Spotify has started testing a new method for gaining revenue, by allowing individual songs to be promoted like an ad at the top of a playlist bar.
At the moment only a select group of users are being included in the trial, and the good news is it looks like it’s possible to opt out of the test. For now at least.
Under Settings, there will be an option under Display Options on desktop and Sponsored Content on mobile that allows you to toggle Show Sponsored Songs to off.
This option will appear in both free tier and premium settings menus but it’s unclear at present if it is possible for free tier users to switch off the new feature. Presumably this is another way for Spotify to try and squeeze some revenue out of its free users.
While it may seem like companies are trying everything they can to get money out of their customers nowadays, this does seem like a fairly uninvasive method, albeit a slightly sneaky one.
Spotify has tried out several different methods for gaining revenue over the years, including audio ads, visual ads, and even allowing companies to sponsor popular playlists, according to Advertising Age.
Below is a Twitter post from Spotify user Liam Maloney showing Call Me by NEIKED being pushed into his feed.
Very happy I’ve found where to turn off “sponsored songs” on @Spotify I don’t pay for a platform AND expect adverts. pic.twitter.com/1AWBr3cm1TJune 19, 2017
The new Sponsored Songs option does raise some interesting questions about the nature of success in the music industry. Similar to the way labels used to pay for songs to be played on the radio, this will open a door for a system where the artist with the most money behind them gets the most exposure, and therefore is more likely to succeed.
One of the things that we like most about Spotify is the fact that using its Discover Weekly playlists we can constantly discover new music that we love listening to. That said, if the music that is being put in front of us is being decided by Spotify for financial reasons rather than because it’s a song we’d really like, it starts to feel a little like we’re being used.
Spotify is always being pulled in three different directions: what’s best for the artists, what’s best for the users, and what’s best for it’s bottom line. Of course if you are using a service for free there is an expectation that you will be paying for it somehow, but something about this feels like the bottom line is being favored over the artists or us.