Spotify to let artists promote music in user recommendations in exchange for different royalty rates

To be trialled in Spotify's Radio and Autoplay features upon launch

Spotify is testing a new feature allowing artists to boost visibility of specific tracks through the platform’s recommendation algorithms, in exchange for different royalty rates on those songs’ streams.

The boosted songs will appear in Spotify’s Radio and Autoplay features upon launch, with the potential to expand to other personalised listening modes available on the platform.

The new feature, named “Discovery Mode”, was announced yesterday (November 2) in a press release from Spotify’s newsroom. It will initially be tested with artists and labels in the US, with plans of a worldwide rollout if the feature is deemed successful.

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A Spotify spokesperson told The Verge the “Discovery Mode” royalty rates were yet to be revealed as the feature was still in testing. However, they said “the idea is for artist teams to be able to earn a positive ROI by using the tool”.

“In this new experiment, artists and labels can identify music that’s a priority for them, and our system will add that signal to the algorithm that determines personalized listening sessions,” reads Spotify’s blog post announcing the feature.

“This allows our algorithms to account for what’s important to the artist – perhaps a song they’re particularly excited about, an album anniversary they’re celebrating, a viral cultural moment they’re experiencing, or other factors they care about.”

As reported by Music Ally, the “promotional recording royalty rate” discussed in the blog post could potentially mean a lower royalty rate paid to rights holders. In addition, Spotify notes that the new feature will not “guarantee placement to labels or artists”.

“To ensure the tool is accessible to artists at any stage of their careers, it won’t require any upfront budget,” Spotify’s post continues.

“Instead, labels or rights holders agree to be paid a promotional recording royalty rate for streams in personalized listening sessions where we provided this service.”

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Last week, the United Musicians and Allied Workers Union (UMAW) started a new campaign titled ‘Justice at Spotify’ which, among other requests, is demanding that the platform raise its average streaming royalty from $.0038 USD to a penny per stream for all artists.

At the time of writing, over 4,000 artists had signed the UMAW’s petition, including Thurston MooreKing Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Frankie Cosmos, DeerhoofJulianna Barwick, JD Samson, DIIVAlex Somers, Zola Jesus and more.

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