Spotify to Launch New Premium Plan

Bloomberg:

Spotify Technology SA will introduce a new, higher-priced premium plan for its most ardent users later this year, according to a person familiar with the plan. Users will be charged at least $5 more per month for access to better audio and new tools for creating playlists and managing their song libraries, said the person.

Spotify Announces New Price Increase

Variety:

The Spotify Premium Individual plan is increasing by $1, from $10.99 to $11.99 per month, according to the company’s updated price listings. The Premium Family plan, which provides access for up to six members a household, is going up by $3, from $16.99 to $19.99 per month.

Spotify to Discontinue Car Thing

The Verge:

Spotify’s brief attempt at being a hardware company wasn’t all that successful: the company stopped producing its Car Thing dashboard accessory less than a year after it went on sale to the public. And now, two years later, the device is about to be rendered completely inoperable. Customers who bought the Car Thing are receiving emails warning that it will stop working altogether as of December 9th.

Unfortunately for those owners, Spotify isn’t offering any kind of subscription credit or automatic refund for the device — nor is the company open-sourcing it. Rather, it’s just canning the project and telling people to (responsibly) dispose of Car Thing.

Spotify’s New Royalty Model to Pay Songwriters Less

Kristin Robinson, writing at Billboard:

When Bloomberg reported that Spotify would be upping the cost of its premium subscription from $9.99 to $10.99, and including 15 hours of audiobooks per month in the U.S., the change sounded like a win for songwriters and publishers. Higher subscription prices typically equate to a bump in U.S. mechanical royalties — but not this time. 

By adding audiobooks into Spotify’s premium tier, the streaming service now claims it qualifies to pay a discounted “bundle” rate to songwriters for premium streams, given Spotify now has to pay licensing for both books and music from the same price tag — which will only be a dollar higher than when music was the only premium offering. Additionally, Spotify will reclassify its duo and family subscription plans as bundles as well.

To determine how great this loss in royalty value would be for the music business, Billboard calculated that songwriters and publishers will earn an estimated $150 million less in U.S. mechanical royalties from premium, duo and family plans for the first 12 months that this is in effect, compared to what they would have earned if these three subscriptions were never bundled

Spotify Recommending A.I. Generated Music

Spotify has been recommending “A.I. generated music” to some users:

My favorite example of this is AI music spreading across on Spotify right now. A user on X this week spotted an Artist page called Obscurest Vinyl that was promoted by Spotify’s Discovery Weekly.

The story behind the page is interesting. Obscurest Vinyl started as a Facebook page that would photoshop fake album covers for classic records that didn’t exist. The page recently shifted into posting AI songs to go with the fake album covers. As one commenter noted, you can tell the songs are AI because most of them feature bass and drum parts that don’t repeat in any discernible pattern. The account also regularly fights with users on Instagram who gripe about it using AI. 

Look, I think songs titled things like, “I Glued My Balls To My Butthole Again” are, honestly, pretty funny, AI or not. But they’re being uploaded to Apple Music and Spotify, which is where the snake starts to eat its own tail. Popular AI music generators like Suno clearly have datasets that include at least some copyrighted material (likely a lot). Which means, in this instance, Spotify is promoting and monetizing an account using an AI likely trained on the music that’s been uploaded to their platform that they don’t actually pay enough to support the creation of. And this is happening across every corner of the web right now.

Spotify Plans New Remixing Tools

Wall Street Journal:

The audio streaming company is developing tools that would allow subscribers to speed up, mash up and otherwise edit songs from their favorite artists, according to people familiar with the discussions. It is a bet on the future of music consumption that Spotify hopes will deepen user engagement and appeal to young users, while generating new revenue for artists. 

Kinda hate this.

Spotify to Raise Prices in 2024

Bloomberg:

The streaming giant will increase prices by about $1 to $2 a month in five markets by the end of April, including the UK, Australia and Pakistan, according to people familiar with the matter. It will raise prices in the US, its largest territory, later this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential plans.

Matt Farley Tries to Match Every Search Term on Spotify

The New York Times

Brett Martin, writing for the New York Times:

Largely, though not entirely, on the strength of such songs, Farley has managed to achieve that most elusive of goals: a decent living creating music. In 2008, his search-engine optimization project took in $3,000; four years later, it had grown to $24,000. The introduction of Alexa and her voice-activated sistren opened up the theretofore underserved nontyping market, in particular the kind fond of shouting things like “Poop in my fingernails!” at the computer. “Poop in My Fingernails,” by the Toilet Bowl Cleaners, currently has over 4.4 million streams on Spotify alone. To date, that “band,” and the Odd Man Who Sings About Poop, Puke and Pee, have collectively brought in approximately $469,000 from various platforms. They are by far Farley’s biggest earners, but not the only ones: Papa Razzi and the Photogs has earned $41,000; the Best Birthday Song Band Ever, $38,000; the Guy Who Sings Your Name Over and Over, $80,000. Dozens of others have taken in two, three or four digits: the New Orleans Sports Band, the Chicago Sports Band, the Singing Film Critic, the Great Weather Song Person, the Paranormal Song Warrior, the Motern Media Holiday Singers, who perform 70 versions of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” substituting contemporary foods for figgy pudding. It adds up. Farley quit his day job in 2017.

Spotify Experimenting With Online Video Courses

Jon Porter, writing for The Verge:

Spotify’s UK users are getting access to a fourth category of content to sit alongside its existing library of songs, podcasts and audiobooks: online courses. The company is today launching a new experiment that’ll see video-based lessons from BBC Maestro, Skillshare, Thinkific, and PlayVirtuoso made available via Spotify’s apps on mobile and desktop. The experiment is running in just the UK, and there are currently no guarantees that it’ll get a wider more permanent launch.

Spotify Adding Music Videos

Spotify is rolling out music videos as a new beta feature for some artists.

The beta version of music videos on Spotify begins rolling out today with a limited catalog of music videos, including hits from global artists like Ed Sheeran, Doja Cat, and Ice Spice, or local favorites like Aluna and Asake.

Despite Music Industry Growth, Companies Are Tightening

Lucas Shaw, writing for Bloomberg:

Last year was brutal for the media business, as nearly every major entertainment and technology company fired employees. This year is shaping up to be more of the same.

More than a dozen major corporations across technology, finance and media announced major job cuts this past week, including Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Unity Software Inc. Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, plans cuts in the first quarter. Animation studio Pixar will let staff go in the second half. All told, media companies have fired more than 70,000 employees since the start of last year, according to Vivek Couto at Media Partners Asia.

EU Regulating Music Streaming Royalties

Globe

The Verge:

The EU has proposed sweeping changes within the music streaming industry to promote smaller artists and make sure underpaid performers are being fairly compensated. 

A resolution to address concerns regarding inadequate streaming royalties for artists and biased recommendation algorithms was adopted by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Wednesday, highlighting that no existing EU rules currently apply to music streaming services, despite being the most popular way to consume audio.

Spotify Protests New Tax in France

Paul Sawers, writing for TechCrunch:

Spotify is pulling support for two music festivals in protest against a controversial new tax directed at music-streaming platforms operating in France, and threatened more action will follow in the coming months.

Antoine Monin, managing director for Spotify in the France and Benelux regions, took to X this week to decry a new tax that will impose a levy of what is expected to be between 1.5 and 1.75% on all music-streaming services, with the proceeds going toward the Centre National de la Musique (CNM), which was established in 2020 to support the French music sector.

Spotify Announces More Layoffs

Spotify has announced they are laying off 1,500 people:

This brings me to a decision that will mean a significant step change for our company. To align Spotify with our future goals and ensure we are right-sized for the challenges ahead, I have made the difficult decision to reduce our total headcount by approximately 17% across the company. I recognize this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions. To be blunt, many smart, talented and hard-working people will be departing us.

Meanwhile, the stock spiked on the news so the CFO cashed in.