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Get more spotify streams with the waterfall release strategy

What is a waterfall release strategy?

Waterfall release strategy is a new strategy that became quite popular thanks to Spotify and its algorithms. Musicians release multiple singles from the upcoming EP or album step-by-step. Moreover, each subsequent single includes all previously released singles from the same album. As a result, previously released singles receive additional streams because of autoplay or because people decide to listen to all songs in the list (maybe they haven't heard them or want to refresh them in their memory).

Waterfall release strategy

Moreover, the waterfall release strategy allows you to get more conversions from a Facebook or Instagram ad campaign. When promoting a single, instead of sending people to one song, you can send them to a waterfall release and get more streams from the same number of conversions.

And the best part is that there are almost no downsides to using this strategy. The only thing that can be bothering is that your song catalog on Spotify and other platforms becomes a bit more cluttered and less organized. However, if you use the waterfall strategy smartly and don't overuse it, it can be very beneficial without any harm.


How to use the waterfall release strategy in practice?

I assume you use DistroKid or a similar platform to distribute your music to all digital platforms and streaming services (check out our comparison of the best digital music distribution platforms in 2023). So, once you release your first single, your song receives an ISRC number (don't confuse it with the UPC number, which is for RELEASES and not SONGS). Here is an example of where to find the ISRC code of a previously released song in DISTROKID.

Where To Find ISRC in DistroKid account

So, when you release your second single, make it a release with multiple songs and include both your second single (first place in order) and your first single (second place in order). Make sure you use EXACTLY the same name and audio file for the previously released song, so all the stream data remains. Then, make sure you add the ISRC of that previously released song. Once you finish setting up everything else, you will get an upcoming single released that consists of two songs - your new single and the previously released single. This can be repeated any number of times, but I personally prefer to limit the number of single waterfall releases to 3. Starting with 4 songs, your release becomes an EP on Spotify, and this makes your music catalog more confusing.

If you need help with setting up your waterfall releases and want to see how this works in practice, I recommend this video by Andrew Southworth.

A few tips on how to use the waterfall release strategy smartly:

- Plan your album release in advance and schedule 3 single releases before the album drops.
- Normally, the next single should be released not earlier than 4 weeks after the previous one, so you get enough time to promote it and take advantage of all the algorithmic playlist placements on Spotify (Release Radar, Discover Weekly, etc.). If you release two singles in a shorter time window, your new song will replace the old song in Release Radar.
- If you don’t want to clutter your music catalog on Spotify, don’t release more than 3 singles with the waterfall strategy.
- Once you release your 2nd or 3rd single with the waterfall strategy, stop any Facebook/Instagram ad campaigns for your previously released singles. You don’t need to spend your budget promoting the first single when you can promote the next single AND the previous one.
- Ideally, you want to use a different cover artwork for each single release to separate them. If you can’t afford that, at least make a few different color versions of your album art for every single release.

Vladyslav Tsarenko | CEO at All4band Design