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Spotify will consider super short songs for playlisting after super short song protest

By | Published on Tuesday 1 March 2022


Spotify has reportedly confirmed that it will allow super short songs to be formally pitched for inclusion on its official playlists. This follows a recent release from the band The Pocket Gods called ‘1000X30 – Nobody Makes Money Anymore’, which mainly features tracks that are just over 30 seconds long.

That album was designed as a protest over the royalty rates paid by the streaming services which, of course, continue to be controversial in parts of the music community. Streaming is a revenue share business, so there aren’t usually any fixed per-stream rates that services pay when music is streamed. However, you can calculate an average per-stream pay out in any one month, which is usually fractions of a penny.

There are, of course, a huge number of streams overall, so that the total monies generated by streaming for the music industry at large is significant. However, for individual artists, streaming only really becomes a decent revenue stream once you’re scoring millions of streams.

In addition to being a protest over the streaming business model and the per-stream average pay outs in general, The Pocket Gods’ album also focused on another aspect of the way streaming works that has been criticised. Which is that a play is counted once a track has been listened to for 30 seconds. This system, of course, discriminates against those artists and genres that tend to make tracks much longer than the classic three minute pop song.

Speaking to i News about the album, the band’s Mark Christopher Lee recalled how he learned about plays being counted at 30 seconds on the streaming platforms in a newspaper article a few years back. “I saw the article and it made me think, ‘Why write longer songs when we get paid little enough for just 30 seconds’. We wrote and recorded 1000 songs, each a shade over 30 seconds long for the album. The longest is 36 seconds. It is designed to raise awareness about the campaign for fair royalty rates”.

After the album was released – and with a flurry of media coverage accompanying it – Spotify apparently contacted Lee to discuss his concerns and criticisms. At that meeting he was seemingly told that – as Spotify subscriptions slowly increase – artist and songwriter pay outs will increase too, which is true. Although, as the planned price hikes only really keep subscription fees in line with inflation, the impact for artists and songwriters will likely be nominal.

However, he says, Spotify has made one concession, albeit less to do with the wider business model, and more to do with championing super short tracks of the kind that feature on ‘1000X30 – Nobody Makes Money Anymore’. “Spotify said we’re ahead of the curve as shorter songs are the future – just look at TikTok”, he told i News.

“They said that I can pitch 30 second tracks to their playlists for consideration – I wasn’t able to do this previously as the songs were considered too short. So next week I’m releasing a 30 second single called ‘Noel Gallagher Is Jealous Of My Studio’”.