Spotify PR Spotlight: Virtuoso Music
It’s always a good sign when a Spotify PR company rejects your song. It means they’re selective, a prerequisite to establishing fruitful relationships with influential curators.
Virtuoso Music rejected my first submission, so I sent them three more. To my relief, they approved one of them:
We really love “In Motion” and we think that has a really good placement potential based on our curator’s list. Amazing work on the unique production and on the extremely catchy vocals.
A pricing table followed shortly thereafter:
Note that they only guarantee the number of playlist placements and the reach of those playlists, not the number of streams. Another good sign!
The prices are in Euro, so a standard campaign is just shy of $800 US.
You’ll recall that I thought my $500 Deezer campaign was financially reckless, so I asked if I might get a discount in return for writing a review of the service.
Nope! And no discount code for you guys either. 😭
But hey, I’d be making some of that money back in royalties, right? So of course I pulled the trigger, or we wouldn’t be here.
My Virtuoso Music Spotify playlist pitching results
Four days after paying, my campaign started off with a bang! Four weeks later, it ended with a whimper.
What I mean is, my song was added to all the playlists on day one, and removed from all of them on day 29. With a few minor exceptions, the campaign was perfectly choreographed.
Here’s a list of past playlists from Chartmetric, the day after the campaign ended. All but one of the placements were through Virtuoso.
Note the number of listeners for each playlist, and the reasonable follower growth. Looks legit so far.
That’s a lot of streams! For me, anyway.
The country breakdown looks not only legit, but desirable. Historically my top fan locations are US, UK, Sweden, Germany, and Canada.
The city breakdown looks solid too. Big, recognizable cities in the top countries listed above.
Here’s the report provided by Virtuoso (click to enlarge):
Did they deliver what they promised? Hell yeah!
Would I do it again? Yes, I would. In fact, I did, with this song:
And again, my song was insta-added to 15 playlists, including many of the same ones, and dropped like a bad habit the day after the campaign ended.
Here’s the second report from Virtuoso (click to enlarge):
As you can see, the results were very much in line with my first campaign.
To summarize, both campaigns yielded approximately 90K plays in four weeks for $800.
That’s a lot better than I expected going in!
My second campaign ended in July, but I waited until I received royalties for the first one before writing this article. I estimate I received $400 as a result of that campaign.
Is Virtuoso Music Spotify promotion right for you?
If you’ve got $800 burning a hole in your pocket, and you just want some big numbers on your Spotify profile, definitely.
For the rest of us, the answer isn’t so clear cut.
The big problem is save rates.
For both tracks it was around 2%. I actually released an inferior version of “In Motion” as a single prior to the campaign, and it had a 7.5% save rate with 11.7K plays, most of those from small playlists and listener libraries.
If a track’s save rate is high enough, and the audience clearly defined, it can make it onto algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly. A recent single of mine has 16.4K Discover Weekly plays and counting, which are precision targeted to reach the people who are most receptive to my music.
So what are we teaching Spotify when our track has a high play count and a low save rate?
That the track sucks.
In this case, I can think of two reasons why the save rate is so low:
- The workout playlists are, by definition, intended for passive listening
- The soundtrack playlists, with a couple of exceptions, aren’t devoted to my genre
Looking at the first campaign, maybe five of the playlists are logical choices. Only Suicide Sheep and Eighties Ultimate Collection are center of the bullseye, setting aside the fact that my song isn’t actually from the 80s.
Bottom line, these aren’t the sorts of playlists fans of my genre listen to for discovery.
Midway through the first campaign, November47 messaged me on Facebook to ask if I was testing Virtuoso, after noticing we were on a lot of the same playlists, so I looked his track up on Chartmetric.
Here it is:
As of today, both he and the other artist on the track are hovering around 230 monthly listeners, so clearly the campaign didn’t have a lasting effect.
He describes his experience thusly:
Since our campaign ended, they took us out of all but a handful of playlists (4 or 5 I think). We’ve gotten almost zero plays outside of that – maybe 20+ plays per month that are organic. It didn’t do us any good AT ALL. Well I guess 69,000 plays still looks better than “< 1000” but that would only matter if anyone were aware of it – which was the reason we used them in the first place.
I, on the other hand, was unceremoniously dropped from all of the playlists both times.
You may have noticed that most of my plays came from the same three curators: Laura Taylor, ghost, and vic_s. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it prompted me to ask Virtuoso if they owned the playlists. They confirmed that they “don’t have direct access to these playlists.”
One of my tracks was on Laura Taylor’s Drive Soundtrack for awhile last year, with no promotion, so I know at least back then she was actively curating.
Clearly there’s more detective work to be done, if one were so inclined.
Okay, so I can’t expect algorithmic plays, but does it really matter if I’m making new fans?
That’s the thing — I didn’t actually make any new fans that I can tell.
I added 73 new followers over the course of the 28-day campaign. Right now I don’t have any sort of promotional campaign going, and I gained 65 followers over the past 28 days.
Each of my two tracks got approximately 1.8K saves, but in both cases the streams came to a halt once the campaign ended.
I have little reason to believe the trajectory of my career was altered in any meaningful way.
So, should you try Virtuoso? I suppose it depends what your goals are.
I can’t really complain. If anything, they overdelivered.
The low save count may just be the nature of the beast with huge non-genre focused playlists. Maybe I should’ve chosen an older song whose algorithmic opportunities had long passed.
Would you have more luck pitching to curators directly through Playlist Push and/or SubmitHub?
Possibly, but there are no guarantees beyond the fact that your track probably won’t be dropped on the 29th day. 😜
If you’d like to try Virtuoso for yourself, just click on the “submit your music” link at the top of this page, and let them know I sent you!
Be on the lookout for another Spotify PR Spotlight post in the near future. The adventure continues!
Have you tried Virtuoso for Spotify promotion, or any other Spotify PR service? Share your results in the comments!
Good article, Brian. My only question is.. doesn’t the fact that the tracks got dropped from all these playlist on the day the campaign ended indicate something really fishy is happening? I mean, I get that Virtuoso only pitches your music during that window, but why would the playlists all drop it on the day your campaign ended unless they were working together? Eventually, they’d rotate out music, but it would happen more organically if they weren’t connected somehow.
Oh, they’re definitely connected! Virtuoso coordinates the 28-day campaign window with the curators, so the adds and drops happen like clockwork.
Great in-depth article Brian! Like you mentioned, long term algorithmic attention, saves, and fan building, that campaign my not be the best option. But if getting more legit plays and boosting your vanity numbers and perceived industry value is the goal, then it might be fine. Certainly enough to give more thought to. At least from the metrics you showed, it’s actually real people listening so the whole service itself doesn’t seem to be a scam like many Spotify placement services out there.
Thanks Justin! Yeah, at least it’s not going to get you kicked off Spotify, which seems like a potential risk with a lot of other services.
Hey! Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been following you for a while now and I love what you’re doing.
Thank you! I appreciate the comment.
Awesome article, will read other. Thanks for sharing your experience.
My pleasure Andrew!
Great article. thanks Brian!
Then you lost a lot of money because 90k plays are $393,30 before distributors and more people takes their part of the cake, i see this extremly unfair, but thanks for your post, now i know this is a bad service.
The payout depends on a variety of factors, like whether the listener is on a free or paid tier. Regardless, I don’t think it’s fair to judge the quality of the service based on short-term ROI. Of course if there were a service where I could make more in royalties than the cost of promotion, I’d throw everything I could at it!
wel 2 red flags here…
It states 100% gauranteed money back….well that didn”t happen.
U lost money.And even worse you took money from the allready small piece of the pie what all the legit streams artist make from streaming on spotify,
So this service takes 100% off youre money.
And you get paid by Spotify for fake streams.
Thats a great deal….for them obviously
2nd ref flag…..guaranteed playlist placement…..
it;s a bot farm….nothing new….these guys are thieves/fakes.
And you take bot(illegal) streams and revenue from fellow artist that make legit streams , so youre hearting the payout system also.
Thats why the music industry is cracking down on playlist payola beacuse they lose more then 100 million$$$ a year on fake streams.
Part of the problem is also on the side of us music artists that dont inform themself enough about promotion and what is legal and what not.
I cant confirm this info is solid but when spotify algorithm detects abnormal stream behaiviour from artist(s) account they get blacklisted so u have zero change to get any traction because off the stream boost etc.
I can only say be very cautious because changes are made and u wont see it coming but in the end you the artist is hold responsible so dont be suprised as youre whole artist profile will get removed or bannned.
Im not against promotion but just use youre commen sense when they start asking youre money instead of taking a cut of youre profit made with music , most of the time its bullshit!
The guarantee is that they’ll place your song on the number of playlists they promise, which they did. There’s nothing shady about promising to get you on a certain number of playlists. That’s why they screen the songs first.
What makes you think it’s a bot farm? The plays are spread out geographically, the save ratio is reasonable, and as I mentioned in the article, I had been placed on one of the playlists organically last year. Looks legit to me, but I’m open to evidence to the contrary!
do you have any braincells?
Oh they accepted youre song,,,,,,really?Yeah for 700$ or 1200$ they happily accepeted youre song and money..
Please grow up….were do you even find the money to waste on these stupid services.
If a seriious musician would follow youre a dvice on this site they would be broke and living in the streets.
So you think that because streams are spread geographically that those are real plays?
And some saves mean these plays are from humans?
The guys behind these services hire or have good hackers who do this obvious to make money.
I think you underestimate the lengt and depth the payola goes on spotify.
I have a background in IT/Networks …big companies worldwide for more then 20 years .
Spotify has a big problem with bots and playlist networks and they turned a blind eye for a few years but now that it’s costing them money they have to do something.
Its been going on a long time and know its getting out of hand.
FAking numbers is nothing new and many idiots willing to pay….just to make there numbers look better but in the long term it’s a losing game.
As a adult and musician i dont understand you at all .These guys are laughing at youre stupidy and taking youre money.
I’t so obvious that i can only think that youre either dont know shit or working with these people.
Spotify has an otion for new releases so you can pitch youre music to their curators and it’s 100% free.
Why dony you us that or make an article on it.
Instead of these trash services ….
You are a guest here in my house. If you follow up with ad hominem attacks, your comments will be deleted. I don’t even know who you are, and your background in “big companies worldwide for more then [sic] 20 years” doesn’t prove you know what you’re talking about. Your grammatical and spelling deficiencies don’t do you any favors in the credibility department either.
If you have evidence, or can make logically sound inferences from the data I presented, that the plays are fake, I’m all ears. Yes, Spotify has a problem with bots. It doesn’t follow that these plays came from bots. Other people that I’ve spoken to that work in Spotify PR don’t think they did.
Hi Brian. While I don’t agree with Blade, I feel where he is coming from. Paying for blocks of streams feels like radio payola. The idea that a “real” playlist would drop your track on a schedule seems to indicate that your track has met a bar for quality, but that there is no interest in the musician or helping you connect with fans. It’s all about financial transaction. I think playlisting might be the best way to reach a large audience, but it’s broken and corrupt and that’s not good for artists or music listeners. Hey, and on a personal note, thanks for documenting all of your experiments. It’s saved me lots of time and money.
Glad to hear it!
From what I understand, the majority of large user-run playlists take paid placements. PR companies will typically buy out and/or build up their own stable of playlists using Facebook and Instagram ads.
It may not be pretty, but that’s where we’re at. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the curators have no interest in helping you connect with fans, or that they don’t care about the quality of their playlists. Your interests are, for the most part, aligned.
An alternative is to use the same techniques to build up your own playlists, perhaps getting other artists in your scene to share in the costs.
Great article! These days, I feel like it’s getting SO much harder to source the legitimate promo services for streaming platforms. Recently, I have been doing small campaigns with a company called ‘Dotted Oranges’ and they look legit for today’s standards. I even contacted a client who also use them and said everything seemed organic but I never fully trust things like this. So far everything seems great, nothing ever seemed too suspicious but maybe I’m naive, however, I’m a new artist and wanted to find other companies (maybe for better offers and progression) so, it took hours to find another legit promo company because I’d go on forums and find articles about the companies and the responses were ‘scammers’ ‘don’t do it’ etc. Anyways, fast forward, I message ‘View Maniac’ which is meant to be on the list of legit companies and they said they had to run an audit through my spotify, so I was like ‘no problem’ and they said it seems like bots were used on my spotify? However, I’ve also found that on some reviews that they aren’t as reliable as they seem(View Maniac). So, I was wondering if you have heard of these companies and basically wanting some advice on spotify promo companies? Thanks again! ☺️
Dotted Oranges has been on my radar! They look promising to me. If you end up running a campaign with them, please let us know how it goes!
I’d never heard of View Maniac, but reading through their site, I’m skeptical. They make it sound like they drive all the plays through blog placements, and I’ve never seen blogs generate those kinds of numbers. Plus you can buy followers. How’s that supposed to work “organically”?
The other one on my radar is Omari MC. He’s got some great content on Instagram and focuses more on how Spotify promotion will impact your overall career growth, rather than just pumping up your stats.
So, we tried Virtuoso. Ponied up the ~$800. The summary is I’d give them a review of 1 star out of 5. Yeah, their playlists generated 60-65K streams, or something like that, but… (1) as others have mentioned, we disappeared from all but maybe 8 of their playlists at the end of the 30 days (pretty much expected); (2) most of our plays were also on Laura Taylor and ghost (like others) – which is fishy (also, it appears they created a playlist that did nothing but stream our song over the 30 days – ha!); (3) we did pick up some followers, but who knows of what quality; and (4) the BIG negative… these playlists completely screwed up our “Fans Also Like” artists. We had hip hop, AOR, DJs, etc… just bizarre artists that had zero in common with our music (let’s call it post-punk/neo-psychedelic for simplicity’s sake). I think what was happening is Virtuoso makes no distinction regarding genres when it places the songs on the playlists, so if your song is surrounded on each side by out-of-your-genre artists, they’re going to end up in your “Fans Also Like” list because that’s what Spotify’s algorithm does – it seeks out artists that are being streamed by the same listeners (as is likely to happen for songs close to yours on a playlist). So, that was a major negative.
The good news is that our “Fans Also Like” issue corrected itself a month after the Virtuoso experiment ended. So, now the Fans Also Like artists look appropriate (for the most part). The other decent thing is we are getting more organic streams on average than we were getting prior to the Virtuoso experiment. We’re starting to get included on more “normal” and appropriate playlists (albeit small)… but we’re FAR from tripping the Spotify algorithm for their big playlists. Also, we got contacted to be on a quasi-legitimate (at least the genre is correct – it’s a tiny label) compilation release (vinyl/CD/etc).
So, it wasn’t a total disaster but largely a waste of money net of the streaming royalties generated. There are probably some artists that can benefit from Virtuoso – maybe if you’re REALLY mainstream or hip hop, or something like that – but for us it was pretty much a waste. And the playlist stuff… hmmm… it just doesn’t look 100% legitimate. Again, there’s something fishy going on there.
I suspect this is what pretty much every artist would like: A company that you could send a list of, say, 30-50 artist names with the instructions, “I want to be on every playlist (possible) that has a song from one of these artists, AND I do NOT want to be on ANY playlist that doesn’t have a song by at least one of these artists.” That’s something we would pay for – specific, highly-focused playlist promotion. But, so far as I can tell… that doesn’t exist.
Exactly! There should be a playlist service where we submit our desired “Fans Also Like” and they build a campaign from there. But that would mean hunting down curators and, realistically, offering to pay for placement. My understanding is that many or most Spotify PR companies own the playlists they utilize, building a follower base from Facebook and Instagram ads.
Thanks so much for sharing your results! It seems to me they delivered on their promises and got your music in front of a whole lot of potential new fans. I suspect the vast majority of their customers would choose a large stream count to a broad audience over a smaller stream count to a more focused group.
Offering to pay for placement… indeed, the old “payola” from the the 50s – 00s… You know why the labels engaged in payola? Because it worked! Ha!
We would be happy to pay for, say, 25-50 genre-appropriate Branded and Personal playlist placements IF… (a) the cost wasn’t too exorbitant (duh), and (b) there was a decent chance that a coordinated effort utilizing these playlists would trigger the algorithms for placement in the (considerably) larger Algorithmic playlists.
Would you pay, say, $25 per placement for 50 GOOD Branded and Personal playlist placements that would keep your song on the playlist for at least one month? We might… that might be worth it. Because if it triggers the algorithm and you get on the Algo playlists… that’s gonna pay for itself (and maybe more). But that’s tough to do independently… you gotta know the whos and hows. This is where recording labels and publishing companies still add value for artists – they know how to get this sh1t done.
Hell yeah, I’d pay that!
Playlist services build their playlist followings using Facebook and Instagram ads, and then charge musicians for access. That’s the model as I understand it.
If you wanted, you could coordinate and pool resources with a dozen or so bands in your genre and build your own! It could potentially be a resource for years to come.
I “don’t have direct access to these playlists” means, I don’t have the corresponding password.
Probably something along those lines.
Thanks for this Brian! Have you by any chance heard of ‘Playlist Pump’ or tried them?
I haven’t, but the name seems like a blatant ripoff of Playlist Push.
Sorry for posting on such an old thread, but I got an email from Virtuoso today, so they are still around and contacting musicians. Thanks for this review! Very helpful.
To my mind the negative comments are targeting the wrong problem. Streaming on Spotify encourages passive listening. Any boost you get from playlisting is destined to evaporate if you rely on this alone. It’s too bad that legit promotion ends up costing so much that, for a lot of small acts, there’s no $$ left for any additional promotion. Now IF Spotify paid fairer royaites, that might change the equation (don’t hold your breath).
Yep, I see the site is still up and running, and looks the same as always. Thanks for the update Jim!
I haven’t done any paid playlisting since posting the Spotify PR Spotlight articles. Instead I’ve just been focused on building my own through Instagram Stories ads. A much better investment!
thank you so much for this Article.
I’m actually starting a Virtuoso campaign in a few days as recommended by a contact in the music industry working as an A&R. He said he used it for his emerging artists at the beginning and delivers ok results. Im nervous that they’ll just take my money and put me on fishy playlist and can’t really find reviews except this one. My question is: Since it’s been a while that you wrote this article, do you feel that, Looking back it was still a decent investment ?
Thanks in advance.
I guess financially it wasn’t so bad, since I did recoup a lot of my investment in royalties. Still, I think the money is better spent growing your own playlist as I describe here. I’ve been spending $6 a day on Instagram Stories ads for some time, and I’m up to 12.2K followers. Looking at my Spotify for Artists dashboard, I see 3.6K streams from it in the past 28 days. REAL streams from REAL fans of my genre.