×

What Is Spotify Thinking With its ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Paying’ Ad Campaign?

To promote a free 30-day promotion on its premium platform, Spotify recently launched an ad campaign featuring a hipster euphorically dancing next to the slogan “Dance like nobody’s paying.”

The campaign comes after longstanding complaints about the company’s royalty payments, not to mention its attempts to appeal the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to increase songwriter rates by 44% over the next five years and its recent determination that it had overpaid music publishers by an undisclosed amount in 2018 and is requesting a refund. Predictably, songwriters and music industry pros aren’t happy about the new campaign, which seems to add insult to injury after the above incidents.

“Nobody’s paying?,” musician and activist Blake Morgan asked over Twitter. “We musicians are, with our lives.” Executive Vice President of ECR Music Group Amy Gardner also expressed anger over the ad on the social media platform.

Reps for Spotify did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.

On its face, the campaign appears to be a careless, if callous, mistake, but what if it’s actually working exactly in the way the Swedish-based music streaming giant intended? Save for this recent campaign, Spotify has built a steadfast reputation for creating some of the most compelling ad content in the music industry. In 2017, Adweek praised the company for converting its user’s listening data into emotionally compelling ads. It’s safe to ask if a company as intelligent, resourced, and influential as Spotify knew exactly what they were getting themselves into by creating an ad like this.

Not surprisingly, at the core of many complaints is how it shamelessly the campaign presents music as a free commodity. After Spotify’s free trial period ends, users pay just $10 a month for uninhibited access to as much music as they can listen to, which roughly translates to the cost of a Chipotle burrito and the spare change floating around my car at any given moment. The music industry has long complained about how little Spotify compensates artists, but they’re hardly the worst offender. At $0.00069 per-view, an artist would need to rack up a staggering 2,133,333 monthly plays on YouTube to earn the US’s monthly minimum wage of $1,472. Through Spotify, it takes an average of 336,842 streams to generate that amount.

Similar to the way many people bite into a cheeseburger with no consideration for the cow and farm of its origin, campaigns like Spotify’s widens the growing divide between listeners and creators. Audiences intellectually understand that music doesn’t magically materialize out of nothingness for the exclusive purpose of entertaining them, but as music continues its irreversible transition to all things digital, listeners are becoming less aware and interested in how artists create, record, produce, and share music. With a 2017 Nielsen Music report showing that, on average, Americans now spend over 32 hours a week listening to music, it’s clear that music is hugely important in the lives of listeners — just not in ways that provide meaningful visibility and support to musicians.

Spotify’s newest ad campaign and the general philosophy adopted by most other major music streaming platforms communicates the message to audiences that they can have it all: Guilt-free, uninhibited access to unfathomably vast amounts of music for little or no cost. Musicians are pushed far into the background of this offer.

Spotify’s recent ad campaign has angered many, but between the flood of new music being shared over the platform and its status as the world’s leading paid subscription service, the company has little incentive to change the tune of its messaging anytime soon.

 

More Digital

  • Netflix in Nigeria

    Netflix's Head of African Originals Lays Out Streamer's Plans for the Continent (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and a team of high-level executives have spent the week crisscrossing the African continent, wooing local creators and touting plans to thrust the continent center-stage as the streaming giant’s first African original series, “Queen Sono,” drops worldwide on Friday. Sarandos took the mic at a splashy event in Lagos [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Everything Coming to Netflix in March

    Netflix is adding a robust line-up of popular programs to its slate in March. In addition to rom-coms like Matthew Mcconaughey’s “Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Always a Bridesmaid,” the streamer is also adding a few classics like “Goodfellas” and “The Shawshank Redemption” starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. [...]

  • Illustration of the video streaming company

    Coronavirus Spread Benefits Netflix, Other 'Stay-at-Home' Companies, Analysts Say

    Amid fears over a global economic slowdown from the widening coronavirus outbreak, companies like Netflix that provide in-home services are best positioned to withstand the storm or even see upside from the crisis, according to industry analysts. Netflix “is an obvious beneficiary if consumers stay home due to coronavirus (COVID-19 virus) concerns, and this has [...]

  • YouTube TV

    YouTube TV Is Dropping Fox Regional Sports Nets, YES Network After Sinclair Standoff

    YouTube TV, Google’s internet pay-TV service, said it will drop the Fox regional sports networks and the YES Network from customer lineups this Saturday, Feb. 29 — citing an impasse in negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns the RSNs. “We purchase rights from Sinclair to distribute content to you,” the YouTube TV account said [...]

  • Facebook F8 Conference 2019 - Mark

    Facebook Cancels F8 Developers Conference Over Coronavirus Fears

    The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has prompted Facebook to cancel this year’s F8 developers conference. The F8 2020 was scheduled for May 5-6 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif. The social giant had held the conference every year since 2007, and last year’s F8 drew more than 5,000 attendees, according to the company. [...]

  • Rachel Whitney Joins Spotify as Nashville

    Rachel Whitney Joins Spotify as Nashville Head of Editorial

    Rachel Whitney, formerly of YouTube, is joining Spotify as the Head of Editorial for Nashville, she announced in a social media post (which recently has become a method of the streaming giant announcing new employees).  A source close to the situation points out that the company now has two female executives at the helm of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content