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Spotify Unveils New Algorithm Boost Feature

By Darius Mullin @iamdariusmullin | November 3, 2020

Yesterday, Spotify announced a new feature allowing artists to choose music to receive an algorithm boost.

Songs selected for this feature will be flagged to be given extra attention by Spotify’s algorithms, the programs which automatically pick out songs that listeners will be introduced to, and one of the most important ways that artists are discovered in an age dominated by digital streaming.

The cost of using this new tool?

Artists and labels yield to a “promotional recording royalty rate” while their songs undergo the boost.

In other words, Spotify will pay artists less per stream in exchange for showing their music to a greater audience.

What does this mean?

Spotify is essentially implementing a “pay-to-play” model, wherein artists must sacrifice their already meager streaming royalties in order to get on Spotify’s good side. Then maybe more people will hear their music:

“We [Spotify] won’t guarantee placement to labels or artists, and we only ever recommend music we think listeners will want to hear.”

This comes less than a week after more than 4000 independent musicians and songwriters joined together to back the “Justice at Spotify” campaign asking that Spotify increase streaming payout to artists.

Many artists and others within the music industry were not happy with this new development on Spotify’s part.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which using the algorithm boost becomes commonplace and those who opt out of the program are left in the dust, unlistened-to and undiscovered.

Eventually, every label and musician will be using Spotify’s algorithm boost option and, in the words of Syndrome from The Incredibles, “When everyone’s super… no one will be”.

Once everyone is receiving “amplified” exposure, everyone is once again on the same level. Essentially, nothing has changed – except that artists are now paid a lower royalty rate. It’s a pay cut without the payoff.

Spotify dominates the music industry in 2020, but artists seem to be constantly locked in a battle with the streaming giant to receive a reasonable payout. Spotify’s new algorithm boost feature is the most recent development in an ongoing struggle, highlighting once again the importance of supporting artists beyond mere streams.

What does this mean for the Christian Hip Hop community?

Ours is a community that consists primarily of independent artists. A community that already fights what appears to be an uphill battle when it comes to making any sort of profit.

The truth is, it is probably too early to know for sure. 

One thing that is certain, everyone has an opinion. That being said, we would love to know yours!

Hit the comments section and let us know your thoughts on this latest news from Spotify.

Will you look for ways to help artists benefit from the new procedures on Spotify? Is convenience more important for you than finding the best way to support artists? If there was a clearly beneficial alternative, would you choose to support it?

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