For artists who do have those opportunities and are comfortable with it, sponsorships, as well as commercial syncs, can contribute an important revenue stream, a component of how theyre able to scrape together a living, says kevin Erickson of the future of Music coalition, when. If brands are able to use branded playlists to score extra cool points from the association with musicians, but without the expense of actually paying musicians anything extra for lending their aura of cool, without even having to obtain permission for the association—well, maybe well. No platform, the avant-punk four-piece deerhoofs 2016 single Plastic Thrills is featured on nike running Tempo mix, which boasts over five hundred thousand followers. The playlist is featured prominently on the workout sub-page within Spotifys Browse feature, along with a few other nike playlists, which is considerably rare—not many playlists found through Browse are currently curated by brands other than Spotify itself or the major labels. In conversation with deerhoof drummer Greg saunier about the nike playlist, he recalls a time in 2007 when a group of artists filed a class action lawsuit against Camel cigarettes and. Rolling Stone for publishing an advertorial on the history of indie rock, one that used more than one hundred artist names without permission.
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Only it subtracts the part where artists get paid. On their Brand Playlist guidelines page linked within the companys Terms and Conditions, Spotify offers telling advice to brands: If you have a reason to believe a specific artist may have a problem summary with your brand, its probably smart to stay away from that artist. Keep your playlists editorial in nature; dont try to make it a commercial for your product. Just like other Spotify users do, show the world what kind of music your brand likes to listen to while partying, driving, or enjoying a cup of coffee. It is rainy absurd to suggest that a playlist created by bacardi, gatorade, bmw, or Victorias Secret could exist for any purpose other than the sale of its liquor, sports drinks, cars, or fancy lingerie. And this encouragement of a false sense of objectivity found on its Terms of Service is seen nowhere on its Spotify for Brands website, where it has published a series of articles luring corporations to the platform: In the biggest game of the year, many. Using music effectively can also mean curating the perfect playlist that reflects the sound of your brand. Brand playlists are advertisements, even if Spotify strives to imbue them with so-called editorial integrity. Such uncompensated advertorial playlists are harmful in that they offer artists no option to opt-out, but also because they undercut what can sometimes be a valuable source of revenue for artists. If brands can align themselves with artists without having to pay specifically for individual tracks or artist appearances, what do we think theyll do? Can we at least give people the option to sell out if they want?
This has led to a shredder proliferation of playlists made by brands. For example: the coffeehouse pop made by the official Starbucks page, or the running Tempo mix created by nike women. So long as corporations have at least twenty songs on their playlists and dont include an artist more than once, theyre good. In the past, such an arrangement would require a given artist to sign a licensing or advertising deal, and it often appeared transactional, hence the traditional notion of selling out. Today on Spotify, artists often have no idea theyve been added to these playlists. I only managed to discover this phenomenon upon plugging a friends band name into a tool called Spot On Track, which uses Spotifys public api to present the different playlists where specific artists and their tracks appear. My friends band was completely unaware of its inclusion on the nike and Starbucks playlists, and the band receives no additional compensation beyond the usual streaming royalties sent to labels and rights-holders.
In many ways, this is not unlike the playlist category called Focus that we see now on Spotify. In March 2011, muzak was purchased by mood Media, a company that provides in-store music, signs, scents, and video content. The similarity between the objectives of companies like muzak and mood Media, and the proliferation of mood-based playlists on Spotify, is more than just a linguistic coincidence; Spotify playlists work to attract brands and advertisers of all types to the platform. The automation of Selling Out. Advertising and branding products are used all over Spotify: videos, audio, commercial breaks, clickable image pop-ups, overlays, the sponsoring of (extremely popular) Spotify-owned playlists, the sponsoring of live session videos, home page takeovers, and standalone advertisements. Some are banner advertisements, others are advertorial, and still others blur the line. And this is part of a grander confusion: the very idea of what it means to be an independent artist in 2017 has been eroded as more and more artists find themselves beholden to corporate platforms of all types. Spotify also presents a new and complicated extension of hyper-commercial webspace, and its a development that could prove to be particularly harmful for musicians: the corporate-branded playlists. This feature could be explained as the platforms interpretation of corporate personhood, where paid-for brand accounts can create their own profiles and make playlists in the manner of the platforms regular users.
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Hes trying to play ball with the platform about by pitching playlists, to varying effect. The more vanilla the release, the better it works for Spotify. If its challenging music? Nah, he says, telling me about all of the experimental, noise, and comparatively aggressive music on his label that goes unheard on the platform. It leaves artists behind.
If Spotify is just feeding easy music to everybody, where does the art form go? Is anybody going to be able to push boundaries and break through to a wide audience anymore? We should call this what it is: the automation of selling out. Indeed, Spotifys obsession with mood and activity-based playlists has contributed to all music becoming more like muzak, a brand that created, programmed, and licensed songs for retail stores throughout the twentieth century. In the 1930s, the company prioritized workplace soundtracks that were meant to heighten productivity, using research to evaluate what listeners responded to most.
The rest of the front page arrangement depends on the date and time, but youll likely see one of its most prized brands—like the popular and also major label-saturated Rapcaviar—or else music that somehow opportunistically rides the news cycle: Which celebrity musician died today? Otherwise, youll find songs tied to moods or activities, like good Vibes or Wild Free. And you will most certainly see something along the lines of Chilled Folk, chill Hits, evening Chill, Chilled r b, indie chillout, or Chill Tracks. Spotify loves chill playlists: theyre the purest distillation of its ambition to turn all music into emotional wallpaper. Theyre also tied to what its algorithm manipulates best: mood and affect.
Note how the generically designed, nearly stock photo images attached to these playlists rely on the selfsame clickbait-y tactics of content farms, which are famous for attacking a readers basest human moods and instincts. Only here the goal is to fit music snugly into an emotional regulation capsule optimized for maximum clicks: ain, Ambient Chill, Chill covers. Piano in the background is one of the most aptly titled; in the background could be added to the majority of Spotify playlists. As an industry insider once explained to me, digital strategists have identified lean back listening as an ever more popular Spotify-induced phenomenon. It turns out that playlists have spawned a new type of music listener, one who thinks less about the artist or album they are seeking out, and instead connects with emotions, moods and activities, where they just pick a playlist and let it roll: Chillin. These algorithmically designed playlists, in other words, have seized on an audience of distracted, perhaps overworked, or anxious listeners whose stress-filled clicks now generate anesthetized, algorithmically designed playlists. One independent label owner I spoke with has watched his records physical and digital sales decline week by week.
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This means one thing: playlists are king, and particularly the ones curated by Spotify literature itself. An unprecedented amount of data (skip rates and completion rates determine whether a song survives) and human-machine technology are deployed to quantify your tastes. This is what lies behind the magic of Spotify. Spotify and Chill, to understand the danger Spotify poses to the music industry—and to music itself—you first have to dig beneath the user experience and examine its algorithmic schemes. Spotifys front page Browse screen presents a classic illusion of choice, a stream of genre and mood playlists, charts, new releases, and now podcasts and video. It all appears limitless, a function of the platforms infinite supply, but in reality it is tightly controlled by Spotifys staff and dictated by the interests of major labels, brands, and other cash-rich businesses who have gamed the system. On Monday, youll find Discover weekly, an algorithmically created playlist of recommendations based on your listening habits. On Friday, theres New Music Friday, a highly coveted and well trafficked playlist of mostly top-40 content, thoroughly inaccessible to anyone but major labels.
Regulators before the end of this calendar year and to go public in the first or second quarter of 2018. Bloomberg reports that it recently hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc., morgan Stanley, and Allen. To assess its options. Yet, despite its conventional market viability, there are key differences between Spotify and its rivals, Apple music and Amazon Music, which both have the luxury of capitalizing on overpriced, fun-sized plastic and metal surveillance machines. For Apple music, the bottom line is selling iPhones, laptops, ipads, and other hardware. Streaming music makes those products more valuable. For Amazon Music, the motive is similar; they aim to sell Alexa devices and Amazon Prime subscriptions. But Spotifys worth is more ephemeral. Its value—what makes it addictive for listeners, essay a necessity for artists, and a worthwhile investment for venture capitalists—lies in its algorithmic music discovery products and its ability to make the entire music industry conform to the new standards it sets.
mass that paying.99 per month for access to thirty million songs is a solid, even virtuous idea. Every song in the world for less than your shitty airport meal. What could go wrong? Billionaires have thrown a lot of money at Spotify. As of September 2017, the platform has been valued at 16 billion by venture capitalists who see it as the next Netflix, and who have perhaps fooled themselves into trusting that this exploitative model will save the music industry. Spotifys endgame, for now, is to go public. The company could be worth 20 billion by next year, when it will likely be listed on the new York Stock Exchange. According to reuters, Spotify plans to file its intention of a public offering with.
Its an awkward phenomenon that now pervades a growing pdf cross-section of industries, a type of techno-solutionism thats unbearable because it insistently capitalizes on quick fixes for problems that didnt exist to begin with. Its also a disadvantageous mutation of principles that marketers have historically leveraged to make us feel bad about ourselves so that well buy more shit we dont need. It is all of these things, and it is also becoming the operating motive of the music industry. The music world continues to be exceedingly vulnerable, and there are looming questions that desperately need to be addressed. Most important: How can artists distribute and sell their work in a digital economy beholden to ruthlessly commercial and centralized interests? Enter Spotify, a platform that is definitely not the answer. In fact, it only exacerbates such conundrums. Yet for now it has manipulated the vast majority of music industry players into regarding it as a saving grace.
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—Priests, pink White house (2017 imagine you are in an guaranteed airport, and you have forgotten to eat lunch. Its a mistake you will pay for with a dull, expensive dinner. Hungry, meandering, you happen upon one of those ipads that line every other table, a machine that allows you to order without talking to other humans—a circumstance provided by capitalisms boundless quest to cash in on convenience. Of course, this doesnt make your experience any easier: within minutes, an employee scrambles over to assist you with the device, which keeps freezing when you choose the bowls tab. Can I just tell you my order? You ask, half-laughing, thoroughly hoping for a moment of commiserating solidarity over this disruptor fail. Instead she grabs the thing and helps you finalize your purchase. This person hates her job, but shes lucky that, for the moment, she still has. This worker is teaching people to use the ipads that will one day replace her.