The Sponsored Songs are starting to show up within playlists followed by users and are created to be in-keeping with the user's listening habits.
A mysterious "Sponsored Content" opt-out setting recently appeared in Spotify, and now the streaming giant has confirmed to TechCrunch what it's about. They aren't as obtrusive as traditional ads and can be targeted to "fit in" with other tracks on a given playlist. Spotify is now testing a new "Sponsored Song" ad unit that a company spokesperson tells us is "a product test for labels to promote singles on the free tier".
If you're seeing the sponsored songs within your account, you can check for the option to disable them under Settings Display Options (on desktop), or "Sponsored Content" (on mobile).
It may be an annoying feature for some Spotify users, but it isn't exactly surprising. The option is listed as "show sponsored songs" and it is turned on by default. How widely the sponsored songs are being distributed isn't clear. Sponsored content in general is not new for Spotify - previous year they allowed their most popular playlists to be sponsored by brands - but allowing labels to promote individual songs certainly is.
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Sponsored Songs could slip right into Spotify without interrupting the listening experience. Users say the song announces that it is sponsored before it plays, however it doesn't seem a sponsored tag is presented visually. If a listener adds a new song to their regular rotation, for example, it could help them discover a new artist, listen to more of their music and maybe even result in concert ticket and merchandise sales.