It's happened: Spotify artists in need are now asking users for cash directly

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Do you want to support your favorite artists and musicians on Spotify? The music streaming service has added a new feature to allow you to do just that, with a donation button that lets you send cash directly to your chosen artist – if they decide to ask you for it.

The move comes amid great uncertainty among performers and gig workers, many of whom have lost their primary source of income through bans on public gatherings (and therefore concerts). 

While the feature was initially announced back in late March – with the option for artists to preemptively sign up – it's only now gone into effect.

In a blog post, Spotify wrote that, "We also felt we could uniquely help by providing the global reach of Spotify to artists who are fundraising during this challenging time — to help them get the word out to fans, many of whom visit them on Spotify every day. And we've been really inspired by fans that want to help the artists they love and have been making direct donations."

You won't be able to donate to anyone, though, as artists will have to turn on the feature themselves and publicize the fact they're accepting donations. As ever, the higher-profile acts on the platform will likely be the least in need, but most likely to receive significant donations – though we encourage anyone with donations to spare to consider the lesser-known artists in their Spotify library.

Donations to partnered organizations such as Help Musicians and MusicCares will also be matched, though you'll need to donate through Spotify directly for that to happen. To clarify, Spotify does not take a cut of donations.

Artist support

This is a welcome move, given the economic uncertainty for many artists and bands these days, many of whom have had to cancel live shows, if not entire tours as much of the world goes into lockdown.

It does raise an uncomfortable question over Spotify's role in these artists' financially precarious position, though, with the amount of income available to musicians through music streaming platforms (often as low as $0.003 per stream) being nowhere near enough to make a substantial living, and those rates being largely directed towards the biggest and most popular streamers (via Business Insider).

By all means donate for now, but Spotify needs to be a viable solution for artist in the long-term – that doesn't rely on handouts from users already suffering ads or paying a $9.99 / £9.99 / AU$11.99 per month subscription.

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Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.