Spotify now lets artists buy a full-screen ‘recommendation’ promoting their new album

Spotify recently added a feature that will occasionally pop up a full-screen recommendation of a new album the service thinks you’ll like, based on a combination of your listening taste and human curation. Now, it’s going to allow artists and their teams to pay to target their fans through this same feature, effectively turning the recommendation into a full-screen ad.

The company says this is currently a test and is only available in the U.S. for now.

These sponsored recommendations — which are effectively now ads, as they’re bought and paid for — will display to both Free and Premium subscribers. That means Premium subscribers will be seeing full-screen ads for the first time, even though those ads are tailored to their personal taste in music to be less disruptive to their overall enjoyment of the app.

Brand New Music for You

To head off any backlash about this fact, Spotify says Premium listeners will be able to turn off the recommendations feature, if they choose.

It’s not clear that users will think to do this, however.

After all, this was first introduced as just a helpful recommendation feature, not advertising. And because it’s still highly personalized — you’ll only hear from artists you frequently listen to or follow — many users may not realize the feature is now transactional in nature. Or even if they do, they may not care.

You have to hand it to Spotify: that’s actually pretty clever.

The unit itself does disclose that it’s “sponsored” in small print at the bottom. And if you click the “What’s this?” link, you’ll be taken to a screen that explains this is a new music update about an artist you listen to or follow. Users then have the option to turn off future updates from only that artist. Premium users can toggle off the feature entirely.

Spotify says early feedback about the feature has been positive, which is why it decided to move forward with its plans to offer this as a sponsored opportunity.

It’s also being careful not to overwhelm the app with pop-ups. However, there’s no set interval for these ads to appear. Instead, the company explains their frequency will depend on the listener and how often their favorite artists are releasing music.

Reached for comment, a Spotify spokesperson told TechCrunch these ads are priced on a cost-per-click basis, but declined to comment on the actual cost. For the time being, artists will need to go through their label or distributor for more information about the product, as it’s only offered to a select group of major and indie labels.

The new recommendations will start to appear for you the next time a favorite artist releases their next album, the company says.