Spotify have opened up their official playlists to shorter songs in response to a protest by UK indie band The Pocket Gods.
The streaming platform is notorious for its low payment rates to artists, with plays worth as little as £0.002, and the royalties only paid after the song has been listened to for at least 30 seconds.
In response to this, The Pocket Gods uploaded a record containing 1000 songs, all just over 30 seconds in length. The St Albans outfit’s frontman, Mark Christopher Lee, was inspired to do so after reading a 2015 article in the British newspaper i by music professor Mike Errico, entitled “How streaming is changing everything we know about making music.”
Speaking to i about his band’s new album, ‘1000×30 – Nobody Makes Money Anymore’, Lee said: “I saw the article and it made me think, ‘Why write longer songs when we get paid little enough for just 30 seconds?’ It’s a ‘work to rule’ to raise awareness on behalf of all the artists, musicians & songwriters.”
The 600,000 streams of the record to date was enough to prompt Spotify CEO Daniel Ek to reach out to Lee’s band, setting up a meeting with the firm’s head of artist relations. “Spotify said we’re ahead of the curve as shorter songs are the future – just look at TikTok.” Lee said of the meeting. “They said that I can pitch 30 second tracks to their playlists (drivers of chart hits) for consideration – I wasn’t able to do this previously as the songs were considered too short.”
Lee concluded: “So next week I’m releasing a 30-second single called ‘Noel Gallagher Is Jealous of My Studio’.” He also claimed that he was told that songwriters can expect to receive a higher payment when Spotify increase their subscription fees. A premium subscription currently costs £9.99 a month.
The affair marks the latest controversy for Spotify, which faced a huge backlash earlier this year over its $100 million deal with podcaster Joe Rogan, who has repeatedly used the platform to spread misinformation about COVID-19. Heavyweights of the music world including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are boycotting the platform, withholding their music from it, whilst Rogan’s podcast remains on it; a slew of offensive older episodes, in which Rogan used racial slurs, have been take down.