Spotify users have noticed a new opt-out setting appearing both on desktop and in-app: Sponsored Songs. Sponsored content in general is not new for Spotify — last year they allowed their most popular playlists to be sponsored by brands — but allowing labels to promote individual songs certainly is. A representative from Spotify confirms to The Verge that Sponsored Songs is a test program that will only appear to users on the free tier.
Sponsored Songs don’t appear as banners like the platform’s existing ads, but are integrated into playlists you follow. In the example below from Liam Maloney, the sponsored song — “Call Me” by NEIKED — is featured above the playlist. The songs are chosen to match a user’s existing music tastes, are instantly playable, and are savable without a prerequisite ad click.
“Show sponsored songs” is an auto-enabled setting which Spotify seems to only be testing with some users. If the toggle is available on your account, you’ll have to turn off under Settings > Display Options on desktop and Settings > Sponsored Content on mobile if you don’t want the songs to appear. The toggle will show for both premium and free users, but the actual sponsored song test is only appearing on the free tier.
Spotify continues to seek additional revenue streams as it pushes to go public this year and avoid penalty fees from the $1 billion debt round it raised last year. Although they recently announced 140 million active users, the company posted an operating loss of $389 million in 2016.