Spotify is opening up a direct music pipeline for artists to upload their music straight onto its service, adding a new way for musicians to get their art on the world’swithout a label or other distributor acting as the middle man.
It could help empower artists you love — and those you haven’t heard of, yet — to have more creative freedom and make more money off their creations. Partly thanks to the, independent unsigned artists are reaching heights of popularity that were once limited to stars backed by a major label. Chance the Rapper, for example, rose to prominence without a label via mixtapes posted to SoundCloud and won the last year.
The upload feature could also take Spotify a step toward eroding the power of labels, putting it in a delicate position of chipping away at the dominion of its partners who supply the vast majority of its music.
The feature, which is in beta test mode, lets some artists — those own the copyrights to their own music, so those who likely aren’t signed to a label — upload directly to Spotify via the service’s creator hub, Spotify for Artists. A handful of artists have been testing the feature already, including Chicago rapper Noname, Haitian producer Michael Brun, LA-based singer VIAA, and New York electronic act Hot Shade.
Noname, Brun and VIAA all put their latest releases in the last couple weeks on Spotify via direct upload.
But this feature won’t be turning Spotify into SoundCloud or YouTube anytime soon. It will be invitation-only for a few hundred US-based artists initially, though the company said it wanted to expand it to more artists and more countries in the future. (It wouldn’t specify a timeline for the roll-out.) Even when the feature is theoretically open to all, artists must own the copyrights to their music in order to upload it — a barrier to entry that may keep Spotify from being quite the free-for-all that SoundCloud and YouTube have been.
Another thing that Spotify says it won’t be: “Spotify is not becoming a label,” said Kene Anoliefo, senior product lead for Spotify’s creator marketplace, in an interview Wednesday.
Labels were rankled in June when a report indicated Spotify was directly licensing music from indie artists. That report said that Spotify was paying artists money in the form of advances. That would have brought Spotify closer to the role of a label, which typically pays large advances to produce artists’ records. Then the label holds the copyrights to the recordings and shares part of the sales back with the musician.
Thursday, a Spotify spokesman said that no artists participating in the direct-upload test were paid advances.
And the Spotify upload feature doesn’t have any effect on copyright. The feature also doesn’t have any exclusivity terms: Artists are free to post their works to other streaming service, or any place they want to put it. Spotify doesn’t charge any fees or commissions to upload directly, which artist tend to incur when they use a service like CD Baby or Distrokid to upload their tunes to Spotify and other platforms.
Spotify is sharing 50 percent of revenue with artists for the streaming of their songs. That’s reportedly a little lower than what Spotify generally pays to a label, but an independent artist who uploads directly to Spotify won’t have a label taking a large cut out of the revenue share.
Originally published at 6:30 am PT.
Updated at 6:57 am PT: With more details.
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