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Businesses Music The Almighty Buck

Inside the Booming Black Market For Spotify Playlists (dailydot.com) 44

The black market for Spotify playlists is booming. It's cheaper than you might expect to hack the system -- and if it's done right, it more than pays for itself, the Daily Dot reports. From the article: It's impossible to overstate the value of Spotify playlists. The company dominates the streaming music market, with 159 million active users and 71 million paid subscribers -- nearly double Apple Music's subscription base, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. More importantly, Spotify has made playlists its defining feature. [...] The rising value of Spotify playlists has spurred a new form of payola -- the decades-old illegal practice of paying for a song to be broadcast on the radio -- with massive amounts of money changing hands behind the scenes. An August 2015 expose by Billboard quoted an unnamed major-label executive who claimed playlist adds were being sold for "$2,000 for a playlist with tens of thousands of fans to $10,000 for the more well-followed playlists." Spotify responded by updating its terms of service to explicitly prohibit "selling a user account or playlist, or otherwise accepting any compensation, financial or otherwise, to influence the name of an account or playlist or the content included on an account or playlist." But the practice of paying for placement, as with other forms of payola before it, hasn't died out. It's just been remixed.

In a matter of minutes and for a mere $2, you can pay to have your song considered by one of the 1,500 curators working on SpotLister, one of several new services that sells access to prominent Spotify users. The site was founded by two 21-year-old college students -- Danny Garcia, a guitar player at New York University, and a close friend who requested anonymity due to unrelated privacy concerns. They started a "private-for-hire" PR company in 2016 that offered "pitching services" to generate buzz on SoundCloud and, later, Spotify. The two would take on anywhere from 15 to 20 clients a month, each paying anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 to secure prominent placement on playlists.

Inside the Booming Black Market For Spotify Playlists

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  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @08:34AM (#56246255)

    If its a violation of the terms of service to do this stuff, then it should be fairly easy for Spotify to get SpotLister and these other services shut down (maybe make use of the overly broad overly vague CFAA to do it)

    • or Spotify should buy SpotLister.

      (See the vertical integration in radio markets nowadays).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      just like you can't buy facebook or instagram likes or twitter followers and retweets or amazon reviews..... if there's a way to scam, legal or not, people WILL FIND IT, and exploit it.

      • But getting a song on a playlist generates real listeners (unless the followers are fake), it's not some artificial BS for the most part. I just don't agree with demonizing third-party services helping out independent artists... especially when major labels have nearly complete control over the biggest playlists on Spotify. If Spotify shuts down those independent services, it'll be a loss for the democratization of music.
  • They replace many of their titles with sucky live versions.

  • I truly had no idea this was still a thing, but modernized for a different delivery method. People truly will find any possible way to make a buck.

    If it's in violation of the TOS, it should be easy for Spotify to knock out the big guys, at least in theory. Smaller or quieter operations though... Whack-a-mole? Needles in a haystack?

    • It depends on what you mean by "big guys". If you mean companies openly selling influence, sure - that's easy. If you mean the actual big guys in the record industry, then no - they won't be successful. Nothing will ever stop a rep from Sony quietly getting in touch with a popular playlist creator and working out an arrangement. Now that I think about it, I guess I prefer the company openly selling influence... :)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is some benefit to payola, as it generally promotes music that someone feels can be successful, even if its just a pop tune. Promoters generally only pay for their selected best. Popularity comes with some minimal level of acceptability (one could of course debate how low that level is), coupled with repeated exposure.

        • I mean, there's certainly no moral case against it (unless they lie about it). But I know for me, it would make the product less desirable - I'm not really interested in listening to advertisements - if I listen to a playlist, it's generally to introduce myself to music that comes from a source that shares my tastes. This is the same reason I tend to listen to WXPN (U of Penn radio) rather than commercial radio - it seems like every day I'm making a note of something I hear on that station.

          • The tricky part is that the "advertisements" could potentially be both: one part paid-for ad, and one part exactly the similar-source music you're looking for. Of course, it can also be one-part advertisement, and one-part canned, unrelated garbage, which is exactly what you're trying to avoid.

            I agree with the sentiment that there are benefits to payola, but with the very nature of it being a double-edged sword, I tend to agree with you that it's not worth it. I'd prefer my musical branches grow organically

      • I mean the "big guys" like this SpotLister group. "Big guys" playing the advertising game openly, and for a set price. The secret promoters, whether they're Sony shills or some hipster named Asher trying to get his girlfriend's Ani DiFranco cover band off the ground, they can never plug all the holes.

        I do see the irony of excluding the Sony rep from "the big guys," now that you bring it up.

  • It's impossible to overstate the value of Spotify playlists.

    One Trillion Dollars
    QED not impossible

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday March 12, 2018 @10:49AM (#56246773) Journal
    These playlists have a following because they have a reputation of creating good quality music selections. If they squander the goodwill by selling out to paid placements, so be it. Free market will take care of it.

    In the Radio spectrum is limited and licensed and it was the only free content delivery system for the masses. Since a few people got to be gate keepers, we needed rules to make sure they do not abuse the defacto monopoly status given to them by the government. On the internet, with unlimited opportunities for all players to pitch music, there is a dire need for someone to provide editorial services, find good music from obscure and unexpected sources, draw attention to it and develop a reputation of being a good play list creator. And people will pay for a good play list. It is no different from being an editor of a literary magazine.

    It is high time spotify recognizes it and makes it official. Let thousand playlists bloom, market will shake out those who sell out.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      These playlists have a following because they have a reputation of creating good quality music selections. If they squander the goodwill by selling out to paid placements, so be it. Free market will take care of it.

      It's tautological: The songs on these playlists must be good because the playlists are popular, and these playlists wouldn't be popular if the songs weren't good. So a lot of people will see those paid songs and assume they "have to" like them no matter if they really do or not. It happens all the time with art, music, movies, and video games. If people are told enough times that something is good they will talk themselves into believing it as well.

      • If they squander the goodwill by selling out to paid placements, so be it. Free market will take care of it.

        BS. Just listen to the radio, there's hardly a good song to be found...

        . If people are told enough times that something is good they will talk themselves into believing it as well.

        This. The truth is most people don't know what a good music is, as long as it's melodic-ish sounding and features attractive people marketed well (easily found) they will consume what you tell them too.

  • 17 posts so far. I'm the third to wonder Who Cares about a few lines of text listing tracks to play.

    1) Pink Floyd - Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    2) LED Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
    3) Queen - Another One Bites The Dust
    4) AC/DC - Highway to Hell

    Am I missing something? How much will I get paid for spending 30 seconds putting those in a row? Aren't there people on the youtubes that do this? Better than me, I'm sure.

    But not as sure as I currently am about some vague misnamed feature possibly involving some kind of,

    • Those are some really current innovative bands you listed there... lol
      Do you seriously not listen to any current music? I like the 'classics' too but really, that is all you listen to? If so this discussion is not relevant to you.

      A lot of people enjoy hearing new music by new bands, how do you find those new good groups? Based on the group you like, check out "Rival Sons - Pressure and Time", your welcome, please send my $5 when you can...
  • We won't even remember it. It'll be like Pets.com and Webvan.

  • If this had any value it is most likely gone. Now thousands of musicians will sign up for the service and try to get their songs listed on many irrelevant playlists. This might help If you happen to have some really great and very well recorded original songs that fits perfectly in a very high traffic genre. Most people don't.

    99.9% of the people that sign up will have real crappy songs that will not go anywhere. People will take your money and maybe even get them on some playlists but users will skip the so

    • If you read the article it describes how playlist owners don't have any obligation of adding tracks unless they like them. Seeing as that's the case, there is no extra incentive for addition to their playlists, unless they like a particular song. And I do believe that there are thousands of talented artists out there that simply do not get a shot at making it in the music industry because they have no resources to be able to get their music exposed to listeners. I don't think demonizing third-party services

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