If Spotify thought it had seen off interest from US politicians in its ‘Discovery Mode’ feature… well, it can think again. Three members of Congress have sent CEO Daniel Ek a letter (seen by Variety) with some pointed questions about the feature, which enables artists and labels to choose tracks for promotion in Spotify’s Autoplay and Radio modes in return for a lower royalty rate.
The politicians want more transparency. “We would ask that Spotify publish, on a monthly basis, the name of every track enrolled in the program and the royalty discount agreed upon,” wrote Reps Yvette D. Clarke, Judy Chu and Tony Cardenas. “Without this transparency, you are asking artists to make a blind choice, and it represents a classic prisoner’s dilemma.”
They also want Spotify to label tracks promoted using Discovery Mode as paid content. “The Discovery Mode program seems identical to deceptive native advertising like undisclosed promotional tweets from paid social media influencers or inadequately described sponsored search results.”
It’s the second time members of Congress have taken a critical interest in the feature, following scrutiny from Reps Jerry Nadler and Hank Johnson Jr in June 2021, and Spotify’s response to their questions.