Spotify is testing out a tool that will let artists and labels give specific tracks increased exposure in the service's recommendation algorithms, in exchange for lower royalty payment on those streams. Describing the new feature in a post on their blog, Spotify writes:

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. 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.

To ensure the tool is accessible to artists at any stage of their careers, it won’t require any upfront budget. 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.

As Music Ally points out, a "promotional recording royalty rate" means a lower rate, and the tool, which will be called Discovery Mode, would boost selected songs' placements in Spotify's Autoplay function, and in its Radio section.

Spotify's blog post continues, "If the songs resonate with listeners, we’ll keep trying them in similar sessions. If the songs don’t perform well, they’ll quickly be pulled back. Listener satisfaction is our priority—we won’t guarantee placement to labels or artists, and we only ever recommend music we think listeners will want to hear."

News of this tool comes a week after over 15k artists signed onto Justice at Spotify, a campaign demanding increased royalty payments to artists, of at least a penny per stream, as well as increased transparency, and an end to legal battles with artists. "Music workers create all of the enormous wealth Spotify accumulates for its CEO, its investors, and the major labels," the campaign's website reads. "But we artists continue to be underpaid, misled, and otherwise exploited by the company. As Spotify’s valuation soars, we have seen no increase in our streaming payments. The company’s closed-door contracts and payola schemes ensure that only musicians already on top with extensive resources can succeed on the platform. As COVID 19 economically devastates music workers everywhere, it’s even clearer that Spotify’s existing model is counter to the needs of the vast majority of artists. "

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