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Spotify change playlist rules after clash with UK indie band

30-second long songs will now be considered for official playlists after protest by The Pocket Gods

By Joe Goggins

The Spotify app on the iPhone
The Spotify app on the iPhone

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.