In my later days of being a Visual Artist (I normally go with the title of “Photographer” for the sake of simplicity, but photography was only one of the mediums I used for conceptual projects), I was pretty fascinated with the concept of synesthesia, which ultimately led to studying binaural beats for a video project. Since then, I’ve been using these tones to help me focus when reading or writing. While the science behind the cognitive effects of listening to binaural beats seems to be far from complete, there’s a chance that listening to binaural beats might not have an actual effect on my cognitive processing, but I chose to continuing listening to them even if it’s just the placebo effect I might be experiencing during mentally-demanding tasks.
On a day when I have to write, I usually hop on youtube to listen to this specific “beat”, but my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to check if there were any binaural beats on Spotify. It turns out there’s handful of Spotify-curated ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) playlists, one with over 125k followers containing binaural beats.
A criticism frequently brought up on Spotify’s business model is the operating expense that comes in the form of royalties they have to dish out royalties to the three major record label companies for the act of licensing out their IP on the Spotify platform. In order to decrease market share from the record labels, which held 79% of the share of listening on Spotify in 2017, and as a result decrease operating expenses, the streaming company has been launching strategic initiatives that included the suspected low-royalty ‘fake artists’ fiasco earlier this year.
I would think that binaural beats would potentially provide higher-margin revenue for Spotify. It looks as if there are actual people (artists) that upload these tracks, as seen by the artist of the first track on the ASMR Sleep Sounds playlist, Creative Calm ASMR. However, who’s to say that some of these beats aren’t coming from Spotify themselves? I mean, they’re just tonal frequencies so how difficult would it be to export these frequencies and upload them onto the platform?
Most of the tracks are 2-3 minutes in length and, in my own consumption behavior, I normally listen to binaural beats on YouTube an average of 1-2 hours. That would mean that if I’m listening to a binaural tone for 2 hours on Spotify, I would be looping a track 40 times. What about people that use binaural tones as a sleeping aid? If someone sleeping about 7 hours a night, a track would be looped 140 times! With the potential of stealing share of listening via binaural tones, I’m not quite sure why binaural tones on Spotify aren’t advertised.