CD Baby's Chris Robley shares a seldom used strategy to promote music on Spotify and other streaming services: the recording and sharing of commentary tracks in a 'behind the scenes' playlist.
Guest post by Chris Robley of CD Baby's DIY Musician
Give your fans on Spotify a glimpse behind the curtain with “bonus content” playlists.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of my album The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love. I thought it’d be fun to mark the occasion by creating a behind-the-scenes playlist on Spotify that intersperses album tracks with audio commentary tracks of me talking about the origins of the songs, the recording process, and more. Kinda like the director’s commentary on a DVD.
So I got out the microphone, reminisced and rambled, and two days later this playlist was live on Spotify:
Creating behind-the-scenes audio commentary tracks
So, how’d I do it?
- Choose the album, single, or songs you want to talk about — What music are you trying to provide extra context for, and why? Make some mental notes about what you want to say about those songs.
- Press RECORD — I didn’t really have time to get fussy with audio since I was traveling, so I just threw up a USB mic and recorded into Garageband.
- Talk! Tell! Show! — Alright, tell the world about your music, why you made, and how.
- Mix it — If you’re going to have music playing behind your audio commentary, add that in and adjust the levels and so forth. Also, I’d recommend recording the commentary for each song as a separate track, as opposed to just talking for 20 minutes and then having to do a bunch of cutting later.
- Distribute the audio commentary tracks — Time to get the tracks on Spotify (through CD Baby, of course!) See below for further details.
- Choose an artist name that is NOT your normal artist name — If I used “Chris Robley” as the artist name for these commentary tracks, then this “album” of behind-the-scenes audio would show up in my artist discography on Spotify. I didn’t want that to happen, since the audio on its own would be a little out of context. They’re meant to be interspersed with album tracks within a playlist. So, I chose a different artist name: “Christopher Says Some Things.”
- Google to make sure that artist name isn’t already taken — Be a good citizen. You don’t want to come up with some alias for this project only to find that your audio commentary tracks are now showing up in some other artist’s discography on Spotify.
- Name the tracks — I made this simple by just adding “Commentary on …” before the title of the song which the corresponding commentary track addresses.
- Set your distribution preferences — Choose the digital platforms where you’d like these audio commentary tracks to be available. For me, I only wanted them on Spotify since I know how to easily create and feature playlists on that platform. Within the CD Baby dashboard you can choose the distribution level that includes streaming, and then customize your distribution preferences by unchecking all the other digital platforms besides Spotify.
- Create album art — Again, I went the simple route by repurposing the album cover for The Drunken Dance and then just adding text that makes it clear that this is audio commentary, and not the actual album. Now it’s time to upload the art and audio.
- Put together the playlist! — Once your audio commentary tracks have been delivered and posted on Spotify, you can create the playlist, again, by interspersing audio commentary tracks with album tracks.
- Feature the behind-the-scenes playlist — When you’re done creating the playlist, log into Spotify for Artists to feature it as an “Artist Playlist.” Then tell your fans (on social, via email, etc.), of course.
That’s it. A little bit of work, but it’s something that your most diehard listeners will love. Plus, it gives you something to periodically feature via the “Artist’s Pick” tool in Spotify.
One other optional tip, if you end up getting a bunch of followers for your behind-the-scenes playlist, you can always switch out the audio in that playlist down the line to contain commentary on a different album altogether. Remember, playlists are living and changing — so having one dynamic commentary playlist with a growing following might be the way to go, as opposed to asking fans to follow a bunch of separate, static playlists.
If you end up making a behind-the-scenes playlist, share it with me in the comments below. I’d love to hear it. And if you have a minute, please check out and follow my playlist for The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love!
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