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'Predatory': Artists Hit Back Against New Spotify Discovery Feature

16 March 2023 | 3:09 pm | Jessie Lynch

"Spotify has shown time & time again they’re far more interested in their bottom line than the financial well-being of the artists".

Spotify has become a staple app for music lovers worldwide, with a seemingly endless collection of songs and playlists to explore. 

But with so much content to sift through, it can be tough to find new tunes that really resonate with your taste - and that's where Spotify's Discovery feature has come in.

According to Spotify, with Discovery Mode, artists and labels “identify songs that are a priority for them, and our system will add that signal to the algorithms that determine personalised listening sessions.” 

“This signal increases the likelihood of the selected songs being recommended, but does not guarantee it.”

But despite the seemingly innovative change, a slew of artists have called out Spotify’s latest questionable money-making tactic, including American DJ, LUCA LUSH.

The Brooklyn-based DJ took to social media to outline why the new feature on the hugely popular streaming is morally questionable when it comes to struggling artists trying to get their projects out there - and it definitely seems like they’re getting the short end of the stick.

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“The most predatory change to Spotify is ‘Discovery Mode’. U [sic] can now opt in for a 30% reduced royalty rate for increased ‘algorithmic exposure’,” he explained.

“If u [sic] don't, less plays vs anyone who has. Ideally, for Spotify, EVERYONE opts in, they take 30% more revenue & no one gets more plays 🥲”

“The ideal situation would be no one opts in, but the structure forces every manager label & artist to do so if they want to remain competitive on the platform,” he continued, adding that “members of congress have already denounced the change as a form of digital payola”.

“As an artist, you’re told not to speak up about this as you should never bite the hand that feeds you. But Spotify has shown time & time again they’re far more interested in their bottom line than the financial well-being of the artists that make their streaming service possible.”

House producer DeadProxy also commented on the feature via Twitter, saying, “Spotify rolling out their ‘discovery’ model which involves an artist further decreasing royalties in exchange for a boost in viability doesn’t help.”

“I believe decentralised music and control over scarcity can help artists push forward. The power of community can move mountains.”

Musician John Michie added, “I tried discovery mode on Spotify... I saw no increase in plays or listeners... likely getting 30% less for pissing around with it though.”

Meanwhile, Spotify has confirmed that the Discovery process will involve creators agreeing to a “lower ‘promotional’ royalty rate for those streams, where Spotify charges a 30 per cent commission” in exchange “for the promotion”.

“This rate is only for the duration that selected content has opted into the Discovery feed, and only for the portion of streams that occur within Radio & Autoplay. All other streams of the track in areas outside of Radio & Autoplay remain commission-free.”