Spotify will test letting artists promote songs that are going viral

Spotify’s going to test letting artists and labels influence more of what its algorithm promotes. The company announced today a new test for all artists and labels on the platform where they can decide to promote any music that’s important to them. So, for example, if Fleetwood Mac wanted to promote “Dreams” after it went viral on TikTok, they could decide to do so, and Spotify’s algorithm would consider that request when building a radio session or when a listener enters autoplay. Of course, this could apply to any song, including tracks that might be new or that artists want to put extra promotional push behind.

“We want to be able to provide tools that help our artists leverage those moments, so they can be more in control of their success on Spotify and more in charge of their careers,” says Charleton Lamb, product marketing lead at Spotify.

In return for this extra promotional boost, Spotify says it’ll be paying artists a lower “promotional recording royalty rate” whenever songs are played during those autoplay or radio sessions. A spokesperson wouldn’t say how much that rate is because the feature is in testing, but they added that “the idea is for artist teams to be able to earn a positive ROI by using the tool,” and that the company would “calibrate to make sure that the widest group of artists and labels can find success.”

Presumably, this means artists would hope that by promoting the song and taking a loss on those plays, they would make up the revenue if the song catches on and people start directly trying to play it on their own. Although Lamb cited “Dreams” as an example, a potentially better use case is likely a song that artists or labels think will catch on before it already does — for instance, if the label sees viral potential in a song and wants to prime listeners to hear it. At the same time, though, Fleetwood Mac and other viral song stars could promote tracks that have already taken off in the hopes of converting a TikTok listener to a full-fledged Spotify listener and potential fan.

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