Spotify has introduced a new feature allowing artists to receive “tips” or donate money to charity.
Bands can pin an “Artist Fundraising Pick” badge to the top of their Spotify profile, highlighting a fundraising destination where fans can send cash.
As well as fundraising for themselves, artists can give money to charity or to road crews who are out of work while tours are on hold due to Covid-19.
Spotify said it hoped the feature would help artists affected by the lockdown.
“First and foremost, this feature enables artists who are interested in raising money to support themselves, their bands, or their crews, to get the word out to their fans on their Spotify artist profiles,” it said in a blog post announcing the initiative.
“Given the urgency and impact of the Covid-19 crisis, we’re working as quickly as we can to develop this new product and get it out to as many artists as possible. However, we’ve never built a fundraising feature like this before.”
“We consider this a first version that will evolve as we learn how to make it as helpful as possible for the music community.”
Dance act Marshmello was one of the first to sign up, encouraging his 33m monthly listeners to donate to the Musicares coronavirus relief fund, set up by the Grammys to support out-of-work musicians.
“So many of us have been affected by the Covid-19 virus, and now more than ever we need to stand together and help each other,” he said.
Singer-songwriter Taylor Vick, who releases music under the moniker Boy Scouts, is using the feature to try to remain solvent.
“Like so many others right now, I am out of work as our tours have been cancelled or postponed because of Covid-19,” she said. “Any help is appreciated as we keep in our efforts to find new ways to get by.”
Online “tipping” has become commonplace on streaming sites like Twitch and the podcast app Himalaya.
In China, the feature is baked into streaming services like QQ Music, Kugou and Kuwo and the karaoke app WeSing – which are all run by tech conglomerate Tencent.
Writers can also be tipped for their stories through WeChat and podcasters for their episodes on Ximalaya, China’s biggest spoken-word audio platform.
Artists broadly welcomed Spotify’s foray into the world of tipping, but some suggested the site could make a bigger impact by increasing the royalties it paid musicians.
Last month, a petition was set up by Evan Greer asking Spotify to triple its royalty payments following the loss of earnings that has arisen through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Swedish company has not responded to those demands; but has separately pledged up to $10 million in donations to organizations supporting artists in need, including MusiCares and the UK charities Help Musicians and the PRS Foundation.