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Spotify Showcase: A Costly Gamble for Independent Artists

Spotify has a new feature for artists, called Showcase. This tool appears on users’ home pages or screens as a “You Might Like” banner when you advertise with it. It’s not just for new music; you can use it to promote your existing releases and provide context for new ones.

Showcase aims to promote music you’ve already released. For instance, before a new EP release, you can use it to make listeners aware of your current releases and build excitement for the upcoming ones. It also helps maintain interest in a recent release that has left new music playlists.

Spotify's Showcase: A Costly Gamble for Independent Artists

This feature is part of a broader suite of artist tools, including Marquee, a full-screen ad for new releases aimed at past listeners, and Discovery Mode, enabling artists to prioritize specific songs in Spotify’s algorithms. Spotify has also added tools for selling concert tickets and merchandise.

Showcase is currently available in the US and will expand to more markets soon.

In my opinion, Showcase may not be suitable for artists on a tight budget. It primarily caters to artists with significant resources, likely managed by labels. It operates on a cost-per-click basis, so you pay for results. Plus, it won’t display ads to users who’ve recently streamed the release. With prices starting at $0.40 per click, you’d need to impress many users to recoup your investment.

Although Spotify doesn’t disclose per-stream payment rates, sources suggest it’s between $0.004 and $0.008 per stream. This benefits artists with extensive catalogs, concert tickets, and merchandise, i.e., those already successful.

Despite claims of “surfacing the right music to the right fans at the right time,” it’s essentially paid advertising. This raises concerns for artists with limited budgets. Spotify’s motivation to feature music without payment is questionable. We’ve seen platforms like Facebook and Instagram limit the reach of unpaid posts due to ad-driven priorities.

I’m not implying Spotify follows the same path, but it raises questions about where low-budget and no-budget artists fit in. Spotify suggests paid advertising is the best way for users to discover music, potentially sidelining artists who can’t afford it. What’s Spotify’s incentive to showcase music when it profits from getting you to advertise it?

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