News has circulated today that Spotify is reportedly looking to add “sponsored songs” to user’s playlists. The streaming service would allow labels to pay to put songs in free-tiered user’s playlists. Some may be freaking out that this is an invasion of their privacy, but I will tell you why you shouldn't be worried about a thing.
First, in the free tier, users are already being served ads in between songs. These new sponsored songs songs will serve as a whole piece of music, instead of just a short snippet of a song or promo for an event or piece of music coming up, which could be more or less obtrusive, depending on the piece of audio. However, as The Fader reports, these will be highly targeted, so your nu-disco playlist likely won’t get a Taylor Swift song or your deep, black v-neck techno playlist likely won’t get a Drake song.
Second, and potentially the most important note, users can opt out of this. As noted by The Verge, it is few steps in your settings and the sponsored songs can be turned off. If that option will remain there forever remains to be seen, but for now, fans will be able to turn this off.
It only applies to free users, so the 50 million of 140 million active, that pay for the service won’t be affected.
Spotify already has suggestions at the bottom of playlists that can be very useful. The paid part of the algorithm could turn out to be useful from time to time. Now they are just inserted into your playlist for a fee. And if you think there is some sort of ethical, pay-for-play problem here, well it has been happening for years.
At the end of the day, it is a way for Spotify to raise some money and close its revenue gap after posting a nearly $600 million loss. This comes despite growing its revenue to $3.3 billion. The company is expected to announce an IPO sometime in the near future, but will need some stronger financials to withstand the glare of shareholders.