What Is Spotify Discovery Mode?
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What Is Spotify Discovery Mode?

Zoe Kramer March 16, 2023

Discovery Mode has been Spotify’s way of promoting new and up and coming artists alongside established stars. For aspiring musicians and music fans alike, this feature has captured quite a bit of interest. After all, with Spotify being one of the biggest platforms for music in the age of streaming, promotion on the app can be a pretty big deal. But how exactly does this feature work? Here is a guide to what is Spotify Discovery Mode, how it works, and why it is a source of controversy.

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What Is Spotify Discovery Mode?

Discovery Mode was first introduced on the Spotify app back in 2020. The feature is a way for artists to have their work shared more widely without having to pay any up front fees. Instead, they have a promotional royalty rate for each stream the song receives. The idea is that artists will be able to gain more exposure, while audiences get to discover new music they enjoy that is similar to what they are already listening to.

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How Does Discovery Mode Work?

To qualify for Discovery Mode, a song must meet certain criteria. It must be distributed by a participating licensor, have been on Spotify for at least 30 days, and have been streamed in Radio or Autoplay in the last 7 days. When Discovery Mode is turned on, the selected track will be featured more often for listeners through the app’s algorithm. If a user was listening to an artist on Spotify’s radio feature, for example, they might hear a track from an artist in a similar genre pop up through this promotion. Then, based on how listeners are reacting, Spotify might choose to continue to promote the song to other users. The promoted tracks might also show up on a person’s Discover Weekly or other algorithmically generated playlists.

Why Is It Controversial?

Discovery Mode has also been the subject of criticism. Many have raised concerns that the scheme causes artists to be underpaid. Since the majority of artists want larger audiences in the already competitive streaming industry, they will feel pressure to opt in to the feature so their songs will perform well, at the expense of accepting fewer earnings. Musicians have spoken out about how the scheme causes artists to earn less than they would before. However, whether the feature will be continued long-term is not clear.

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Zoe Kramer is a full-time staff writer on Freshered. She graduated from Cardiff University in 2022 with a BA in Journalism, Media and English Literature. During her time in university, she worked for her student newspaper as well as completing an internship with a book publisher. She has also written and continues to write book and theatre reviews. She is excited to now be pursuing a career as a journalist and learning something new every day. In particular, she loves writing about student life, books, the Internet, and travel. Originally from the United States, she is enjoying living abroad in the UK.