Spotify doesn’t care about you

Peter O'Neill

Like a lot of big-tech companies, Spotify wants you to think of them as a friend.

The personalisation of capitalism can be seen not just from McDonald’s cheekily replying to Burger King on Twitter that their prices are “so cringe bro”, or in Paddy Power’s EPIC BANTER LADS content. It’s also there, in how Spotify markets itself as the cool, hipster record store clerk, helping you discover new bands.

Most people see through this obvious ploy for what it is, a tool to get music fast and whenever you want it. However, who Spotify is not a friend to is musicians.

A study taken by Digital Music News in 2019 found that the streaming service pays on average just $0.00437 for every stream of a song. While other streaming services like Apple or Tidal pay similar amounts, Spotify not only pays the lowest but is also the most popular of the companies, becoming synonymous with streaming in a similar way that Netflix has.

This heinous undervaluing of music is disgusting to say the least, however, Spotify has a great solution to help out. The company announced a new initiative on their blog, that artists or labels can now effectively pay to be featured more in the curated playlists it gives users.

According to Gizmodo.com, Spotify said in their statements that artists can pick songs they’ve uploaded, as “that’s a priority for them” and in exchange for accepting a “promotional recording royalty rate”, Spotify may promote their music. Essentially, it’s a modern payola scandal.

What will most likely happen, is that richer artists who can afford to pay more to be promoted will benefit from this. If you cannot afford to pay this, you may be left behind for Spotify’s favoured sons and daughters.

This is all the more galling, when you think about how this is happening in the middle of a global pandemic that has obliterated the live music scene. Is this the best Spotify can do for artists?

As with the poor rates for streaming, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé are not going to be affected by this. It’ll be the smaller musicians struggling to live.

Keep that in mind when you’re sharing your Spotify Wrapped playlists this year. Spotify is not your friend or anyone else’s bar the rich and powerful.

Peter O’Neill

Image Credit: Spotify