Spotify confirmed to TechCrunch on Monday that it’s started testing sponsored songs, explaining that it’s showing them only to users of its free tier. However, it seems that some of Spotify’s paying subscribers are also seeing tracks chosen and paid for by music labels at the top of their display.
Apparently disgruntled at having sponsored content pushed his way, Spotify subscriber Liam Maloney dived into his Settings to discover that he had to toggle a new “sponsored song” button to get rid of the unwanted content, indicating it’s opt-out rather than opt-in. We’ve reached out to Spotify for clarification on whether paying subscribers are supposed to be seeing sponsored songs and will update when we hear back.
Below you can see an example of a sponsored song, with Call Me by Neiked positioned at the top of a playlist along with a “save song” button.
As you can see, there’s no visual note informing users that the song is sponsored, though a verbal announcement is made just before the track starts playing.
If Spotify decides to make sponsored songs a permanent part of its service, it’ll give music labels another way to push their artists, which could ultimately lead to an increase in sales of concert tickets and artist merchandise. For Spotify, sponsored songs offers another revenue stream via its free tier as the company continues with preparations to go public, possibly later this year.
While Spotify’s money-making efforts have long included banner ads as part of its free service, last year it also started letting brands sponsor its more popular playlists by allowing them to include logos and videos. Sponsored playlists try to blend content and context, so, for example, Spotify’s “Cardio” playlist that offers “upbeat songs to keep you motivated while doing your cardio” could be “perfect for a footwear brand expanding from lifestyle shoes to workout sneakers,” the company suggested.
If you’re seeing sponsored songs but would rather not, you can disable the function on desktop by hitting Settings and scrolling down to Display Options and toggling the Show Sponsored Songs button. On mobile, go to Sponsored Content in Settings and you’ll see the same option there.