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Are Spotify Pre-Save Campaigns Worth It? Feature.fm vs. DistroKid vs. Show.co vs. Smarturl

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

I have a song coming out on Wednesday.

It is the first release under my own name, really, since 2015. Why so long? In that time, I released my book (2 editions), Ari’s Take Academy, the New Music Business podcast and launched the retro funk project Brassroots District.

So I’ve been busy, and have been making lots of music, but just haven’t released any under my own name. Buuuuut a breakup from an 11 year relationship got me writing personal songs again. Songs that don’t fit with the vibe of Brassroots District. Songs that I needed to write.

So now I’m releasing the first song of the bunch.

And, naturally, I wanted to test Spotify pre-saves that everyone’s been talking about.

Actually these things have been all the rage for the past few years.

What is a Spotify pre-save link?

Well, you can create a way for fans to save your song to their library or playlist in advance of the release. Why do this? If Spotify notices that your song gets a ton of saves or playlists on day 1, it will trigger their algorithms and potentially pop your song into various algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly, Radio, Your Daily Mix, Release Radar, Radio, etc. And the more saves a song gets, the more likely a Spotify playlist editor will add it to a playlist.

If you have any hope of getting on Spotify editorial playlists, you need to distribute your song at least 4 weeks before release date.

Well, it actually needs to hit Spotify 4 weeks in advance, so you’ll actually need to distribute it 5-6 weeks before release so it has time to go through the distribution process and hit your Spotify for Artists account in time for you to submit it to Spotify playlist editors.

Now for the pre-save part of this whole process.

Depending on the distributor you use, they may offer something built in for you. DistroKid has Hyperfollow (actually built into the platform) and CD Baby has Show.co – but you have to create this through the Show.co website.

Worth noting, that Spotify pre-save from Instagram is virtually impossible.

Well, it’s possible, but it’s not worth it. Spotify and IG have never communicated well with each other. If you click a pre-save link from IG, it requires the user to sign into Spotify (even if you already have the Spotify app open). And if you use Facebook sign-in for Spotify, it requires you to login to Facebook (even if you already have the Facebook app open and are logged in). It’s clunky and I can’t ever get it to work – I can’t remember my FB password or if I do I need the code generator to get in.

If you’ve ever run a pre-save campaign on IG this is why your conversions were so low.

So! Spotify pre-save campaigns really work best for Facebook, Twitter and you email list.

I tested a few Spotify pre-save platforms, but I want to hear what you use and what your experience with them was like so I can update this report!

Please add your reviews in the comments!

DistroKid’s Hyperfollow Spotify pre-save review

—>Test the presave here

Since I distributed this song with DistroKid, I have the Hyperfollow option.

It looks like this:

As you can see, the issue is that the Spotify pre-save is no where to be found on the desktop OR mobile.

What’s “Talk to Me?” Your guess is as good as mine. If a fan clicks it, they must make an account and then where do these messages go? It’s a mystery. I’m assuming into your DK account somewhere. Unfortunately there is no ability to turn this “feature” off. It’s not welcomed. I wish it wasn’t there and is taking up valuable real estate.

The pre-save button is “below the fold” on both desktop and mobile and looks like this

Pros:

  • The ability for pixel tracking (for advanced FB advertising)
  • DistroKid emails the fan on release day and encourages them to listen (great reminder)
  • Automatically also follows the artist as well as pre-save the song
  • The “also share my email address with artist” is automatically checked (the fan’s email  that’s registered with Spotify).
  • Automatically created by DistroKid with no extra steps
  • Free with DK distribution
  • Get emails easily (found in DK backend)
  • Ability to add social links
  • Once the pre-save link is found, it’s quick and easy to use – few extra steps
  • URL is intuitive (includes name of artist and song)
  • Presave flips into live links (adding Apple Music and iTunes) on release day

Cons:

  • Talk to me box on top
  • Pre-save is “below the fold”
  • Heavily branded DistroKid
  • Feels a bit clunky – not very appealing looking
  • No ability to download CSV for emails (to import to mailing list provider)
  • No ability to follow an artist’s playlist
  • No ability to add song to your own playlist
  • Exclusive to DistroKid distribution
  • Spotify only

Feature.fm Spotify pre-save review

—>Test the presave here

Another very popular Spotify pre-save service out there is Feature.fm. This service started as a way to run audio ads as a “sponsored song” on Deezer and 8 Tracks and now includes ways to run ads on blogs.

The biggest issue with Feature.fm is the price and the fact (it’s reported) that it doesn’t work. They charge you to collect your fans’ email addresses and you have to pay $200/mo to get more than 150 emails. Deal. Breaker.

It looks like this

Pros:

  • Easy to add song (via ISRC)
  • On release day this converts to a regular link and auto adds DSPs (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, YouTube)
  • Gives you different links per platform (for tracking purposes), like IG, FB, email, website, etc
  • Free trial (but no email collection)
  • Ability to add post presave destination (like your website)
  • Ability for the fan to also add song to their own playlist
  • Pre-save option for Apple Music, Tidal and Deezer as well
  • Nice looking, intuitive for fans

Cons:

  • Very expensive: $19/mo to get 50 emails, $39/mo for 150 emails, $199/mo for unlimited emails or $50 for one time pro link
  • Many fans report that it doesn’t actually show up in their library on release day. Sooo it’s reported this DOES NOT WORK!
  • Must opt-in to also follow artist (should be automatic or opt out)
  • Free trial won’t collect emails

Show.co Spotify pre-save review

—>Test the presave here

Well this wins the award for the most frustrating of the bunch. Unless you distributed your song with CD Baby this doesn’t work very well. I actually paid $39 for the Gold option, which I thought gave me Spotify pre-save access, but when I went to run a campaign, it still had the “Upgrade” button there instead of the “Select.” On the pricing page it clearly states that the Gold option gives you pre-save. Welp, no luck. Until I logged into my CD Baby account and clicked the Show.co button from there. Viola! Enabled. So, I guess you need a CD Baby account? Am I getting a refund for the $39 I paid? We’ll see.

What’s most frustrating about this is that it asks you for a Track URI (like Smarturl). But that is not easy to get unless you write into your distributor and ask for it – or unless you distributed it via CD Baby. But I don’t have 3-5 business days for customer support to get back to me. It took me awhile to figure out how to find this. But I found it! It’s a hack.

To get this, go to your Spotify for Artists. Click on your upcoming song that you pitched.

Click the View Playlist pitch from the three dots on the right.

Copy the Track URI directly following “submission” from the URL box.

Now you must add this after “spotify:track:”

So it looks like: spotify:track:6IpbkzG4V79OexCg9ziXVd

Why they don’t explain this to you or make this easier is beyond me. But there you go. You’re welcome.

It looks like this:

Pros:

  • Free with CD Baby distribution
  • Simple layout
  • Custom thank you page
  • Ability to add Google analytics and remarking (Facebook pixel)
  • Ability to embed on a website easily
  • Access to all emails
  • Conversion rate tracking
  • Customize call to action

Cons:

  • Very difficult without CD Baby distribution
  • Expensive $39 or $99/mo without CD Baby account
  • Very glitchy – since I paid first, then clicked in with my CD Baby account, there’s no way to upgrade, downgrade or cancel payment
  • No free trial for Spotify pre-save
  • Track URI required (see above)
  • Cannot customize the URL and not intuitive (not name of artist/song)
  • Emails only show up when you download the CSV

Smarturl Spotify pre-save review

—>Test the presave here

I’ve been using Smarturl for years. They initially were the service that all the labels used for, what they call, “pivot links.” Which is the landing page where all the streaming services appear for a song and you click your preferred service.

They have since added Spotify pre-save. It’s clear Smarturl is run by developers and it seems that there aren’t any graphic designers or Artists part of this operation. It’s not super intuitive and a bit clunky. But it’s free (for many features)! So that’s a major perk.

Smarturl asks for the “Spotify Product Id.” The question mark next to this box says “Right click on the album in Spotify and choose “Share” then “Copy Spotify URI.” Only issue? THE SONG ISN’T ON SPOTIFY YET. Duh. This is pre-save. Like, the song isn’t out yet.

However, I found a hack (like I had to do for Show.co).

Again, go to artists.spotify.com Click Music -> Upcoming -> three dots on the right -> View Pitch

Then in the top URL bar, copy the code directly following “submission”

That’s the Spotify Product Id Smarturl requires.

Pros:

  • It’s free
  • Unlimited email collection
  • Ability to also follow artist
  • Ability to chose a playlist for fan to follow as well
  • Ability to add to user’s playlist
  • Can add header photo to look good on desktop
  • Looks good on Desktop or mobile

Cons:

  • Must create your own email collection Privacy Policy and link people to it for this to work
  • Opt-in for email (most won’t check this box) – it’s worded like marketing emails for companies is worded making you not want to check this
  • Clunky, challenging to use
  • Add to playlist is auto-selected not “Add to My Library” which makes me think most will select a playlist
  • Can’t customize URL
  • Limits your upload images to 150kb (nearly impossible to meet)
  • Must check the “I agree” box to enable Follow or pre-save

****

I’m going to update this report once I have some data on how well this pre-save thing worked. So click above, pick a service, pre-save it and check your library on release day to see if it appears and let me know!

About the Author

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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