For songwriters and musicians getting their songs on playlists can mean a lot of streams and some real revenue. But how do you get on them? You can answer that question with one word: Payola!
Payola has been around for a long time and refers to the practice of record companies paying radio stations to play their music. Because streaming has replaced radio to some extent and the playlist has replaced the DJ, payola has now infected the streaming world when there is payment to be on playlists.
Billboard has a great article on the subject from August 19, 2015.
The practice has galled many who fear that streaming playlists will become like radio playlists: reachable only by labels and artists with the resources to afford robust promotion. (It costs upward of $300,000 to push a song to radio on a national scale. Also worth noting: The three majors are all equity partners in Spotify.) “It takes something democratic and makes it so that money wins,” grouses a digital executive. (Spokespersons for UMG, Warner Music Group and Sony Music declined comment, although there are those within the companies who insist they do not buy or pay for placement on playlists.)