Late last year, Spotify unveiled its controversial ‘Discovery Mode’ tool, which enables artists to benefit from additional algorithmic plays on the platform… in return for accepting a lower royalty rate for the streams in question.
Not everyone is in love with this idea – especially, it seems, indie labels.
In March, while not specifically naming SPOT’s new feature, European Indie label body IMPALA called for an end to music streaming “payola”, slamming digital tools that offer rights-holders reduced royalties for “privileged treatment in algorithms or other features”.
US indie label body A2IM meanwhile, has stated that Discovery Mode “brings into question the credibility of Spotify’s recommendation engine”. And last month, the US-based Artists Rights Alliance straight up compared Discovery Mode to Payola.
Discovery Mode has even attracted the concern of the US House Judiciary Committee, which has asked Daniel Ek what “safeguards” Spotify is putting in place to ensure the tool doesn’t lead to “a race to the bottom where the only practical way to get recommended is to accept a reduced royalty”.
Now, two major players in the DIY/independent artist sector have given their verdict on Discovery Mode… and, in contrast, it’s a ringing endorsement from both quarters.
DIY distribution platform TuneCore and its Paris-based parent Believe today confirmed that they’ve partnered with Spotify to test Discovery Mode over the past six months with a number of artists.
Believe is so keen on the tool, it’s now even investing in “building a dedicated data and digital marketing intelligence platform” in order to select artists and tracks that have the most potential for succeeding in Discovery Mode.
Its keenness might have something to do with this fact: New Spotify data revealed today shows that “artists with tracks in Discovery Mode have found over 40% more listeners on average – compared to pre-Discovery Mode” and that “44% of those [new] listeners had never listened to the artist before”.
A case study shared via Spotify for Artists portrays the experience of Natalie Perez – an indie artist signed to Believe – working with Discovery Mode.
Believe says that in December it “turned on” Discovery Mode for 33 tracks by Perez, who has more than 600,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. It then ran this campaign for a period of three months.
Of those 33 tracks, 14 performed “exceedingly well”, says Spotify, with Perez growing her daily Spotify listening base in the US and Mexico by 57%.
“Believe supports Spotify’s Discovery Mode, as it is highly innovative and beneficial for independent artists.
Denis Ladegaillerie, Believe
Commenting on the results from these tests today (June 30), Denis Ladegaillerie, founder and CEO of Believe, said: “In the digital world, artist development is digital and recommendation algorithms are the new marketing. Believe supports Spotify’s Discovery Mode, as it is highly innovative and beneficial for independent artists.
“The program’s democratizing power will enable a wider community of artists to benefit from promoting their music. And, in these early tests, we’re already witnessing how the program can help talented Believe and TuneCore artists from all over the world gain significant exposure to new listeners.”
Philip Kaplan is founder and CEO of DIY distribution platform DistroKid, which distributes over a million tracks every month to Spotify and other services.
Distrokid, which counts Spotify as a minority shareholder, has itself been testing Discovery Mode in recent months…and has also heaped praise on Spotify’s new tool.
“Discovery Mode is a groundbreaking music marketing tool because it doesn’t require any upfront budget.”
Philip Kaplan, DistroKid
“Discovery Mode is a groundbreaking music marketing tool because it doesn’t require any upfront budget,” writes Kaplan in a testimonial published on Spotify for Artists’ landing page.
“Discovery Mode makes it possible for independent artists at every level to reach new fans in a whole new way.”
“Discovery Mode maximizes the reach of the music, based on the merit of the music – not because a gatekeeper said so.”
Andreea Gleeson, TuneCore
Andreea Gleeson, Co-head and Chief Revenue Officer of TuneCore added: “At TuneCore, we believe there’s never been a better time for independent artists worldwide.
“We’re seeing a paradigm shift where an artist’s success is no longer tied to radio or traditional mainstream media.
“Discovery Mode maximizes the reach of the music, based on the merit of the music – not because a gatekeeper said so. If the music’s good, Discovery Mode will help artists find new fans.”
“The early results are really exciting: our data shows that Discovery Mode provides an average of 1.5 times the streaming uplift for artists with less than one million monthly listeners, than for those with more than one million.”
Charlie Hellman, Spotify
Other pro-Discovery Mode testimonials to emerge today include that from DistroKid artist Ryan Oakes. He writes that “as an independent artist, knowing where to put your money to market your music is hard. So is coming up with enough funding”.
Adds Oakes: “Spotify fixes this issue with this new feature. It helps me reach highly targeted people and turn them into lifelong fans. The results speak for themselves and I would highly recommend it to anyone searching for creative ways to reach new fans without a big record label budget.”
Charlie Hellman, Vice President, Head of Marketplace, Spotify, commented: “At Spotify, we’re building tools and resources that are accessible to, and can benefit, artists at any stage of their career, from anywhere in the world.
“Believe and TuneCore are home to such a diverse array of artists and have been invaluable partners as we’ve developed Discovery Mode as a tool that can serve not only established artists but also developing artists.
“The early results are really exciting: our data shows that Discovery Mode provides an average of 1.5 times the streaming uplift for artists with less than one million monthly listeners, than for those with more than one million.”Music Business Worldwide