“Why is the obscure b-side ‘Harness Your Hopes’ Pavement’s top song on Spotify? It’s complicated,” runs the headline of a Stereogum article published this week. But the piece does a good job of laying out the likely reasons.
To cut a long story short, the track’s rise to prominence on Spotify seems to have started in 2017, which is significant because that’s the year Spotify turned its ‘autoplay’ feature – which continues playing similar songs when someone finishes an album or playlist – on by default for all users. ‘Harness Your Hopes’ wouldn’t be the first deep cut from an artist’s back catalogue to enjoy a resulting spike either: Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 investigated exactly this in 2018 with that band’s track ‘Strange’, and with the help of Spotify’s data alchemist Glenn McDonald, pinpointed the autoplay switch-on as the likely spur.
For Pavement, ‘Harness Your Hopes’ has now also become one of the band’s biggest tracks on Apple Music and YouTube (“It’s even been having a moment on TikTok lately,” noted Stereogum).
All this is just another reason why Spotify’s new ‘Discovery Mode’ test, which will enable artists and labels to bump tracks up in the autoplay (and radio) algorithm in return for a lower royalty rate, has wide implications. And not just for Pavement.