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NONE DARE CALL IT "SPOT-OLA"

Spotify is testing a “Sponsored Song” ad for labels to promote singles on the free tier, according to a TechCrunch report.

Labels can pay to have Sponsored Songs appear on playlists and can be targeted to users with listening tastes similar to the sponsored track.

TechCrunch reports that a Spotify spokesperson said that if Sponsored Songs is deemed successful, it would roll out officially, but only on the free tier. Users would be able to click the opt-out button found under Sponsored Content in the Spotify settings menu.

As the article points out, sponsored content would supplement ad dollars on the free tier. The key for Spotify, obviously, is to strike a balance between money-generating operations and music that keeps the listener returning rather than opting for another service. A step in that direction last year, for example, saw Spotify allowing advertisements on playlists.

Mark Mulligan, managing director of MIDiA Research, told BBC News, "In a broader context, this may presage a wider strategy similar to that of Facebook's, whereby it effectively starts charging artists and labels for access to fans."

TechCrunch suggests that Spotify has the whiff of payola but if the songs are clearly marked as sponsored and the transaction is transparent, the average user should be able to understand the difference. Spotify’s challenge is to get the sponsored songs close to an “if you like…” recommendation.

Meanwhile, an MIT physics lab has started researching how to transmit bumpski via instant messenger.

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