Spotify Firmly Addresses Pay-for-Playlist Schemes: “You Cannot Pay to Get on an Official Spotify Playlist”

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The potential exposure – and revenue – associated with prominent Spotify playlists is hardly a secret, and needless to say, competition for the highly coveted spots is accordingly fierce. But during a recent Q&A session, employees of the leading music streaming service emphasized in no uncertain terms that artists and labels cannot buy their way onto playlists. 

Spotify offered its firm response to pay-for-playlist schemes as part of a larger effort “to create a greater sense of understanding around playlisting.” Instagram users submitted their most pressing questions about Spotify playlists, and the inquiries were forwarded to and addressed by playlist editors themselves. The specific query concerning for-sale playlist influence read: “Does paying for user curated playlist promotion look bad?” 

The Spotify respondent(s) wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter, unequivocally stating: “First things first, you cannot pay to get on an official Spotify playlist.” Additionally, the playlist editors indicated that any individual or company that offers placements in exchange for cash “is a streaming manipulation service that goes against Spotify’s guidelines for music promotion.” However, the resource didn’t identify potential disciplinary responses to the practice, relaying only that “we routinely remove user-generated playlists that claim to offer” placements. 

“The following is not permitted for any reason whatsoever: Selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting or offering to accept any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist,” Spotify playlist editors further elaborated. 

In their clear-cut responses to 15 other artist-submitted questions about Spotify playlists, the employees provided similarly invaluable insight and specifications. Blog mentions and radio playtime are “not at all essential in piquing the interest of our editors,” the company officials stated. And between the 2018 debut of playlist pitching and February of this year, the Stockholm-based streaming service has “playlisted 72,000 artists and playlisted 20% of pitches.” 

Regarding the pitches themselves, playlist curators recommended: “Make sure you submit your track at least a week in advance of its release, and fill in every part of the submission form as accurately as possible.” The extensive body of text also specified that “getting your song on a playlist is in no way whatsoever influenced by creating relationships with editors.” 

Lastly, the Q&A session dispelled the notion that certain distributors are in an advantageous position to score placements on Spotify playlists for their artists: “You can use the distributor of your choosing—we don’t discriminate.” 

Earlier this week, we reported that Spotify and Universal Music Group (UMG) had closed a massive, multiyear licensing agreement, encompassing “collaboration on new, state-of-the-art marketing campaigns across Spotify’s platform.” SPOT shares touched an all-time-high of nearly $300 following the deal’s announcement, though a subsequent selloff brought about an apparent dip, with the stock’s per-share price closing at $268.74 today. 

9 Responses

  1. I Hate You


    You Are Apart Of The Monopoly…


    We Are Happy To Take Your Money…

    • Lance Allen

      Spotify accepts many tracks from labels that are “royalty free” from any PRO. They use these tracks in many or their instrumental playlists! Epidemic sound and Firefly are two of the big ones that do this. How is this any different than accepting money?!!? It’s a different way but it really effect ma things for musicians who work their ass off, promoting their music, advertising Spotify and so on.
      Here is my artist profile. I’d love for you to follow me and enjoy my music.

  2. Tom Hendricks

    Spotify, show me a major playlist that does not have musicians from the Big Three Labels!
    Here is an analogy. What if the entire sports industry was like the music industry. That would mean that 3 mega corporations would own every team in every sport in the world, and only 20 athletes would make all the millions.

    • Roger Scott Craig

      Hey Tom, well how do we fix the corrupt music business? You know when ten years ago I got the support of so many people in the Beatles camp and the AFM to actually do something to fix our business the musicians all told me they were too busy to help! Plus they don’t have much money. And now the Big three control everything and there is no solution in this new Spotify/Youtube world. I spent my time and money trying to do something and what chance does anybody have going up against the big three corporations? A direct Platform between musicians and music fans with variable pricing is what we need, owned and operated by the musicians and not these middle men! The same old 10% going to the artists and 90% to the middle men just doesn’t work in 2020

      • ben

        you’re totally right!.. let’s remember that in the past people needed majors in order to reach a wide audience, today everything has changed, proof is the artists thriving without any major/label contract. (a label/major contract might even be a noose) some are still owe money to their label years after the contract was signed and now they are even stuck..because of that contract. We can witness fights between artists and majors regarding toxic contracts almost every week. (one of the last examples we’ve heard about last week was Kreayshawn)..
        but it’s was just a miscalculation for the major, capitilizing on a one single internet buzz.

        The only big issue maybe, is the investment, the advance artist would get, for recording, touring, promotion etc.. and even that is now something from the past…recording isn’t an issue anymore, anyone can bulid an album, without even getting in a super expensive recording studio, some self made albums sounds sometimes even better than some costing hundred thousands dollars…promotion isn’t a big issue anymore.. as long as an artist buit his organic fan base.. it takes more time but it isn’t impossible.

        the problem is the middle men.. I do agre.. people who do nothing but get the reward, while the artist doesn’t. It’s about time to get rid of all these parasites.

        there’s a very interresting short video explaining the “typical record deal” and how all this works, and why some A-list artists/bands are broke.. (even if they don’t recognize it publicly)

        if you some of you want to watch, it’s available on “Scott McMahon – Film Trooper” youtube’ channel, the video is “how the music industry works”
        explanation start from 1’15

        Some who have signed a record deal with a major, are mostly living on advances they will have to repay from their earnings.. it can take years, if they’re lucky enough… some just show off, boasting about their wealth..but forget to tell their fans that they live with a huge pile of debt…

        • ben

          woops, i’m sorry for typos.. please don’t trash me for that 😉

  3. Anonymous

    These days desperate small musicians have to break their albums into singles and try to release a single every week just for getting the chances of playlisting. Not just, hip-hop, pop or rock, every genre.

    Thankyou, Spotify, for the contribution the death of albums.

    • David Packer

      Thank Steve Jobs and iTunes for the death of the album!

      • bne

        morevoer when we realize both.. Itune and Steve Jobs are now dead..