We’ve been here before with the issue of ‘playola’ – the notion that artists can pay to have their tracks added to popular playlists on Spotify run by curators *outside* the company.
Back in 2015 this was being talked about as a potentially-worrying marketing tactic, before trailing off under the realisation that pretty much all the truly influential playlists on Spotify were programmed in-house (and thus not taking money for placement).
Now tech site Daily Dot has been examining startups like SpotLister, which ‘sells access to prominent Spotify users’ for labels and marketing firms willing to pay the price.
“We started out paying $5 [for a playlist add] and that worked in the beginning,” its co-founder Danny Garcia told the site. “When more people started getting into the game, you saw the prices starting to rise, and then the playlisters started seeing that they were relevant and worth a lot more. There are some playlists that have 90,000 followers that can charge $100-$200 for an add, all the way up to playlists with 500,000 who can charge $2,000 for one placement.”
The flaw in all this: a key part of SpotLister’s service relies on access to Spotify’s API (to analyse songs’ musical characteristics and thus decide which playlisters they’re most suitable for). If Spotify decides to crack down on playola – which it seems minded to do – that API access could be whisked away.