Potential Unethical Issues about Spotify’s Discover Draw Congress’ Attention

Although Spotify offers perfect streaming services for music consumers, it’s a risky platform for artists seeking financial success in the music industry. Spotify charges fees to artists who want their songs streamed frequently, which denotes the AI running the most popular selections also takes into account the monetary conditions and not necessarily the most popular songs requested or selected by music consumers. As a result, Spotify’s business practices as a music streaming business has drawn the attention of some Congressional members.

No less than the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler has sent a letter to Spotify, asking the media service provider to give enlightenment to its “Discover” as it seemingly reduces genuine interest and attention in exchange for monetary considerations.

Obviously, its an unfair practice similar to the method used by radio stations that gained lucrative sponsorship deals from record companies by frequently playing and promoting the records of their artists over the airwaves. Called the “payola” system, it was a discreet agreement that became a large-scale scandal, which brought down the careers of many disc jockeys.

Since it became the subject of hearings, the music industry took action to stop the practice. After all, exposure is critical if an artist wants to make it big in the industry, even today where radio stations have been replaced by streaming service providers like Spotify.

Is Spotify’s Latest Feature a Modified Version of the “Payola” System

Spotify’s Discovery program was initially launched late 2020, giving the chance for labels and artists to revamp their soundtrack’s rankings in the platform’s algorithms. However, a small portion of the fees collected are paid as royalties to artists as monetization of the increasing attention from users of .Spotify’s Discovery playlists.

In Spotify’s defense, this feature simply gives a prospect for artists on whether they want to make money with their music or have a large audience to hear their songs. Nadler and his colleague however, asked a sensible question, on how far does the Discovery mode spurs artists would go to pay money in order to gain an edge against competitors.

The letter was addressed and sent this week to Spotify founder, Daniel Ek who was given has given him until June 16 to answer Nadler and his committee’s questions. Particularly about how the success of the program will be measured, and the royalty rates that apply, What alternatives are available to artist in the event that the royalties they receive are less than the amount the pay as fee.

However, since Spotify is a Swedish company, Rep. Nadler’s missive could be ignored but may also be taken as a warning that members of the U.S. Congress are still actively analyzing how the Internet affects every industry.