In 2018, streaming giant Spotify announced that they would be working on a service that would allow artists to upload their music directly to the platform, as opposed to working through the often difficult process involving third-party distribution. This announcement was a breath of fresh air to many musicians, especially independents who are often unable to access, or afford, the long process involved in reaching out to third parties (and labels) in order to present their work on the easy-access streaming service.
In recent years, the popularity of streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music has skyrocketed, with the subscription platforms proving to be a major hit with the public – with millions of subscribers able to access an incredible amount of music at their fingertips.
With this announcement, Spotify announced they would be beta-testing the feature which would allow artists direct access and control over sharing their work on the platform: which in turn has been a major asset in allowing new artists to emerge into the public consciousness.
Unfortunately, this will no longer be the case. On July 1st, Spotify released a statement confirming that they will be rolling back the feature: as of the end of July, Spotify will no longer be allowing artist-direct uploads to the platform – leaving unsigned, independent artists back in the same position as they found themselves before.
When the feature was first announced in 2018, the idea of creating a new, accessible space that focuses on benefitting new artists (and in turn, listeners) was promising, as well as exciting for those who never before had access to having their music so prominently available on such a massive platform. Albeit still somewhat exclusive, with specific artists invited to test out the free direct-upload beta, as time moved forward there was a noticeable breakout in new, independent music. Spotify has stated that this move is in response to direct feedback from artists.
The company has released a statement regarding the new move, with an excerpt below:
“…Over the past year, we’ve vastly improved our work with distribution partners to ensure metadata quality, protect artists from infringement, provide their users with instant access to Spotify for Artists, and more…
The best way for us to serve artists and labels is to focus our resources on developing tools in areas where Spotify can uniquely benefit them — like Spotify for Artists.”
Artists who have previously used the beta-program have also been re-assured in a further statement:
“We’re working with our distribution partners to help make this transition as simple as possible for the artists who uploaded music through the beta. At the end of this month, we’ll stop accepting any new uploads through Spotify for Artists, and artists will need to move their already released content to another provider.”
With this announcement that the feature will no longer be available, we wonder whether this move will negatively affect independent artists: many of whom are unable to afford to work with third-party distributors, or are unsigned may suffer due to this change. We hope that the features Spotify has planned for the future will allow for an evolution in independent music: however we cannot deny our concern when to comes to DIY, independent music culture suffering in the face of possible profit driven motives. At this point, all we can really do is wait and see.
By Jenna Dreisenstock