Congress Is Concerned About Spotify’s ‘Discovery Mode’ Feature

A new feature Spotify is testing out in a pilot program has caught Congress’ attention. Discovery Mode, which was first announced in the fall, lets artists and labels agree to take a lower royalty rate on certain tracks in exchange for higher priority in its algorithms.

Spotify’s Nov. 2 announcement described its personalized recommendations as “complicated,” and said it wanted to find a way to account for an artist’s priorities while also ensuring listeners are getting what they want. “In this new experiment, artists and labels can identify music that’s a priority for them, and our system will add that signal to the algorithm that determines personalized listening sessions,” it said about the program, which is being tested in Radio and Autoplay formats. “This allows our algorithms to account for what’s important to the artist — perhaps a song they’re particularly excited about, an album anniversary they’re celebrating, a viral cultural moment they’re experiencing, or other factors they care about.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Chairman Rep. Hank Johnson Jr. (D-GA) are concerned the program could lead to lower pay for artists and fewer choices for consumers. On Wednesday they sent a letter to Spotify Founder and CEO Daniel Ek requesting more information on the feature.