Is Spotify’s new Discovery Mode another form of Pay to Play?
Spotify has made changes with the ‘New Pay for Influence Discovery Mode’ that has become a controversial issue.
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‘Discovery Mode’ works by letting a label or artist identify a track that they want prioritized. That track is then played in listeners’ personalized Auto play or Radio feeds.
The artist must opt in, and agree to being paid a lower recording royalty rate for streams in those personalized sessions (in Radio and Autoplay).
This seems to be replacing the Discovery and Fresh Finds modes that has delivered new music to listeners free of charge in the past.
Music curators like myself, were discovery music from the artists we follow and artists that were similar to what we listen to weekly with this system.
In my opinion, it was working fine and in fact just needed to double its recommendations to 200+ singles delivered every friday.
Now with the new discovery mode, an artist has to give up more of their royalties just to be recommended. How is that fair?
According to the reporting from their blog, if an artist opts out or a song doesn’t perform well, Spotify will remove it immediately from discovery and not give that track a chance to recover or be discovered.
This seems like an unfair practice that will only serve those musicians who already have hard core fans and a more commercial sound.
Unique songs and underground flavors probably will be surpressed by this new system and no longer be able to find an audience on this platform.
This announcement suggesting that artists can choose to be paid less per stream for their tracks to be played in personalized feeds couldn’t have come at a worse time for SPOTIFY in terms of its reputation amongst the wider artist community.
Just last week, Spotify was issued with an open letter from the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers demanding better payment and claiming that the streaming platform “encourages labels and management companies to pay for plays on the platform”.
“The practice amounts to payola,” added the letter.
“It is unacceptable and must be stopped.”
Unsurprisingly, Discovery Mode immediately drew criticism from artists. David Lowery, for example, suggested via a tweet that “This a form of payola or sponsored social media post. It is not necessarily illegal but the tracks would need to be labeled”.
Things you may not know about Spotify:
- Spotify claims to drive 16 billion artist discoveries every month to its 320 million monthly users yet more than 80% of the music on Spotify continues to go unheard.
- A recent blog post claimed that Spotify is “actively refining [its] algorithms to enable even more fan discoveries of new artists each month” yet this seems to only come through the Pay only Discovery Mode.
- Spotify keeps boasting that they are a platform build to give artists a way to have a sustainable career, yet they pay less than any other platform, now they want more money for placement on their discover pages and there are no real tools that encourage music listeners to subscribe to an artist right when the music is playing on a playlist. So how is the artist supposed to build a relationship with the listeners they are now paying to reach?
- IT’S GOING TO COST ARTISTS AND LABELS IN ROYALTIES in order to gain discovery that was supposed to be free based on fan loyalty and the quality of the music.
- In the past Spotify promised to bring tools to artist that would help them make money and turn their music into a sustainable career, this seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
- Now that musicians have helped Spotify build a huge platform with their music, Spotify seems to be turning yet another blind corner disappointing their base with another move that seems self serving.
- Musicians believed that Spotify was building a platform to help them, but their idea of helping now is charging for discovery that used to be free. Where is the hope in that for a promising future?
It’s time for you to tell us how you feel about it.. Maybe we can influence change and come up with something better.
Leave your thoughts below….
Article by Jacqueline Jax