Streaming music services such as Spotify offer interesting new avenues for engaging consumer audiences. In addition to the ability to purchase audio and video ad spots on the service, brands can also sponsor Spotify's owned and operated playlists or create their own curated playlists on their brand pages.

However, before putting up that playlist of summer jams, could featuring an artist's tunes in your brand's playlist without permission from the artist trigger copyright, right of publicity or trademark concerns? Although risk must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis, here are some helpful guidelines that Spotify recommends in its updated Brand Playlist terms to avoid implying endorsements:

  • Put at least 20 tracks on your playlist. In order to avoid implying an endorsement by any specific artist, the more tracks you have, the better.
  • No single artist should appear more than once on any playlist. Again, if an artist is featured more often or more prominently than others, this could imply the artist’s endorsement of your brand.
  • Avoid using artists that you have reason to think would be opposed to your brand. For instance, a brand may want to avoid featuring tracks from an artist who is a spokesperson for a competing brand or known to have a moral opposition to your brand or its industry.
  • Playlists should be editorial in nature (as opposed to resembling a commercial for the product). Spotify suggests that just like other users, a brand should “show the world what kind of music your brand likes to listen to while partying, driving, or enjoying a cup of coffee.”
  • If you already have an artist who is a spokesperson or influencer for your brand, this may be a good opportunity to showcase that artist and promote their relationship to your brand.

{ Spotify allows companies to sponsor its curated flagship playlists, or brand accounts can create “branded playlists” that evoke a brand's message.