Spotify is starting to wake up to its pay-to-play problem in regards to playlists. After a Daily Dot investigation, a third party company Spotlister was removed from the platform. Spotlister connected artists with Spotify playlist curators. The issue was that you had to pay to put your music forward for consideration by the curators. The amount you paid depended on the site of the playlist, among other considerations.
Now after that was exposed, Spotify has removed Spotlister’s access to its API and thus its data. As of Friday, Spotlister has shut down and according to Daily Dot, will refund all money that has not been used for playlisting services.
In 2016, Spotify explicitly prohibited “selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist.”
This may not seem all that bad for those who just want to earn a little money for curating great Spotify playlists. However, take it in a context like radio, where payola has been an issue and paying to put your music in front of a radio DJ is illegal. There are different legal classifications for Spotify and the radio, but the idea is the same. Playlisters on Spotify do not get big checks for their work, so charging for placement is an unfortunate side effect of that and the power of being placed. You can get a hit record with thousands or millions of streams if it catches fire on the right playlist.
Other companies offer similar deals, whether they are PR companies or third party submission hubs. The demand is there for this, so don’t be surprised if another Spotlister pops up.