Seeing listeners are going to follow a playlist because they have come to trust a curator for their taste and/or for the type of genre music that's listed in the playlist, giving the curator a payment (albeit from the artist) would open the door for a bad user experience. Curators may move from adding tracks that they like, to adding tracks just because they would get a share and I don't believe this is following the mindset of what Spotify wants to achieve. I feel a curator needs to really like the track and really feel it fits in his playlist and do that for the love of the music and basically to stay on top of his/her tastemaking game :)
I agree 100% with your perspective.
That works in an ideal world.
My concern is... that playola ACTUALLY exists. I am approached on a periodical basiswith such offers. Or, when I do the networking you mention in the last sentences, often the answer is "ok, yes, BUT... what are you offering me on return" (when they are subtle) or "ok, one track are 100 dollars, if you agree i send you the payment details" (when they are direct).
Do you have any idea that could solve the issue (I see it as a problem, maybe is not...?)
My proposal was a try to accent not the "punishment" but the rewards.
Initially I also thought about a gamification approach, but i discarded it soon because it would be wvn worse:
Imagine that spotify gives some points system that rewards a curator with "kudos" when they include tracks etc etc. That seems to be fun BUT the next step would be that those curators put their price according to the "kudos" they have and their "ranking" in the playlist system. The solution would be worse than the problem...
The solution? It's "simple". I also had issues with getting music into playlists - either the curator wants something in return or it's just a hassle to really get the music out there. So, what did I do?
I created my own playlists (or should I say "our" own playlists). One if which is at 107k followers now and doing really well. In turn I don't ask anything to put the tracks in the playlists (it's a specific niche genre) but instead do it because I like the music and I notice now that artists are starting to share the playlists and showing their thanks - which is more than enough. I put a lot of hours into analytics and marketing possibilities to grow the playlist as best as possible.
So, ideally... this would be your best option. Instead of wasting time trying to fight them, put your efforts into really gorwing your own list which in turn offers great networking possibilities.