Following detailed from industry experts can dramatically increase your chances for success!
How to Tailor Singles for Streaming
- Fades created during your album’s Mastering phase don’t necessarily transfer when you extract individual tracks for submission to streaming services. Listen to each track before submitting. If any fades have been lost (music comes in abruptly and cuts off abruptly at the end), recreate them using software of your choice (e.g. Audacity).
- Long gaps of silence on either end of your track are a real bummer for playlists (creating the same effect as dead air on radio), and they can be very problematic for a curator trying to thoughtfully arrange the tracks, since two back-to-back gaps might create a silence so long that impatient listeners will click away from the playlist.
- Crowd clapping and spoken introductions create a cool “live” feeling experience, but if you retain these elements for streaming, you are limiting your placement possibilities, since audience noise can stick out like a sore thumb on studio music playlists.
- Roughly 4-minutes in length is ideal for streaming. Sure, some instrumental jams inspire so much joy that you wish they could last forever, but excessive length hogs attention from other tracks in a variety playlist, and if your 10-minute jam fails to evolve, some listeners might lose interest and click away from the playlist. A good rule of thumb is to show off your core melodic arrangement once, repeat it with some interesting variations, use a bridge for permission to squeeze in yet one more round, and then quit while you’re ahead! If your music is so great that your audience is going to want more, hopefully they will click repeat (which means you get paid twice, and Spotify takes notice)! Better to leave your listeners feeling hungry than overfull.
- None of the previous advice means you shouldn’t publish 10-minute “live” instrumental jams on Spotify. It just means that if you want to get added to playlists, you should also create a 4-minute, hand-clapping-free “radio mix” version. Playlist followers who enjoy your radio mix can then click to your profile and discover the 10-minute version contained in your album.
- Audio level is extremely important. Some people say you should “add 1 dB” for transitioning a track from CD to streaming. Don’t blindly follow this kind of advice. Consider your genre. If you want to be on playlists, the most important thing is to make sure the audio level of your track matches other music on the playlist. If your track is too quiet, it will sound anticlimactic by comparison, no matter how much percussive energy you poured it. If it’s too loud, your “high energy” track will make whatever follows it sound anticlimactic, so few playlist curators will want to place it anywhere besides at the end.
- Slow volume builds don’t work well for most playlists. Usually a quiet intro just makes us think, “Darn, did the playlist end? Have I lost WIFI?” …until we hear music slowly creeping in and realize, “Oh, this is one of those slow build tracks.” Drama is wonderful, but the only place where slow volume builds work well for streaming is generally relaxation type playlists (where open spaces are actually desirable, and long fades could be exactly what the curator wants, so always consider your target audience)!
- Streamers are fickle. By the end of 30-seconds, most have already finished deciding if your track will suck or be worth enjoying. Therefore, if you find yourself writing to a playlist curator “Skip ahead to 2:28 where my track really takes off…” this is a sure sign that you need to head back into the editing suite and spruce up your track’s intro. Technically speaking, a well-produced track should need no explanation beyond, “Here’s my new masterpiece. Hoping you’ll enjoy it!”
- Beware of gratuitous f-bombs, racial slurs, political agendas, and anything else that might annoy curators and their followers. Cussing might contribute to the coolness of your image, but it will also get you banned from a lot of playlists with organic followers, and thereby force you into the dicey underworld of stream teams, where you might not want your music stuck for all eternity.
- Weird intros are risky. If they don’t match the body of your song, they could turn away listeners who would otherwise have enjoyed the actual song. Also, they eat up part of your 30-sec-or-less window to either hook or lose new listeners. So if you are going to get “artsy,” do it thoughtfully, or else keep the weirdness out of your “radio mix.”
- Recognize the limitations of producing original “old school” music. New Nostalgia is an oxymoron, whereas old school music tends to be incompatible with modern playlists. Therefore, even the best retro tracks may face rejection from influencers who feature “fresh” music. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t record old school music; it just means that rejections don’t always reflect the quality of your music, and you should carefully seek out audiences who crave what you’re producing.
- If you record music in a home studio, first make a test-recording and listen carefully for the noise of creaking stools, piano mechanics, breathing into microphones, etc. and adjust your mic accordingly, before you record anything for keeps.
- Sing well, but don’t fall in love with your own voice. Many self-producers mix their own vocals too loud, or overextend their vocal phrasing, just to enjoy the beauty of singing. When in doubt, ask a friend you can trust for their honest opinion, and take it seriously. There is a reason why some excellent pop singers carefully choose which words to hold, and cut a lot of words so short that they could almost be having a regular conversation.
- Consider getting your home-recorded tracks professionally mixed and mastered. Some garage products sound very clean, but they still retain a “homemade” character that might stand out like a sore thumb on playlists featuring well-polished music. Little touches like proper panning and tasteful reverb can quickly transform a near-miss into success!
This is not our area of expertise, but we can at least offer a few helpful suggestions…
- It seems harsh to imply that any thumbnail graphic could be as important as the quality of your music, but let’s just say that it definitely makes a huge difference regarding how many people will click to your video.
- Whatever you choose for a thumbnail graphic must match the character of whatever people will see upon arrival. Ditto for online ads. People do not like clicking on one image and then immediately being confronted by something unexpected.
- Take Facebook seriously when they tell you not to display any Text in your thumbnail. If you don’t please Facebook, your attempts sharing the video with paid advertising will reach a smaller, sub-optimal audience. Any Text that you want to display can easily be included above and below your ads, or in an attached blog or comments. If you don’t have a good photo, or any budget to create one, try Pexels, and make sure to add whichever photo becomes your thumbnail to the beginning of your video.
- Watch lots of videos on many different platforms (including TikTok), to expand your knowledge about what an effective video can be. One great song can turn into many different kinds of videos, each appealing to different audiences and serving different purposes.
- Omarimc delivers tons of excellent, free advice about creating profitable music videos, so if YouTube is your focus, we recommend subscribing to his blog.