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Spotify Amplifies Artists in Exchange for Royalty Reduction

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images)

Spotify prides itself on connecting listeners with music they’ve never heard before. And soon, there may be even more ways for artists and labels to promote songs to new audiences.

A fresh experiment will allow creators to identify “priorities”—tracks, albums, moments, etc.—they want widely circulated across the streaming service to, for instance, spotlight a new song, album anniversary, or viral video.

The platform already takes into account signals like what you’re listening to and when, which songs you add to playlists, the listening habits of people with similar taste, even the order in which you play songs or podcasts and the release date of a track.

“Artists tell us they want more opportunities to connect with new listeners,” a Spotify blog announcement said. “And we believe our recommendations should also be informed by artists—their priorities and what they have to say about their music.”

What goes into Spotify's personalized recommendations?

What goes into Spotify’s personalized recommendations? (Photo via Spotify)

To ensure this tool is “accessible to artists at any stage of their careers,” Spotify won’t charge an upfront budget. Instead, labels and artists must agree to a “promotional recording royalty rate” for streams—i.e. they’ll earn reduced royalties.

That’s not the only sacrifice, though. Spotify doesn’t guarantee placement. Rather, it claims to rely entirely on its listeners, who can make or break an artist: If a particular song resonates with folks, great—it’ll keep appearing online; if not, it will “quickly be pulled back.”

“Listener satisfaction is our priority,” according to the blog. “We only ever recommend music we think listeners want to hear.” The pilot will launch first in Spotify’s Radio and Autoplay formats, where most people go to discover new music. If successful, the feature will expand to other areas of the site.

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