Is Spotify about to drop the mic?
This week Spotify has rolled out a testing phase allowing a few hundred independent artists to upload music straight to its music streaming service. It’s unclear if and when this will be unleashed across the entire platform for bands and artists, however it looks like Spotify have listened to the most frequently asked question thrown at them since its inception: ‘Why can’t I upload my music straight to Spotify?’.
Spotify is the biggest music streaming service with over 40% of the market share and is currently valued at around $20 billion. Make no mistake, this platform is not struggling or needing a new market. Spotify is currently growing its user base at around 20% year on year, with its 180 million active users set to rise to 210 million before 2019 spread across 61 countries.
Since its creation in 2006, Spotify’s entry for musicians has been guarded by gatekeepers called Digital Service Providers (or aggregators). These DSPs upload music to this and other streaming services including Deezer, Apple Music, Tidal and of course iTunes, but is this the end for these doormen of the world’s biggest music club?
So if Spotify becomes the YouTube of music, allowing musicians to upload anything they choose to release, what does this mean for the music industry and more importantly what does this mean for you ‘The Artist’, ‘The Consumer’, or ‘The DSP office worker’?
This is a game changer for musicians to upload their music to a streaming service with over 200 million active listeners and incredible discovery capabilities. Spotify will cut out the middle man allowing musicians an easier route to get their music heard and funded. The Likes of CD Baby, Tunecore and Distrokid will be replaced by an upload button. It’s now a level playing field from school band to The Foo Fighters!
This could be another disaster for small indie labels giving even more control to artists. Remember those days when we had to go to HMV to buy our CDs? Well that was a huge operation in order to record in huge studios before CDs were manufactured and shipped around the world, whereas Drake can now autotune his vocals off his iPhone! Labels are going to need to be smarter than ever to survive.
Spotify has a fantastic search engine and algorithm, so as consumers we shouldn’t notice too much change – after all there are twenty thousand songs uploaded daily to its 30 million track database! However the world of unsigned bands isn’t Premier League football, it’s more like a free for all Sunday league match where tackles fly in from all angles! Can you imagine how many bands there are in the world called ‘Apollo’ or ‘DeJa Vu’? It’s going to get busy quickly!
The DSP (Digital Service Provider)
While I’m sure there are some bad smells coming out of some exec’s offices at Tunecore and CD Baby, they won’t be packing their bags just yet as there are plenty of other music streaming services including iTunes. However, if Apple music (who will be watching closely) join in, it could be game over for these middle men & women… Sorry guys!
The Music Industry
I’m sure Spotify have thought of many of these questions – but what about cover songs? Podcasts, Audiobooks, demos, live gigs or even political shit-storms? Who will police this? This will be changing Spotify into Youtube for music… and if it doesn’t effect us, as consumers and artists get more control and potentially more money, is that such a bad thing?
I mean… what could possibly go wrong?