Dear Spotify,

You are awesome. Millions of people enjoy listening to music on your platform, including yours truly. From gymming, to working behind the computer, to dinner parties, to late night unwinding… But what does it say when we have to endure not just ads, but a) inappropriate ads, b) offensive promotions for music that we simply do not like, c) irritating repetition of the same ad over and over again?

It was at the 57839th time of listening to the same annoying ad promoting “the greatest hits in Netherlands” that I realised I have had enough. I am in disbelief that these songs which you termed as “hits” are so bad in quality and in taste. They are not music, they are trash to a music lover such as myself.

I for one, welcome the promotion of new artists and albums, but this sloppy targeting of what feels like a one ad for all just shows you do not care enough. These “hits” are what my neighbour’s children blast in their garden every Sunday (which again, makes me cringe at their bad taste). How does it apply to me? Through which song in my playlist does it trigger your algorithm to continuously drill this particular ad into my head?

I went from trying to tolerate the promos, to eventually, after months of the same torment and frustration, wanting to pull my hair out each time Spotify interrupts my listening with rubbish like that.

When I searched online to see what other Spotify users have to say or do to deal with this, I chanced upon so many complaints! This problem is real, and the emotions bubbling from each comment online is raw and real. It’s stupefying. Users have expressed their irritation at listening to irrelevant ads, the pain in their ears when loud ads rudely startle them, and of course, having to put up with country specific music based on their IP addresses instead of their personal preferences.

Here are some very entertaining reads from one site I chanced upon during the research:

Ok, so I am English but live in Portugal, currently using Spotify free.

Spotify seems to think that because I live in Portugal I want playlist recommendations, albums, discover etc of the Portuguese market.

I don’t.  I want English recommendations,as do the millions of other English users that live in countries outside their home country.

 

I’m in a similar situation here. I live in Uruguay, and most of my recommendations are latin artists. I HATE LATIN MUSIC. I never listen any of them, but they keep showing up everywhere. I need to have a way to specify what I like and what I don’t, that’s not necessarily based on my location.

 

Yep. Same here. I had international playlists before I started my subscription and had to specify my country of residence. Now I get mainly Spanish pop, which makes me want to drink oven cleaner. I understand rights restrictions. However, I’ve found no limitations on the music I can search for. Now that I’m paying for Spotify I would really like my browse section to show the sort of playlists I had when I was using it for free. Please fix.

 

I’m sure Spotify, you are aware of this issue. Yet your solution is to ask users to vote for some sort of ad filter to be instated (how is that coming along?). Or requiring users to pay for the ads to be removed on your premium platform.

I’m sure any reasonable person would agree that we don’t mind ads if it’s relevant. To pay to remove a nuisance instead of paying for quality or other forms of services that can add to our experience are two different things, reflecting on very different operating values and says alot about the company.

This is an opportunity for you to carve a story of empathy, and seek to improve your relationship with the users. Instead of “blackmailing” users to pay for an ad-less Spotify premium, why not shift away from the money-making mechanism of mass targeting using low quality, garbage ads? Improve the user experience by stepping into their shoes. Even if you are still convinced about hurling ads at non-paying users, then at least give us a chance to filter the ads or give feedback on the ad quality so we can listen to ads that might mean something to us.

I agree with your mission statement:

Our mission is to unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.

And I also love how passionate the letter Daniel Ek (co-founder of Spotify) wrote to investors was:

… With access to unprecedented amounts of data and insights, we’re building audiences for every kind of artist at every level of fame and exposing fans to a universe of songs. In this new world, music has no borders. Spotify enables someone in Miami to discover sounds from Madrid. It links immigrants in Boston to songs back home in Bangkok…. In the future, Spotify will strive to more meaningfully connect people to the cultural experiences they care about-or don’t yet know they care about-to fit the mood and moment they’re in.

Indeed music should be borderless. And music should be enjoyed. But that’s not how I am feeling right now, based on the unpleasant experience I have been having.

A Spaniard might enjoy Chinese songs while a Canadian might like exploring Latin pop. Being limited by IP address or country locations is counter-intuitive to discovering new music and expanding musical horizons.

I am for making meaning connections, and I applaud what you have done so far. I am keen to see how this ad / unsavoury music promo problem will be resolved in accordance to the values you boldly claim to the public. Furthermore, I look forward to seeing how new changes will unfold. I pray you do not let us down.

 

 

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