(Getty/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Spotify wants its users to do free labor for them

Spotify's new "Line-In" tool will ask users to make edits to tags, genre, mood and explicitness


Charlie May
March 13, 2018 9:00PM (UTC)

Spotify wants its users to work to help improve its product — but if you're one of their roughly 160 million users, don't expect to receive any compensation.

The music streaming platform has introduced a new crowdsourcing tool that encourages its users to suggest edits and additions to music data it collects and stores.

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The new tool, "Line-In," was announced on Monday, and would allow Spotify "to better understand how Spotify listeners interpret music, so that we can improve experiences for both listeners and artists," a press release stated.

"Some of the data categories listeners are invited to make suggestions for include: explicitness, genre, aliases, languages, mood, tags, artist roles, and external URLs," the press release continued.

"Line-In" is currently only available for desktop Spotify users, but will continue to be modified and will receive additional features.

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Aside from encouraging users to correct faulty data, users can also confirm when Spotify's data already being used is correct, TechCrunch noted.

Yet Line-In has also drawn criticism as another example of how platforms exploit small amounts of their users' labor without compensation. Spotify has also had a slew of problems in regards to music data collection in its recent past. Notably, curation was already something done for free by users.

Quartz elaborated on the critique:

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It’s a small stroke of genius. Spotify’s users, whether part of the 71 million people on the subscription tier or the other 88 million listening for free, have a vested interest in making sure the data on the platform are accurate and up-to-date, because that makes their listening experience smoother. The company, in return, gets free, crowdsourced labor and the opportunity to draw its customers deeper into its community.

[...]

Incomplete or faulty metadata has been a problem plaguing Spotify for years; US courts are currently adjudicating a $1.6 billion lawsuit filed by a major music publisher for, in part, copyright infringement due to poor data organization. While users cannot edit the rights-related data of songs, they can help sort out the mess on the front end.

The announcement of the new "Line-In" tool also arrives just as Spotify is set to become a publicly traded company in just a few weeks, on April 2.

The move by Spotify represents a larger, discouraging trend among many online platforms, whereby users play the role of contributors but remain the minority beneficiaries — and as a result, their work is exploited. Spotify joins the ranks of Facebook and Twitter as sites that profit off the labor of their millions of users — a situation that recently prompted some Twitter users to attempt to convert the company to a user-owned co-operative.

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Charlie May

MORE FROM Charlie MayFOLLOW @charliejmay



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