Photo Credit to Consequence of Sound Article by Megan Vineberg
We haven’t yet spoken on royalties and splits here as we were saving it for the podcast but just as a precursor, Spotify is now offering a service entitled loveAudio in which artists will now be able to receive more exposure. The catch is that Spotify will receive a paid royalty fee for personalized listening sessions. It’s important to note that the placement will not be guaranteed. This new feature is said that this feature will only apply to the algorithm that determines radio and autoplay — though Spotify says it may expand to "other personalized areas" of the app, as stated in the Fader’s news piece.
SPOTIFY OFFICIAL STATEMENT
“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,” the blog post reads. “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. Our personalized recommendations take into account thousands of types of signals: what you’re listening to and when, which songs you’re adding to your playlists, the listening habits of people who have similar tastes, and much more,” it continues. “In order to create algorithms that truly deliver the right song for the right time, we’re also taking into account less obvious factors: things like time of day, or the order in which you’re listening to songs or podcasts, or the release date of a song.”
FROM THE ARTISTS THEMSELVES
Incubus said in a thread on Twitter, “As musicians, we use our voices to express ourselves. Doing so all these years has, for us, highlighted the importance of self-expression both individually and collectively.” While they were speaking about voting, their statement is still valid here.
After hearing about this test drive on Spotify’s newest feature, a conversation started up with a tweet from The Fader, retweeted by artists like Justin Stone and Apollo. Apollo went on to say “the pay per stream is already literally a fraction of a fraction of a penny. Y’all are trippin’”. Kevin Hackett agreed, commenting “This is awesome guys. I’ll just let my landlord know that she’ll be paid in ~exposure~ this month.” Stone in a series of tweets went on to say this about the changes, “Another terrible thing for indie artists. Guessing this will take away release radar (which gets 85% of our streams) unless we pay Spotify (a percentage) of the song to get it in. BIG WACK, spread the word. Spotify is literally trying to put artists in a corner. Trying to get people to pay (a percentage) to get into things that we are already getting into like release radar and discover weekly.”
Huey Mack also commented on the matter, saying, “This is called Payola and it is illegal.”
A producer from Pennsylvania known as Butzy said, “this is why Tidal is dope.” RomanGov, a rapper from Cleveland chimed in with “This is ridiculous bro. Spotify on something, fr.” Darin Herleikson, a music marketer from Seattle replied to Music Alley on the matter saying, “Didn’t realize Spotify royalties could get worse,” and the list goes on.
Ekoh continued the conversation, posting to TikTok, saying “Do you understand how incredibly f*cked up this is? For a lower royalty rate, (which you can look at as them paying you less and you paying them), they will prioritize your song in their algorithm. For the exchanged royalty rate your song is going to pop up more when a user is on autoplay, on a user’s personalized playlists, or on radio station spins. What’s that thing where it’s illegal to pay a radio station to play a certain song? Payola. Now it might not be that extreme but exposure is currency. Exposure is not given on a completely organic level playing field, it’s given to the ones with the deepest pockets, and the independent artists who are already making less money because of what’s going on (in the world) right now, get hurt the most. They even market it as something you would want to do for example if a song is going viral on TikTok ” He goes on to include through closed captioning, “currently Spotify pays on average $0.003 - $0.005 per stream.”
In an effort to get underground artists on the same level as mainstream ones, The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers worked up a petition that would eradicate the pay per play ideology.
WHAT WE CAN DO
According to Michael Walker, founder of Modern Musician, a program to help musicians grow their fanbase and earn more streaming royalties, there are still things we can do on our end to keep the music industry going, get artists funded, and do all of it ethically so.
Private home concerts
Merch (clothing, stickers)
Live streaming (Twitch, Patreon, Youtube, etc.)
Physical copies of CDs
The Bellrays, clients of Modern Musician, who have been around since ‘99 are now profiting $1000 weekly from virtual live streaming donations on Facebook. On Patreon, 100 fans paying $10/month gets the artist $1000 per month.
We suggest continuing to stream your favorite artists on all platforms as much as you enjoy doing so and adding them to your own curated playlists on Spotify. Stream our curated playlists if you like them! For the most part, we try to add in lesser-known artists on there, and we’re on Spotify and Apple Music. The longer you choose to listen to an artist’s song and the more often, the better, regardless of on what medium that is. Consider donating directly to artists on platforms like Bandcamp (minimum amount being $1) to fund artist’s future projects. Some artists will have physical copies of their work you can purchase as well as digital. They use PayPal so your personal information is secure. Purchase from their merch if they have any available.
Our previously curated playlists:
For fans of Metal: The Very Best Of… Metal+ (2020) https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1XNPip7wGtDtRcRABWdIER?si=N9hWC6HxRHqXY2cmx5_WrA
For fans of soul, r&b, hip hop, pop: Get Into The Groove:
For fans of electronic: Electroland:
For fans of alternative: Playlist #13