.9K streams from a friend’s playlist, and not much algorithmic action, even though the save ratio is tied with “In Space…” as the highest of the bunch. I think it’s because those playlist streams came too long after the track was released.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but going forward my focus will be getting my songs on the right playlists.

Have you tried Midnite Blaster for Spotify promotion, or any other Spotify PR service? Share your results in the comments!

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash


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Brian Hazard

Brian Hazard

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31 Responses

  1. Hello Brian, sadly they only offer the service for EDM, because the company seems to be serious and deliver good resultst. I just ordered an “Organic song test run” from organicmusicmarketing.com for 99$ and got no reaction since I paid four days ago. Maybe it’s a scam … Dirk from germany

    1. Hey Dirk!

      I’d never heard of that site, but I see they offer a Song Submission & Review for $99, which they describe thusly:

      “While can’t guarantee we’ll promote your record in any way, we will 100% provide some of the most valuable feedback you will EVER get.”

      The Organic Song Test Run looks like a big nothingburger too: “We will get your song in the hands of curators and within just a week you should have a gauge on how strong your song is doing!”

      Their client list looks too good to be true, with zero testimonials. Most troubling, I don’t see any actual names of the people who work there. It’s just “we” this and “we” that.

      Hopefully my concerns are unfounded, and you’ll get a useful report within a week, like they promise!

  2. It’s very difficult to know which companies to trust because there are so many offering the ‘same’ services, but some are legit and others are scams, and unless you know from a trusted source which is which you have to fall in a few traps along the way! Articles like this are a big help.

  3. I guess a question is… if it doesn’t make money on a net basis, what’s the point? In other words, what’s the point in having a lot of streams if the process actually costs you money in the end? I think if it’s important to have some minimum number of streams in order to not appear completely irrelevant in order to help secure a sync deal (that is, get paid for use of your songs in TV/film/ads/etc) it makes sense. But outside of some ancillary commercial tie-in that results in getting paid… it doesn’t make sense to me to pay for streams on a net basis. I realize there are many folks who will say, “The money’s not the point,” and of course they’re right… so long as they’re not making any effort to distribute – or “commercialize” – their music, which is totally fine, of course. But once you’ve decided you’re going to release and distribute your music you should have some expectation of at least breaking even on the venture, or I’m not really sure what the point is of the activity.

    1. Social proof is one benefit, as you pointed out. But beyond that, what’s the point if the streams don’t pay for the promotion?

      The idea is to build a fanbase that will stream more of your music both now and in the future. Some of them may buy merch or downloads, or in my case, become a patron.

      It’s a lot easier to gauge with something like YouTube ads, where you can see how many subscribers and views you gained as a direct result of your ads.

      My primary goal is to share my experience with you guys. If I spend a lot of money and get little to no result, but prevent others from doing the same, it’s a net gain.

    2. Oh, I think it makes sense for you, specifically (assuming you don’t spend too much, of course). But you have ancillary things going on – mastering, producing, this website, etc. So, there’s a bleed-over effect that might pay for a small net negative cashflow to a particular strategy. But most folks don’t have this… they’re trying to get paid for their music and I suspect that, effectively, buying streams doesn’t do a lot of good in the vast majority of cases. But, again, if there’s a “social proof” element that’s necessary in order to help secure some other commercial benefit (say, a sync deal, publishing deal, etc) then I can see the benefit, although I suspect the benefit is pretty limited. But, unfortunately, 98% of folks won’t attain these commercial benefits regardless of stream stats.

    3. You’re absolutely right. But like I said in my reply to Paula, it’s a business. Most businesses fail. You have to invest in the business for it to have any hope of succeeding, and you may not see returns on that investment in a year, five years, or ever.

      Social proof is necessary just to get people to listen on Spotify or YouTube. When most people pull up a Spotify profile that has 17 monthly listeners, they aren’t going to bother pressing play. It may not be fair, but it’s true. Artists with tens of thousands of monthly listeners are usually better than bands with less than a hundred.

    4. These are interesting philosophical issues. Personally, I don’t view artistic endeavors as “businesses” unless and until they make some reasonable amount of money on a net basis; until then they’re hobbies. The rate of failure for small businesses up to five years of operation is a bit over 90%. But most small businesses are based on a product/service that has some objective measure of value to the consumer; music is purely subjective, thus making it almost impossible to “plan” for success. Which is why the rate of failure – or “non-profitability” – for new bands/recording artists/etc is 99%+, or considerably higher than even (also risky) small businesses.

      Regarding the social proof, I generally agree. People are risk-averse with respect to their time and seeing some kind of social proof (in whatever form it comes) likely makes it easier for them to free up a few minutes for a song. But, since we know that so many artists are using the various strategies that you so adeptly outline here on this site (thank you, sir!)… the numbers don’t send an accurate signal. Essentially anyone can acquire streams and followers through heavy use of these strategies and other products. But, I suppose as long as most of the listeners aren’t aware of such strategies/products, then the social proof they provide has at least some (minimal) value.

      I’d say bands with at least one song with 500,000 streams and/or 50,000 followers almost certainly have “real” numbers (kind of an arbitrary cut-off, I know). It seems that everything below those thresholds can be, in effect, purchased for a modest amount of money. (Not that they generally are, to be clear.) One-third of the artists I follow on Spotify have less than 5,000 monthly listeners, which is kind of pitiful in the whole scheme of things. Clearly, there’s no accounting for taste, which is just the nature of the biz (or “hobby”!).

    5. Sounds like you don’t consider your music a business OR a hobby. So… what is it? 😉

      Your objective vs subjective distinction doesn’t resonate with me. The taste of the food at a restaurant is subjective, so how is that different than music?

      We’re in the business of selling CDs, downloads, t-shirts, entertainment services, etc. All have market value.

      I agree that the hobby/business line gets blurry when engaging in an activity many do for fun. I probably spend just as much time running as I do making music, but I’m not going to demand a tax deduction on my shoes.

      500K streams is a high bar! Even then, I don’t think it’s a safe assumption. If we’re just talking Spotify, I think looking at the monthly listeners to followers ratio is a good indicator.

    6. 100% hobby. No confusion at all (on my part, at least). Self-funding would be about as far out as I could imagine in terms of financial success.

      The subjectivity of a business product/service obviously falls along a spectrum. On the far left side of the curve would be paper clips, for example. Not much subjectivity there – they either work or they don’t. On the far right would be businesses like restaurants, for example, for which the desirability of the product is somewhat subjective. There’s some manner of “art” involved. That’s probably why restaurants and other businesses of that ilk fail at a much higher rate than, say, drugstores. Music projects would exist beyond the right side of the spectrum because these ventures fail at multiples of the (high) rate of even restaurants.

    7. That subjectivity could be an asset though, if it allows you to stand out from the crowd. Without it, how do you get someone to choose your paper clips over your competitors?

      I do understand what you’re saying though! Just being difficult. 😉

      As for hobby vs business, that’s easy — is there a profit motive? If so, business. If not, hobby. It may be an oversimplification, but I assume that if you’re here on a promotion site, you have a profit motive.

    8. Re: Paper clips… as you know, demand for lots of goods is simply determined by price, as opposed to differentiation, and that price is a function of low production costs via economies of scale, etc.

      You hit on where we differ on business vs. hobby. A profit “motive” is an insufficient qualifier for me personally; it has to actually make a profit to qualify as a business. And, yes, there are plenty of businesses that don’t generate a profit. These are “non-profit organizations,” although in many cases… unintentionally so! The landscape is littered with unintentional eleemosynary institutions. Uber, for example, is a non-profit organization that hopes to one day be a business (which is not a unique insight).

      So, almost 100% of music projects start out as non-profit enterprises. Some reasonable percentage hope to one day function as a (profit-making) business. Unfortunately, 99%+ of them never make it to that stage. Unlike the manufacturing of widgets, it’s hard to plan around a product for which the demand is almost entirely subjective.

      Personally, I don’t have a profit motive although I would like the music to get out into the world to be heard, even if it’s only to a very modest degree. And within that context I have a break-even motive, which does, by definition, require (some modest) revenue. That’s why I’m here on a promotion site. A profit is a bridge way too far for me.

      Just my 2 cents of course. Everyone’s got their own path.

    9. Related, I was curious and found this:

      “According to the IRS, an activity is deemed a business if it makes a profit during at least 3 of the last 5 tax years, including the current year.”

      I’m in agreement with the IRS on this one.

    10. Not sure where you got that, certainly not the IRS site, seeing as it’s not true. The “3 of 5” test is a guideline to demonstrate a profit motive, not a rule to distinguish business from hobby.

      THIS SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS TAX ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR LAWYER. 🙂

      I could push back on some of your other claims, but instead I’ll just say that I believe it makes the most sense to treat your music career LIKE a business, and realize that it will likely take some sort of investment to succeed.

      I’m totally with you on the “break-even motive”!

    11. You’re right, technically, it’s a guideline… but one that virtually every tax accountant in the country (well, according to my accountant, anyway) – including the various software programs – adheres to, because that’s what they’ve learned is one of the primary characteristics the IRS looks at when determining whether an entity is a business or a hobby. One can dismiss that guideline at their own peril, I suppose (I’m sure many do!).

      From TurboTax: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/small-business-taxes/when-the-irs-classifies-your-business-as-a-hobby/L5NClTTtK

      I suspect a team of lawyers reviewed that TurboTax verbiage.

  4. I agree with David in theory but have come to accept the hard truth that you simply cannot get seen or heard unless you spend the money ‘fake it to make it’ – at least at the start. This is because it doesn’t matter how good you are; we are just drops in the ocean… grains of sand in a massive and over-saturated industry where everyone is using these tactics of paying out more than they are making for promotion, streams, likes etc – even well-known artists. And so, unfortunately, it is a choice of either not succumb and keep your money (but have less chance of inching up the visibility charts) or do as most artists and pay out with a healthy expectation that you may never make a living as an artist BUT that you will get the satisfaction of knowing that people out there have heard and enjoyed your craft. This is just the way the industry is nowadays, whether we like it or not! I don’t like it and I didn’t want to do it, but the more I learn about the industry (and thank you Brian for everything you have opened my eyes to through your reviews and articles), the more I realise that I have to cut my losses for the sake of being heard.

    1. Right, you have to spend money not just to make money, but to get heard in the first place. It’s the same with any business. Some of my production and mastering clients make amazing music that nobody hears, which makes me more steadfast in my commitment to actively promote my music.

    2. Yeah, I think that’s generally accurate. Although I would probably not enter the music business with a “healthy expectation” of not making a living at it – I would assume there’s virtually no chance (for all intents and purposes). I suspect that 99%+ of folks don’t even cover their costs, much less come even close to making a living at it, much less come close to making a decent living at it over any reasonable period of time. I don’t think you – or most (or me) – are “cutting” their losses for the sake of being heard, but rather “managing” their losses in pursuit of that goal. But that’s semantics – I know what you mean. Personally, if I can eventually cover my costs I’ll be pretty content. But absent having a pretty decent live following (I just have a project – we’ll never tour) or getting sync revenue (conceivable, but still low odds)… the odds of streaming or merchandise sales covering the related costs are pretty close to nil for practically everyone. For me, making music is just a hobby and the marketing/etc is kind of an interesting experiment, all of which I’d like to break even on at some point, if possible (but if not, no biggee). Unfortunately, most of these marketing businesses that cater to musicians are taking advantage of the fact that the musicians are confusing a “future career” with what is actually a “hobby;” they are the beneficiaries of the adage, “hope springs eternal.” Which is perfectly fine; such is life.

  5. Actually, in my case it’s the exact opposite. Thinking of it as a hobby puts a cap on how much I’m willing to spend (re:lose) on it. If I thought of it as a business I’d probably be willing to spend more because in my mental account I’d try to justify the expenses/losses by re-classifying them as “investments”. Behavioral finance theorists have a field day with these sort of “framing” issues.

  6. I know I’m late to the party, just found this site looking for EDM promotion but you’re doing great work and are helping me out to see which companies work and which one’s to stay away from. Thank you!

  7. Hi Brian. I’ve got a pop track called “Sayonara” releasing end of January. I connected with Midnight Blaster as per your recommendation and lined up a promotion with details to be determined closer to the release date. I mentioned your article to them. I hope that helps you a bit in your future dealings. Would you recommend going all in with my promotion budget or breaking it up? Midnight Blaster has been super easy to deal with so far. I can let you know my results if you’re interested.

    James (itsnotu.me)

    1. Thanks for mentioning me! We don’t have any sort of affiliate arrangement but the goodwill is always appreciated.

      By all in, do you mean spending 100% of your promotion budget on Midnite Blaster? I suppose it depends on your goals. If you’re entirely focused on Spotify, and especially if you’re trying to target potential genuine fans instead of just racking up streams, then I’d say yes. I wouldn’t want to work with multiple companies who might dilute my targeting and confuse the recommendation engine.

  8. Hello! I came across your blog a while ago and absolutely loved it. Seems very useful to all the artists. I have a little request for you. I really wanted a review about ‘www.plvylists.com’ as it looks very promising. I am looking for a good service for my Spotify promotions. But I don’t have that huge of a budget. I hope you’ll write the review soon! Thank you!
    Regards,
    Nishchay

    1. I’ve heard good things about them too! I just emailed to propose that I review the service. If they’re okay with it, I’ll give it a try with my new single coming out in four days.

    1. My music is still in the biggest playlist that Vicky got me on, so that’s awesome. No other news to report, other than the rising number of bot-driven playlist services. Buyer beware!

      Oh, you mean on Plvylists? I tried their cheapest campaign and Vicky just emailed me today to let me know I was getting bot streams, and knew it was from Plvylists. So I won’t be writing an article, because they’d probably just threaten legal action and force me to take it down for violating some clause of their terms of service.

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Brian Hazard is a recording artist with over twenty years of experience promoting eleven Color Theory albums, and head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion.

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