Want your latest song or album promoted to millions of users on Spotify? Now, you can pay for that.
Profitability — or lack thereof — is now forcing Spotify to charge for promotional placements. Just this morning, the streaming platform announced that anyone can promote a song or album by simply paying a pre-determined price.
These paid-for alerts will take the form of full-screen ‘recommendations,’ which essentially take over the entire app. Premium users can opt-out of the alerts, but will also receive them by default. Spotify has been testing the concept on mobile for a few months to select users.
Spotify emphasized that this is just a test, specifically for the U.S. With enough backlash, Spotify could nix the program, though let’s see if anyone cares. The streaming giant also downplayed the direct pay-for-promotion nature of the program, focusing instead on its existing algorithms and human curation.
Paying money, you see, only accentuates the existing recommendation flow. Spotify explained that the blasts will only go to audiences that have listened to or followed the artist previously. “We personalize these new album recommendations based on your listening taste, combined with human curation,” Spotify explained in a blog post. “With an upcoming test we’re running in the U.S., we’re giving artists and their teams the ability to directly tap into this process and connect with the fans that care most about their music.”
This isn’t payment for inclusion into playlists, which would be a more blatant form of ‘playlist payola’.
But major labels, who are part-owners of the platform, have long secured juicy playlist slots and promotional placements. Now, it looks like the pay-for-placement game is opening to a broader group — at least for those that can afford it.
Maybe that’s a good thing, both for smaller artists and labels and Spotify itself. Even fans may benefit, with motivated artists potentially connecting with receptive listeners.
Spotify is aiming to keep the recommendations relevant to users, even though they’re paid. So classical fans won’t get Selena Gomez alerts — at least according to the plan. “One thing that won’t change is that these recommendations will continue to be powered by your music taste, so you will only hear from artists that you frequently listen to or follow,” Spotify reiterated. “We hope you enjoy these recommendations — but if you’re not into them, Premium subscribers can turn them off.”