After years of criticism, Spotify appears to be slowly attempting a PR rehabilitation for its whole “screw over pretty much every musical artist at its disposal and pay them peanuts” thing. Back in March, the music and podcast streaming giant released a “Loud and Clear” campaign that (somewhat) broke down how — and how much — the majority of its artists earn via streaming revenue. Today, Spotify is officially launching the Fresh Finds Program, a “mentorship,” education, and networking opportunity for artists cherry-picked from the company’s numerous Fresh Finds playlists.
“Over the span of six to eight weeks, artists in the program have access to one-on-one mentorship with members of Spotify and a personalized Masterclass to learn how to best use Spotify for Artists tools (like Canvas and Marquee),” reads Spotify’s announcement, noting that the program will also include meetings with songwriting and PR teams, and culminate with the release of an original Spotify Singles track. Four artists were announced for the first wave of Fresh Find Program awardees — Wallice, Julia Wolf, Ekkstacy, and Unusual Demont.
A sincere congrats to the four of them, and an insincere one to Spotify for finally taking steps to fix some of its problematic profiteering strategies.
Solidifying the Spotify industry stranglehold — Despite technically not turning a profit in sectors like podcasting until at least 2023, Spotify continues to expand its hegemonic influence on the audio streaming service industry. While some of the reported 20% increase in Premium subscriptions over the pandemic will surely wane, Spotify’s shadow will continue to loom large over musicians, both indie and established alike. PR campaigns like the new Fresh Finds Program allow Spotify to claim it fervently supports “up-and-coming” artists, while simultaneously cultivating its own stable of musician relationships to further profit from down the line.
Not always ahead of the curve — Don’t let the Fresh Finds Program fool you, though; Spotify is still behind the times in a lot of ways. Take its new virtual concerts series, unveiled just as public spaces begin to reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic, or its numerous, late-to-the-game projects like its upcoming Clubhouse rival, podcast subscription service, and auto-transcription services.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Spotify is going to dramatically restructure its payment systems for artists anytime soon, so your best option in the meantime is to simply pay musicians directly via album sales, merch, and concert tickets. Or buy their music on Bandcamp or similar platforms. Or, at the very least, try finding playlists that aren’t Spotify-curated.