Did Spotify Hack My Spotify Account?
Guest post by Joe Pomarico.
If anyone knows me, I’ve been following this subject for a while and was able to focus much my research for my Grad papers on Spotify, Record Labels, and resource dependency. It’s something I’m incredibly interested in, since streaming has become the future of the industry, off the backs popular music owned by record labels.
Well, I started paying for Spotify premium almost a year ago, and in the last couple months I’ve been noticing some weird stuff. Every now and then I’d be listening and all of a sudden it would start playing some random music, something I’ve completely never heard of or would even wanna listen to. I thought it was just someone at work messing with my account I had left logged in so I would just hit “sign out everywhere” to stop them.
Other times I would open up Spotify and it would say it’s already playing music from some playlist I didn’t add from a Firefox web browser. First of all, Firefox sucks! Secondly, where were all these playlists coming from and who were all the artists on there? Well recently Spotify included a feature to show track credits, so I investigated these tracks further on these playlists that were being streamed while I was asleep/away. I found that none of them were owned by major record labels or had any credits listed at all.
With all the controversy Spotify has been dealing with over paying out small royalties while allowing their executives to take big bonuses, it would be no surprise to me to find out if Spotify was in some way involved in the reason my account is streaming this music. (No this isn’t me trying to defend some of those embarrassing songs I’ve played when forgetting to switch to private listening.) This is a huge issue in the industry that I feel is going to really blow up very soon…Especially with Spotify filing for an IPO.
Over the past year, it’s been reported that Spotify has been involved in some other shady practices to lower some of their overhead to the majors who make up most of their catalog with pop hits drawing people to the service
*Please see references below for examples*
But, for what reason would someone hack my account to stream these random playlists with unknown tracks?
With an understanding of Spotify’s business model you can understand why there would be an incentive for this type of practice.
Spotify has made deals with the major record labels to license their tracks (which dominate the entire music market) to be used on the streaming service. The labels have agreed but can pull their catalogs at any time. This leaves Spotify with a dependency on the labels, something they likely do not wish to have. Since a majority of the music getting streamed on their platform is the Major’s tracks, most of the money they make from subscriptions and advertisements goes to pay the royalties for those tracks. They pay out based on the total of what they make, and since each play is logged, its easy to divi up the revenue based on a pooling system.
When I pay $10 a month ($5/student), everything I stream in that month is accounted for and the royalties are split up accordingly. If all I listen to are the same 5 bands over and over again, Spotify will have to pay out to the major labels more, at a rate that is probably much higher than the rate for independent tracks. By having my account stream more independent tracks, my $10 a month gets stretched and watered down so the overall pie contains less major label music. This way Spotify has to pay out less to the labels that they were so dependent on to start their business.
Now I am actually a huge fan of how Spotify has allowed the industry to flourish again, lifting up overall revenues after business models started shifting gears to maximize its potential. I like it a lot more than Apple Music for its free tier giving anyone a great introduction to the service, instead than forcing subscriptions down people’s iPhones.
Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on streaming as a whole, giving artists another revenue stream and extremely convenient means of promoting/sharing music. And more specifically how to feel about if they think Spotify is behind all of this.
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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too). Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band: 6th Edition. Reach him at PhilpD@wpunj.edu or find him on LinkedIn HERE.