Spotify includes Sabrina Carpenter's 'Please Please Please' on unrelated playlists, users frustrated, accuse Spotify in payola
PPP x Spotify

ALL Top 50 Artists on Spotify Have Sabrina Carpenter's 'Please Please Please' at Number 2 on Their Artist or Song Radios

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June 20, 2024

Sabrina Carpenter's latest single, "Please Please Please," has taken the Spotify world by storm, securing the number 2 spot on the artist and song radios of Spotify's top 50 artists.


the last week, Sabrina Carpenter has surpassed Bad Bunny, Ed Sheeran, Travis Scott, and Kanye West on Spotify. We expect her to overtake Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, and Dua Lipa by the end of the weekend on June 23rd, and Drake and Ariana Grande by next weekend—all before the release of her upcoming album "Short n' Sweet," scheduled for August 23, 2024. This surge in popularity has been driven by just two singles from the album, "Espresso" and "Please Please Please."

The rapid rise of Carpenter may interest not only fellow artists who she is steamrolling but also the entire music industry, fans and stans, and haters alike. Numerous Spotify users have taken to Twitter/X to express frustration over being inundated with Sabrina Carpenter's music. Users report that her songs frequently appear on their playlists and are often played automatically after their preferred tracks. Our investigation into this phenomenon reveals staggering results: "Please Please Please" occupies the number 2 position in 100% of the top 50 Spotify Artist playlists or their song playlists. In most cases, "Espresso" was found at number 8 on the same playlists.

'Please Please Please' at #2 on pop artists' Spotify radio playlists.

The question arises: Has Sabrina Carpenter created two of the most viral tracks in history with "Espresso" and "Please Please Please," or is there another factor at play? A glance at Twitter/X reveals numerous comments on this issue. Many users complain about "Espresso" and "Please Please Please" appearing in various playlists, from Rap and 60’s playlists to Spotify’s AI DJ. "Espresso" and "PPP" seem to be everywhere, and Spotify users are unhappy. A single tweet from a user complaining about Sabrina Carpenter’s omnipresence on their playlists garnered over 300k likes and 40 million views in under 48 hours. "PPP" has reportedly been playing after unrelated songs across all genres and decades.

Some fans speculate about the use of payola, the illegal practice of paying for radio song placements without disclosure. Others suggest that Sabrina Carpenter might have leverage over Spotify’s founder, Daniel Ek. The theories and complaints are widespread. From our research, "Please Please Please" has taken the number 2 position in playlists for artists such as 21 Savage, 50 Cent, ABBA, Adele, aespa, Amy Winehouse, Angele, Arctic Monkeys, Ariana Grande, Artemas, A$AP Rocky, AUDREY NUNA, Ava Max, BABYMONSTER, Bad Bunny, Bee Gees, Benson Boone, Beyonce, Billie Eilish, Billie Holiday, Billy Joel, BINI, BLACKPINK, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Chapell Roan, Charli XCX, Christina Aguilera, Central Cee, Coldplay, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Daddy Yankee, Dasha, David Guetta, Demi Lovato, Destiny’s Child, Doja Cat, Dolly Parton, Drake, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, elise rose, Elton John, Eminem, Etta James, Fart Fest, Fergie, FIFTY FIFTY, FKA twigs, FloyyMenor, Frank Sinatra, Future, Glass Animals, Gunna, Gwen Stefani, Harry Styles, Hillary Duff, Hozier, Imagine Dragons, J Balvin, Jay-Z, Jeff Buckley, JENNIE, Jennifer Lopez, Joni Mitchell, Jorja Smith, Jung Kook, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Karol G, Katy Perry, Kehlani, Kendrick Lamar, Khalid, Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Laufey, Lauryn Hill, LE SSERAFIM, Lil Nas X, Lily Allen, Macklemore, Madison Beer, Mahmood, Marshmello, Martin Garrix, Maroon 5, Meghan Trainor, Metro Boomin, Michael Buble, Michael Jackson, Miley Cyrus, Mitski, Myles Smith, Neon Trees, NewJeans, NSYNC, Olivia Rodrigo, One Direction, OneRepublic, Paramore, Paul McCartney, Pitbull, Post Malone, Queen, Rauw Alejandro, Rihanna, Rob Grant, Royel Otis, Rvissian, Sam Smith, Saweetie, Selena Gomez, Sexyy Red, Shaboozey, Shakira, Sherine, Sia, Soulja Boy, Spice Girls, Suki Waterhouse, SZA, Tame Impala, Tate McRae, Taylor Swift, Teddy Swims, THE ANXIETY, The Chainsmokers, The Kid Laroi,The Pussycat Dolls, The Ronettes, The Strokes, The Temptations, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Troye Sivan, Tommy Richman, Tony Bennett, Tracy Chapman, Twenty One Pilots, Victoria Monet, WILLOW.

Some of the more unusual times "PPP" showed up on our playlists were for artists like 21 Savage, 50 Cent, Eminem, ABBA, Bee Gees, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Queen, Sexyy Red, The Ronettes, The Strokes, The Temptations, and Tony Bennett.

Carpenter's 'Please Please Please' at #2 on 'Arctic Monkeys' and 'OneRepublic' Radio Playlists.
'Please Please Please' at #2 on Rap and R&B Radio Playlists.
'Please Please Please' at #2 on 'Dolly Parton', 'Paul McCartney' and 'Frank Sinatra' Radio Playlists.

After seeing a user on X/Twitter post about "PPP" playing after a fart track, we searched "Fart" on Spotify and created a Fart Radio, and "PPP" still took the 2nd position among the fart “songs.”

Sabrina Carpenter's 'Please Please Please' at #2 spot on 'Fart Fest' Radio Playlist.

This is just a sampling. Numerous Spotify users on Twitter/X share similar stories. One user, for example, reported "PPP" as the number 2 track on their Eminem Artist Radio, whereas for us, "PPP" was not on our Eminem Artist Radio but on Eminem’s Houdini Radio. Results vary from account to account.

X users have shared various accounts of how "PPP" appeared in unexpected playlists and contexts. Here are some of the most notable:

  • @joleena: “No matter what I’m listening to, as soon as the playlist or album ends, the 2nd 'random' song will always be a Sabrina Carpenter song…I have never actively put on [the] artist’s music. Spotify just forces me to listen to them.”
  • @KarmaIsAFad: “fraudulence never stops” in response to a Pop Crave post about “PPP” spending an 8th day at #1 on Spotify.
  • @shenshiro11: “Spotify keeps pushing Sabrina Carpenter on me like no I don’t want to hear the song randomly after Cleo soul.”
  • @anoobIRL: “Nothing against miss sabrina carpenter but I had to block her on Spotify cause she on all my radios and it don’t make sense.”
  • @dollarsuxx: “The Sabrina Carpenter autoplay on Spotify nothing like I’ve ever seen before.”
  • @icaruSYRE: “@Spotify girl I don’t know who is putting Sabrina Carpenter song on every fucking playlist but I need y’all to stop.”
  • @okaykaiju: “I hate Spotify I hate it so much I try to put on Tom Waits radio, and they give me 4 hours of acoustic guitar about killing yourself and one Espresso Sabrina Carpenter somehow.”
  • @Bunniboo19: “@Spotify do yall want to explain why Sabrina Carpenter just randomly played when my boyfriend was listening to @SUICIDEBOYS?”
  • @lashveli: “Every time I hear a Sabrina Carpenter song it is against my will also they keep fucking autoplaying on my Spotify like WHAT THE FUCK.”
  • @ReptarV2: “@Spotify why the hell is it that I’m listening to Nate Dogg and then the next song is Sabrina Carpenter???? Make it make sense.”
  • @shaybl: “The Sabrina Carpenter Spotify theory is true because tell me why did Please Please Please play during my 2000’s R&B playlist?”
  • @rickythomaslee: “Doesn’t matter what I listen to on Spotify, as soon as the playlist ends, that fucking Sabrina Carpenter song comes on immediately after and I can’t stand it. Please, please, please make it stop @SpotifyCares!!”
  • @gregweekss: “This Espresso nonsense Spotify is forcing down my throat lmaoo…How are you recommending that bullshit to me when I don’t even listen to basic pop at all. The music is fucking horrible.”
  • @tree_more6: “Okay I’m subscribing to this Sabrina Carpenter Spotify conspiracy. How is she popping up on my friend's account that listens to 90% Nigerian/African gospel and 10% Afrobeats?”
  • @EMP1R1C4L: “this fucking Sabrina carpenter woman kept showing in my recommended songs on Spotify, so every time I opened it it seemed like I was listening to her and I felt so embarrassed.”
  • @DavidRyanDev: “Spotify is shoving Espresso by Sabrina Carpenter down my throat with the DJ beta feature.”
  • @torturedpoemdep: “the Sabrina carpenter curse on Spotify is so real like I enjoy her music but the auto play of either please please please or espresso is fucking INSANEEEEEEE.”
  • @jmcmorrow08: “spotify please free me from the wrath of sabrina carpenter…I’ve blocked that dumbass song six times and it still plays WITHOUT fail after every single song and I DO NOT LIKE IT PLEASE FREE ME FROM THE TERROR.”
  • @jplarocque: “Spotify recommending Sabrina Carpenter on every damn playlist including shoegaze and ‘90s electronica. Was the algorithm always this obvious?”
  • @TME_RT: “Please I need legal advice. How can I sue Spotify for always playing Sabrina carpenter when I don’t even have her on my fucking playlist!!”
  • @dungeonsynthh: “THEN WHY IS ESPRESSO PLAYING AFTER 80s SKA SONGS, AFTER 40s FOLK SONGS, AFTER 00’s METAL ??? I don’t listen to her, and not many similar to her, so whyyyyy is espresso the default recommended song for everythinggg.”
  • @Dedalwdes: “She literally automatically plays in my Greek folk music from Asia Minor playlist.”
  • @animxmi: “Spotify you need to stop playing Sabrina Carpenter’s songs in unrelated genres before you potentially ruin her career by getting people to hate her.”
  • @GeorgeDanso97: “@capitolmusic and @katyperry Capitol we need the payola like Sabrina carpenter. All the hype and the payola to go number one. We don’t care anymore about anything. We just need a number one.”
  • @BrodyLogan: “The replies are amazing. @Spotify taking that big payola money to make every Sabrina Carpenter song a hit.”
  • Another user called Sabrina Carpenter “Autoplaybrina,” which received hundreds of thousands of views and thousands of likes.
Spotify users express their frustration on Twitter/X

A significant issue with what Spotify is doing with Sabrina Carpenter’s promotion is that every time it serves "Espresso" or "PPP" to a user on unrelated playlists or automatically plays the songs, the limited attention and time is going to the artist that Spotify is pushing, and not the music that should organically be playing. This diverts attention away from other artists, impacting both big and small artists, especially indie artists where every listener, fan, and royalty matters to make ends meet. The consequences are significant; we estimate that Sabrina Carpenter's promotion has diverted up to $2.5 million dollars from other artists and up to 4 billion listener minutes so far, and we expect these numbers to grow significantly.

Spotify recently updated their policy to state that tracks must have reached at least 1,000 streams in the previous 12 months to generate recorded royalties. If artists don't reach 1,000 streams on their tracks within 12 months from a diverse pool of listeners, Spotify will not pay royalties and will not count those streams after 12 months. Taking attention away from users by pushing their artists of choice means that many thousands of artists will not reach their royalty thresholds to be paid. This translates to less discovery, revenue, fans, merch sales, concert sales, album sales, etc., for other artists. It’s a zero-sum game because listeners have limited time.

In the last month, Sabrina Carpenter went from 58 million monthly listeners to 74 million, a staggering increase of 16 million. She has recently been gaining up to 1.3 million new listeners per day. Additionally, her listener-to-follower conversion rate on Spotify is 12.7%, whereas the average for the top 20 artists on Spotify is 72.5%. As of this writing, Sabrina Carpenter is the 14th biggest artist on Spotify. We expect her to finish the weekend as the 10th biggest, overtaking Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, and Dua Lipa in short order, and reach the number 7 spot by next weekend, surpassing Drake and Ariana Grande—all before her album release. As Spotify keeps pushing Ms. Carpenter and she continues to overtake other artists, it is sure to upset the fans of these artists, and perhaps the artists themselves, who are losing both position and revenue from their own playlists to Spotify's favorite artists of choice.

Given the significant impact on other artists and the user experience, Spotify has some serious explaining to do. The company needs to address the concerns of artists whose radio playlists are not just being overshadowed but are losing top positions to Carpenter's songs. This translates to lost revenue and listeners for these artists, which could severely impact their careers. Spotify may need to consider compensating for the lost revenue. Fans and Spotify users, too, deserve transparency and a fair listening experience. The current situation may even call for intervention by a regulatory body to ensure proper oversight and fair practices in music streaming. If Spotify continues the aggressive promotion, the potential for backlash grows, not only from users but also from the wider music industry. The need for a more transparent and fair approach to music promotion is clear, ensuring that all artists have a fair chance to reach their audience. If these practices persist, they could fundamentally alter the landscape of the music industry, prioritizing algorithmic manipulation over genuine artistic discovery and fan engagement.

'Please Plese Please' at #2 on K-Pop Radio Playlists.
'Please Please Please' at #2 on 2000s Pop Radio Playlists.
'Please Please Please' at #2 on Latin Radio Playlists.
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