our team

services

SANCTUARY

Aenean tellus urna, vehicula quis quam vel, finibus sollicitudin quam maecenas mollis risus eu purus faucibus efficitur.

The MIC Mountain's Spotify Algorithm "Inner Circle" Method
By:

Before you read, please pre-save the album on Spotify before Thursday 4/29 by clicking here - & now here's why it matters:


Since welcoming the newest international intern class into MIC in December 2020, we've been buried in the development of the next "Covid-World" update of The Mountain (coming very soon to www.theMICmountain.com).

This includes a "Spotify Algorithm Experiment" to find ways to avoid the straight-up payola/time-draining-&-soul-sucking/collusion that playlisting has often become over the past few years - we wanted to know if it even was even possible to play the streaming game straight like it was originally intended.

The Mountain is about pulling back the curtain on what music careers actually look like, and since we're indies (independent musicians) working with other indies around the world, we know that nearly all of us feel the constant pressure to "playlist more!"

However, many indies understandably don't know that payola & collusion runs a lot of the game -- I don't use words like payola & collusion flippantly, I say them so indies know that Spotify numeric success through playlisting is point-blank more difficult to do effectively than a lot of advice-givers act like it is, because a lot of people are being sneaky af about it. Why? Well, because those Spotify statistics are highly influential, we all know this instinctively - and even if Spotify tries to crack down on bots, trust us, that's not the only way to game the system and get ultimately fake views and followers. We've seen some sneaky, sneaky things - we'll share more about this in our social media @theMICMountain. (Return later for more about how we recommend indies work wisely with the psychological influence of streaming service & social media statistics, in Step 5's "First Circle Breakout.")

In our MIC opinion, every indie deserves a lot of credit for even trying to playlist, because it is very time-consuming, often expensive, and risky (because of bots & getting taken down.) However, what if instead of clawing your way through fruitless playlisting outreach, you could also get Spotify's algorithm to work for you - the way that Spotify brags that it can?


So, in MIC Mountain less-is-more style, we aimed to create a simple, efficient, actionable, realistically-budgeted ($0) method for indies to use to strengthen their chances of triggering the Spotify algorithm organically: we've deemed it the "Inner Circle Method", and we used Millaze's A Note on the Author album (ANOTA) as our final test run.

It's not perfect, but it's something we now recommend to our indies because it's a realistic, simple, and free tool to have in your arsenal - and when it works, it works super, super well. If you aren't aware, an indie music career is incredibly up against the powers that be in our industry -- and pilling up authentic methods of outreach is your only chance if you don't have a budget of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (oh we'll get more into this in later blog posts).

Granted, since playlisting is so important, we're not saying to *only* use this Inner Circle Method - no, we still recommend creative ways to playlist outreach too, avoiding the extreme payola & collusion, or figuring out tempered ways to accept parts of them (this is another long experiment the interns and I are conducting, and in the future we'll share more specifics on those specific suggestions). However, today we're here to share with you the most valuable, organic method we believe in so far: cutting straight through to the big ol' Spotify algorithm itself, because from these roots grows many natural branches.

"Inner Circle"?



We came up with this "Inner Circle" idea after a couple years of research, experiments, and feedback from other indie friends' anecdotes -- but the biggest inspiration came from Andrew Chris, the "instant vintage" Mac Miller/Jimi Hendrix/Tame Impala musical hybrid who is also Millaze's producer & a former MIC intern, among a dozen other things(he produced this ANOTA album coming Thursday, actually!).


Andrew Chris used grassroots outreach to ask his close friends/family to pre-save "Bike" before release day - then he asked them to listen to it on release day itself. This caught the algorithm's attention (as Spotify says it should), triggering Spotify to place it on other algorithmic playlists around the world. See it for yourself, that's over 13,000+ true, natural streams to this day, and it continues to grow the way music naturally should on streaming services - no payola, no collusion, just good old true support from his genuine fans, which triggered Spotify to act as it idealistically should: "Ah, this song's got support & it's catching on, we see you, we see you, we see you, we'll send it to other people who would like it!" -- and like it they understandably did, adding it to their own playlists & sharing it with their friends. That ripple effect continues today.

We coined the phrase "Inner Circle" because it showcases the connection of appreciating the outliers in indies' "First Circle Conundrum" - another one of our MIC theories that sheds light on why the people already in your life often can't be your fans - and how that makes sense, and is okay.
Andrew created an "Inner Circle" by reaching out to the family/friends he knew would go out of their way to help him, just that extra little bit: click a link here, listen to a song there. These are simple, little asks that mean the world to indies, and aren't that hard to carry out.

Next step for us was studying the pieces that contributed to the puzzle of Andrew's success, especially timing & calls to action. We used Millaze's "A Note on the Author" album (arriving Thursday 4/29) & singles (Met a Man, Tattoo, Black Coffee & Cherry Pop-Tarts, & Viscera) as our formal guinea pig experiment this year, and here are our final takeaways:

How to use the Inner Circle Method

First step: begin by making that list of people in your life that you know will do a couple simple things for you - and who use Spotify. (Remember, it's okay if they aren't technically fans of your music - that's what MIC's "First Circle Conundrum" gets at: it's really normal that someone who already knows you might have a hard time being a fan of your music - that's just how the human brain psychologically operates with chunking & first impressions. Let them support you in the Inner Circle anyway!)

Next step: generate a pre-save page for your next release. Often your distributor will do this for you - Millaze currently uses Distrokid, so here's that example of her pre-save page. A lot of our indies like Toneden, too - in fact, our Danish intern Frederik manages the EDM artist Birsch, so pre-save their next release "Magic" here to see an example of Toneden's pages!

Before the release: reach out to everyone in your Inner Circle with that pre-save page link - ask them to pre-save your release, & thank them. We tend to think reaching out individually is more genuine because, heck, these people are your friends! Some people do a group-text thing, it's up to you. Spotify really cares about this "pre-save" statistic because it shows more people are excited about it.

Also before the release: prepare a playlist that you'll add your release to, on release day - you'll see why in a moment. Theming it with your brand is a cool idea.

On the day of the release: reach out to everyone in your Inner Circle with the link to that playlist, asking them to listen to the release *on that playlist* (listens from a playlist count more than from the catalogue on your artist profile). Here are the other tips you can tell them matter to the Spotify algorithm, too:

  • Follow the artist (This one is super important!)
  • **The first 12-24 hours of a release are the most important for streams
  • Listen to the first 30 seconds at least - or it won't count as a stream
  • Don’t listen on mute - but very quiet is okay!
  • Don’s use the back/repeat button - it’s better to have the song multiple times in a playlist
  • Follow (heart button) this playlist, or add to your own, and listen to it there (not from catalogue, as we mentioned)

**Indies: when you upload your release to the distributor, select something like "release at 6AM EST, simultaneously" instead of "release at 6AM regardless of the listener's timezone" because the clock starts when the release first hits Spotify, and unless you live in a far east time zone like New Zealand, you'll miss out on these important hours.

After the release: thank them again - and if anyone is eager to help more, ask them to share on social media - especially the "button" feature of IG Stories or including the song on a TikTok video.

What to Expect

At the end of the day, even if this method doesn't "work" to trigger the algorithm in such a glorious manner like Andrew Chris' "Bike" single - it's still worth it, because (1) the algorithm is always watching, so this did matter in the long run, (2) indie music careers are about trial & error because you never know what will work, so it's a numbers game that will add up to a tipping point eventually, and (3) you're practicing how to do this method so you can do it over and over again, more efficiently each time, until it does work.

The Mountain's latest update will arrive soon, so sign up for our email list if you haven't yet - and don't be a stranger, tell us what else you want us to research & shed light on in the music industry! We're all about finding the truths out there that relieve that pressure so many indies feel, so that our music careers improve our qualities of life, not detract from them.

Hope you enjoy A Note on The Author as much as I do - thank you to my own Inner Circle for your help so far!!

- Millaze


The MIC Mountain's Spotify Algorithm "Inner Circle" Method
The MIC Mountain's Spotify Algorithm "Inner Circle" Method

Before you read, please pre-save the album on Spotify before Thursday 4/29 by clicking here - & now here's why it matters:


Since welcoming the newest international intern class into MIC in December 2020, we've been buried in the development of the next "Covid-World" update of The Mountain (coming very soon to www.theMICmountain.com).

This includes a "Spotify Algorithm Experiment" to find ways to avoid the straight-up payola/time-draining-&-soul-sucking/collusion that playlisting has often become over the past few years - we wanted to know if it even was even possible to play the streaming game straight like it was originally intended.

The Mountain is about pulling back the curtain on what music careers actually look like, and since we're indies (independent musicians) working with other indies around the world, we know that nearly all of us feel the constant pressure to "playlist more!"

However, many indies understandably don't know that payola & collusion runs a lot of the game -- I don't use words like payola & collusion flippantly, I say them so indies know that Spotify numeric success through playlisting is point-blank more difficult to do effectively than a lot of advice-givers act like it is, because a lot of people are being sneaky af about it. Why? Well, because those Spotify statistics are highly influential, we all know this instinctively - and even if Spotify tries to crack down on bots, trust us, that's not the only way to game the system and get ultimately fake views and followers. We've seen some sneaky, sneaky things - we'll share more about this in our social media @theMICMountain. (Return later for more about how we recommend indies work wisely with the psychological influence of streaming service & social media statistics, in Step 5's "First Circle Breakout.")

In our MIC opinion, every indie deserves a lot of credit for even trying to playlist, because it is very time-consuming, often expensive, and risky (because of bots & getting taken down.) However, what if instead of clawing your way through fruitless playlisting outreach, you could also get Spotify's algorithm to work for you - the way that Spotify brags that it can?


So, in MIC Mountain less-is-more style, we aimed to create a simple, efficient, actionable, realistically-budgeted ($0) method for indies to use to strengthen their chances of triggering the Spotify algorithm organically: we've deemed it the "Inner Circle Method", and we used Millaze's A Note on the Author album (ANOTA) as our final test run.

It's not perfect, but it's something we now recommend to our indies because it's a realistic, simple, and free tool to have in your arsenal - and when it works, it works super, super well. If you aren't aware, an indie music career is incredibly up against the powers that be in our industry -- and pilling up authentic methods of outreach is your only chance if you don't have a budget of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (oh we'll get more into this in later blog posts).

Granted, since playlisting is so important, we're not saying to *only* use this Inner Circle Method - no, we still recommend creative ways to playlist outreach too, avoiding the extreme payola & collusion, or figuring out tempered ways to accept parts of them (this is another long experiment the interns and I are conducting, and in the future we'll share more specifics on those specific suggestions). However, today we're here to share with you the most valuable, organic method we believe in so far: cutting straight through to the big ol' Spotify algorithm itself, because from these roots grows many natural branches.

"Inner Circle"?



We came up with this "Inner Circle" idea after a couple years of research, experiments, and feedback from other indie friends' anecdotes -- but the biggest inspiration came from Andrew Chris, the "instant vintage" Mac Miller/Jimi Hendrix/Tame Impala musical hybrid who is also Millaze's producer & a former MIC intern, among a dozen other things(he produced this ANOTA album coming Thursday, actually!).


Andrew Chris used grassroots outreach to ask his close friends/family to pre-save "Bike" before release day - then he asked them to listen to it on release day itself. This caught the algorithm's attention (as Spotify says it should), triggering Spotify to place it on other algorithmic playlists around the world. See it for yourself, that's over 13,000+ true, natural streams to this day, and it continues to grow the way music naturally should on streaming services - no payola, no collusion, just good old true support from his genuine fans, which triggered Spotify to act as it idealistically should: "Ah, this song's got support & it's catching on, we see you, we see you, we see you, we'll send it to other people who would like it!" -- and like it they understandably did, adding it to their own playlists & sharing it with their friends. That ripple effect continues today.

We coined the phrase "Inner Circle" because it showcases the connection of appreciating the outliers in indies' "First Circle Conundrum" - another one of our MIC theories that sheds light on why the people already in your life often can't be your fans - and how that makes sense, and is okay.
Andrew created an "Inner Circle" by reaching out to the family/friends he knew would go out of their way to help him, just that extra little bit: click a link here, listen to a song there. These are simple, little asks that mean the world to indies, and aren't that hard to carry out.

Next step for us was studying the pieces that contributed to the puzzle of Andrew's success, especially timing & calls to action. We used Millaze's "A Note on the Author" album (arriving Thursday 4/29) & singles (Met a Man, Tattoo, Black Coffee & Cherry Pop-Tarts, & Viscera) as our formal guinea pig experiment this year, and here are our final takeaways:

How to use the Inner Circle Method

First step: begin by making that list of people in your life that you know will do a couple simple things for you - and who use Spotify. (Remember, it's okay if they aren't technically fans of your music - that's what MIC's "First Circle Conundrum" gets at: it's really normal that someone who already knows you might have a hard time being a fan of your music - that's just how the human brain psychologically operates with chunking & first impressions. Let them support you in the Inner Circle anyway!)

Next step: generate a pre-save page for your next release. Often your distributor will do this for you - Millaze currently uses Distrokid, so here's that example of her pre-save page. A lot of our indies like Toneden, too - in fact, our Danish intern Frederik manages the EDM artist Birsch, so pre-save their next release "Magic" here to see an example of Toneden's pages!

Before the release: reach out to everyone in your Inner Circle with that pre-save page link - ask them to pre-save your release, & thank them. We tend to think reaching out individually is more genuine because, heck, these people are your friends! Some people do a group-text thing, it's up to you. Spotify really cares about this "pre-save" statistic because it shows more people are excited about it.

Also before the release: prepare a playlist that you'll add your release to, on release day - you'll see why in a moment. Theming it with your brand is a cool idea.

On the day of the release: reach out to everyone in your Inner Circle with the link to that playlist, asking them to listen to the release *on that playlist* (listens from a playlist count more than from the catalogue on your artist profile). Here are the other tips you can tell them matter to the Spotify algorithm, too:

  • Follow the artist (This one is super important!)
  • **The first 12-24 hours of a release are the most important for streams
  • Listen to the first 30 seconds at least - or it won't count as a stream
  • Don’t listen on mute - but very quiet is okay!
  • Don’s use the back/repeat button - it’s better to have the song multiple times in a playlist
  • Follow (heart button) this playlist, or add to your own, and listen to it there (not from catalogue, as we mentioned)

**Indies: when you upload your release to the distributor, select something like "release at 6AM EST, simultaneously" instead of "release at 6AM regardless of the listener's timezone" because the clock starts when the release first hits Spotify, and unless you live in a far east time zone like New Zealand, you'll miss out on these important hours.

After the release: thank them again - and if anyone is eager to help more, ask them to share on social media - especially the "button" feature of IG Stories or including the song on a TikTok video.

What to Expect

At the end of the day, even if this method doesn't "work" to trigger the algorithm in such a glorious manner like Andrew Chris' "Bike" single - it's still worth it, because (1) the algorithm is always watching, so this did matter in the long run, (2) indie music careers are about trial & error because you never know what will work, so it's a numbers game that will add up to a tipping point eventually, and (3) you're practicing how to do this method so you can do it over and over again, more efficiently each time, until it does work.

The Mountain's latest update will arrive soon, so sign up for our email list if you haven't yet - and don't be a stranger, tell us what else you want us to research & shed light on in the music industry! We're all about finding the truths out there that relieve that pressure so many indies feel, so that our music careers improve our qualities of life, not detract from them.

Hope you enjoy A Note on The Author as much as I do - thank you to my own Inner Circle for your help so far!!

- Millaze


Find us @theMICmountain on social media because we, too, are humans on our phones.

Join The Mountain Climber Club mailing list to get an industry secret that the Interns just discovered - plus all the behind-the-scenes that's coming in 2021.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form