Spotify is Missing a Trick: UGC & the Gamification of Explicit Tracks

Expletive napkin imageI’m a big rock music fan, a daily Spotify user and a new dad… It’s an wild mix.

Before becoming a dad, it didn’t matter what I listened to around the house. But nowadays I have to be very careful what I listen to, especially as I listen to bands like Rocket From The Crypt and The Wildhearts, whose tracks (and even song titles!) contain swearwords. Spotify doesn’t censor music, but it does its best to tag offending tracks as “[EXPLICIT]”. However it’s certainly not foolproof: for example, “Get Down” by Rocket From The Crypt isn’t tagged as explicit yet it contains various swearwords; on the other hand, every track of Hidden World by Fucked Up has lazily been tagged as explicit (probably due to the band’s name), despite many of their songs not actually containing any expletives (example: “David Comes To Life”) – although admittedly I probably shouldn’t be listening to them in the presence of a 16-month-old anyway, so not the best example, heh…

It seems as though Spotify manage the process themselves – whether automated, semi-automated or entirely manually, I’m not sure. It seems likely that they would give precedence to more popular acts, so if Justin Bieber drops an f-bomb, it’s more likely to get tagged more quickly than an obsure hipster-friendly band you’ve probably never heard of. And there seems to be no way to report tracks as a user – whether by desktop…

Spotify example - desktop screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

Spotify example - mobile screenshot…or by mobile… (see right)

It doesn’t look possible to do it at an album or artist level, either. The functionality just doesn’t seem to be there at all.

But if you ask me, Spotify if missing a trick here. Why not give users the chance to report tracks as-and-when they listen to them in UGC (user generated content) style? So when I realise that the aforementioned “Get Down” contains the s-word and the f-word, I can tap/click it, report it as explicit, then someone at Spotify can check it and add the tag if I’m correct. They could keep it simple on a mobile, but the desktop version could ask for more info (e.g. roughly what time in the track the offending word appears). They could even semi-automate the process – they could cross-reference each track against lyrics websites and/or use transcription software to see if it can detect any swearwords, limiting the amount of time that some poor intern has to sit and listen through them all one-by-one.

Hell, they could even gamify it. What if someone who reports x number of tracks wins some sort of reward, e.g. a free month of Premium? It seems like a no-brainer to me. Encourage users to do it – the more they find and report, the more they stand to benefit from doing so.

For me, it would make the whole Spotify experience more trustworthy and more reliable. A more trustworthy and reliable service means that I’m going to remain a Premium user for longer; it means that a free user is going to listen more often, listening to more ads and therefore enabling more ad impressions – or decide to become a Premium user themselves, too. However if tracks continue to be tagged incorrectly, I might switch Spotify off (or cancel Premium altogether) and simply put Radio 2 on instead – and that’d be bad for Spotify.

In the meantime, I’ll try my best to rock out (minus the swears). Wish me luck, mofos.

[Expletive napkin image credit – Julie (sewitsforyou)]

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