Spotify to help fans edit, speed up songs and promises to pay artists

According to a new WSJ report, Spotify will add tools that allow fans to speed up, mash-up, and edit songs without prior permission.

Altered versions of songs are hugely popular on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and across social media and streaming platforms. Because the new versions vary from the original track, they are often difficult to detect. That means that the original writers and performers of the track go uncompensated for millions of altered streams.

Spotify plans to change that by providing fans with song-altering tools within its main app where the streamer can control and track use. Artists could also potentially use the tools to create, release, and monetize their own altered tracks.

It is unclear whether artists can opt out of allowing their songs to be altered by Spotify’s tools.

From the WSJ:

The audio streaming company is developing tools that would allow subscribers to speed up, mash up and otherwise edit songs from their favorite artists, according to people familiar with the discussions

“Fans – particularly people in their teens and 20 – regularly manipulate songs for social media, adding their own flair and then splicing the catchiest snippets into viral dance challenges, tutorials and memes. But artists and labels don’t often get paid for those altered versions of their songs, which are hard to track and are often distributed on a range of platforms including TikTok and Instagram Reels.”

Will Spotify’s plans mean that Artists get paid for altered songs?

Spotify’s planned song editing toolkit comes with some serious limitations that will limit its impact on other platforms and perhaps even on Spotify itself.

  1. Only Premium subscribers will be able to use the new tools, which means that about 60% of Spotify’s more than 600 million monthly active users will not have access.
  2. Sources tell the WSJ that the tools may only be part of a future, more expensive Premium tier, which would limit access even further.
  3. Tracks altered using Spotify’s tools will only be playable on Spotify, meaning they will not affect altered plays on other platforms like TikTok.

So, Spotify’s reported in-house plans for altered tracks are only the start of what needs to be done to protect artists, albeit a positive one.

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

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