Music streaming giant Spotify is routinely accused of shortchanging singers and songwriters on royalties. I’ve been giving them the benefit of the doubt for some years now. After an experience I had yesterday, however, it appears they’re even sleazier than I thought.
A year or so ago, a particular singer contacted me to ask me to review their upcoming CD, but then they never sent a copy. When I inquired later, I was told they only wanted one review written. I later saw the review on a “happy/happy, joy/joy” website, the type that never hears the slightest flaw in any music they “review.”
Fair enough, but it was shortly after that when I decided to begin writing reviews based on Spotify streams in instances where a well-known artist opted not to provide a CD. After all, streaming is how more and more fans are consuming music. It’s the future. Of course, I don’t go looking for independent artists to embarrass them. I just review releases by major groups and/or soloists.
Yesterday, I was preparing a review of the new album by Josh Turner. Because I use the free version of Spotify, the stream was occasionally interrupted by 2-3 advertisements which is perfectly fine with me. That’s the trade-off between the free version and paying for the premium version.
It was during one of those ad breaks I was halfway ignoring that something hit my ear, causing me to pause and say, “Wait a minute. Did they really just say that?” I thought I heard the F-word used in an ad, but I wasn’t 100% sure. After 3-4 more songs by Josh Turner, the same ad played again, and this time there was no doubt.
Surely this was just an error, right? I would think those sort of ads would be limited to air only when someone was listening to content labeled as containing explicit language.
So, I contacted Spotify to let them know what happened. This was their reply:
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
We’re sorry to hear that you were offended or made to feel uncomfortable by this commercial. That certainly was not our intention.The commercial is targeted to users using the date of birth given at registration and should never be played on user accounts below an appropriate age.
We appreciate your feedback and will pass your comments along to our Ads team.
If we can help with anything else, please don’t hesitate to get back in touch with us.
Are you kidding me? Because I’m over the age threshold, I should hear any sort of vulgar word imaginable even while listening to a gospel recording on the Gaither label?
I exchanged a couple more emails until it became evident Spotify sees no reason to change their procedures to ensure this sort of thing doesn’t become commonplace. And yes, I already have “tailored ads” turned on. The ads ought to be consistent with the music I’m hearing, but it still happened anyway. The best suggestion they could offer was that I become a paying customer on their premium service, so I wouldn’t hear ads of any kind any more.
I have a better option.
I won’t use Spotify any more. Furthermore, all songs I have recorded that are currently available on Spotify will be pulled off of the service as soon as possible. I don’t want my music to be heard on an outlet that might follow it immediately with trashy language like that.