Published on April 18, 2017 | Written by Jason Abbruzzese
Maybe a million streams on Spotify won’t make a musician rich, but Spotify believes it will help them get rich.
Spotify launched “Spotify for Artists” on Tuesday, a one-stop shop for the industry to tap into the company’s listening data.
The pitch is simple: Spotify knows who is listening to what music, where they are, when they’re listening, how long they listen for, which tracks they skip, etc. That’s valuable data for artists who now make much of their money from touring and merchandising instead of music sales.
Both examples Spotify pointed to as success stories have to do with touring. Spotify pointed to Lucy Rose, a British singer-songwriter who used Spotify data to decide to tour in Latin America, and Jake Udell, who sold out shows for two artists he represents after putting an aggressive marketing campaign behind a hit song.
A version of “Insights” has been around for more than a year and a half and was used by “tens of thousands” of artists. Tuesday’s relaunch is meant to streamline and centralize all the tools Spotify has built.
In the music industry, Spotify was once public enemy no. 1 — pointed to by artists, mangers, and labels as lowering the value of music by offering just about any song in existence for free. Plenty of musicians told stories of millions of streams resulting in paychecks for dozens of dollars.
The problem came to a head a couple years ago when Taylor Swift pulled just about all her music off Spotify.
The notion that Spotify held a treasure chest full of high-quality data is not news. The platform has been a mixed blessing for some genres such as metal. It might have hurt sales, but it opened up other opportunities to make money through targeted touring and better merchandising.
Now, Spotify is making a bigger push to become more than just a music destination. I recently spoke with a friend in the tech industry who said that Spotify could become to the modern music what radio was to the old music industry — an unavoidable layer that artists have to use because of its value beyond just revenue.
If Spotify can maintain its spot as the most dominant music streaming platform, the music industry (which has recently warmed to the platform) could end up having little choice but to play ball. It’s not all upside for Spotify, which recently had to make some concessions to sign new royalty agreements as it races to go public. The company has also not yet turned a profit.