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In Spotify’s case, the paid-for ‘Music For You’ pop-ups will land within both free and premium accounts. These cards already exist, organically alerting fans of artists on Spotify when a major new release has arrived — but soon labels will be able to manipulate which fans see what by digging into their wallets.
Another important aspect to all of this: Premium Spotify users will be able to turn off sponsored ‘Music For You’ alerts, but free users will be stuck with them.
“We [currently] personalize these new album recommendations based on your listening taste, combined with human curation,” explains Spotify in a new user-facing blog postannouncing the change. “With an upcoming test we’re running in the US, we’re giving artists and their teams the ability to directly tap into this process and connect with the fans that care most about their music.”
The firm continues: “In this test, we will let artist teams pay to sponsor these recommendations, giving them the power to tell their listeners on Spotify — across both our Free and Premium tiers — about their latest release. You’ll now hear from a wider range of artists, which means you’re less likely to miss out on new releases from your favorites.”
To reiterate: Spotify views this paid-for promotion as a ‘test’ and is, for now, exclusively restricting it to its platform in the US.
It is also being very careful about not irritating its users: Spotify says that labels will only be able to target “frequent listeners” of an act with ‘Music For You’, or users who have actively followed said artist.
There are two big takeaways here for the music industry and for Spotify’s watchers on Wall Street: (i) The dam has now burst on Spotify as a targeted ad network for those looking to promote artists to fans by giving SPOT marketing money — although first-party playlist listings still remain off-limits; and (ii) Spotify’s long-teased ‘two-sided marketplace’ — in which it could potentially charge labels and/or artists for tools that benefit their ability to create and/or market their music — is now officially open for business.
Beck Kloss, Vice President, Creator, Spotify, said: “Part of our marketplace mission is to create tools that bring artists and fans closer together. With our unique understanding of listener preferences and ability to deliver personalized recommendations, we can help artists reach the fans that care most about their music, driving value for both artists and fans.
“We view this as the next iteration of the popular recommendation and discovery features listeners already love on Spotify.”
Jordyn Reese, Product Manager, US Latin & Urban, ONErpm, said: “As an independent distributor, it’s essential for us to spend our marketing budgets wisely and find creative strategies to develop our artists’ audiences. It’s really exciting to see Spotify is creating tools that are designed from the ground up with music marketing in mind, and giving indies more power to reach their fans with new music.
“This will absolutely be one of the top tools in our growth arsenal.”