Spotify Launches Couples Plan

Spotify:

With Spotify Premium Duo, our new, first-of-its-kind subscription plan, couples can enjoy their favorite music—together and separately. 

Premium Duo is designed for audio-loving pairs living at the same address. Each individual gets their own Premium account under one plan in addition to unique benefits for couples for just $12.99 (or market equivalent) per month.

Spotify Acquires The Ringer

The Ringer

Spotify has acquired The Ringer.

Spotify has purchased The Ringer, Bill Simmons’ sports and culture site, the companies announced today (February 5). The move follows the streaming service’s expansion into podcasts. (The Ringer has 30 podcasts.) The Ringer, which was previously in partnership with Vox Media, also has a video network, film production division, and book imprint, as The New York Times notes.

Simmons, the former ESPN commentator who founded The Ringer in 2016, said in a statement: “Spotify has the unique ability to truly supercharge both content and creator talent across genres. We spent the last few years building a world-class sports and pop culture multimedia digital company and believe Spotify can take us to another level. We couldn’t be more excited to unlock Spotify’s power of scale and discovery, introduce The Ringer to a new global audience, and build the world’s flagship sports audio network.”

I know I’m probably not like most casual podcast listeners, but the moment any of this content goes behind any kind of Spotify exclusive wall, I’m out on the shows. Neil Cybart’s take on why Spotify spent the money here feels right to me. The economics of streaming music isn’t great and they’re betting on sports radio/talk and podcasts.

Spotify Acquires SoundBetter

TechCrunch:

Spotify today took another step in its efforts to build out services for artists to help diversify itself away from a business model predicated on paying music streaming royalties to labels: it has acquired SoundBetter, a music production marketplace for artists, producers, and musicians to connect on specific projects; and for people who are looking to distribute music tracks to those who want to license them.

Pre-Saving Albums Can Allow Labels to Track Users on Spotify

Billboard:

Users who “pre-save” an upcoming release to their Spotify accounts may be sharing more personal data with the act’s label than they realize.

To pre-save music, which adds a release to a user’s library as soon as it comes out, Spotify users click through and approve permissions that give the label far more account access than the streaming giant normally grants them — enough to track what they listen to, change what artists they follow and potentially even control their music streaming remotely.

Spotify Ending Beta Artist Upload Program

Spotify is ending their direct upload program:

Almost a year ago, we started to beta test a feature that lets independent artists upload their music directly to Spotify. Today, we notified participating artists about our decision to close the beta program, along with how we can help them migrate their music to other distributors over the next month.

Spotify Says They Overpaid Songwriters and Publishers in 2018

Tim Ingham, writing at Music Business Worldwide:

Because of this additional complexity, Spotify has now calculated that, retrospectively, according to the CRB decision, many music publishers actually owe it money for 2018, due to an overpayment based on the prior rates. And guess what? It wants that money back.

Spotify told the publishers the news this week and, as you can imagine, these companies – already up in arms over Spotify’s CRB appeal – are fuming about it.

One senior figure in the music publishing industry told MBW: “Spotify is clawing back millions of dollars from publishers in the US based on the new CRB rates that favor the DSPs, while appealing the [wider CRB decision]. This puts some music publishers in a negative position. It’s unbelievable.”

Spotify’s Mood Related Data Lets Advertisers Target by Listeners Emotional State

Liz Pelly, writing for The Baffler:

[A] more careful look into Spotify’s history shows that the decision to define audiences by their moods was part of a strategic push to grow Spotify’s advertising business in the years leading up to its IPO—and today, Spotify’s enormous access to mood-based data is a pillar of its value to brands and advertisers, allowing them to target ads on Spotify by moods and emotions. Further, since 2016, Spotify has shared this mood data directly with the world’s biggest marketing and advertising firms.

This creeps me out.

Spotify’s Postal Address Insanity

Josh Centers, writing at TidBITS:

Apparently, Spotify requires address verification to try to ensure that all family members are in the same household, so presumably, those addresses need to be entered identically. Did my wife type out the word “bypass” in our address, or did she use an abbreviation? Did she put our box number on the first or second line? Wanting to make sure I got it right, I asked her to check the address format on her account.

Apple Music’s U.S. Subscriber Count Overtakes Spotify

Reuters is reporting that Apple Music has surpassed Spotify in paid monthly U.S. subscribers:

Apple Inc’s streaming music service overtook rival Spotify Technology SA in terms of paid subscribers in the United States, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

Apple’s service had 28 million subscribers as of the end of February compared with Spotify’s 26 million paid subscribers, the person said.

Spotify Files Complaint With European Commission Against Apple

Spotify has filed an anti-trust complaint with EU regulators against Apple:

Spotify is filing a complaint against Apple with the European Commission, accusing the latter company of anticompetitive behaviour in the way it manages its App Store, and thus gives its own Apple Music streaming service an advantage over rivals.

I found this thread on Twitter did a pretty good job summing up my thoughts:

We’re not debating anything that that has anything to do with what’s good in the long run for customers.

We’re fighting over who gets to have a larger monopoly on fucking artists.

I think Apple has long had anti-competitive behavior in the app store, specifically in regard to rent seeking, and Spotify has its own issues that I think are anti-artist.

Spotify Premium Now Includes Hulu

Cameron Faulkner, writing at The Verge:

Spotify Premium now includes a free subscription to Hulu’s ad-supported plan. This perk goes into effect today, and it is available to new and existing users of Spotify’s Premium streaming service in the US. Following Netflix’s recent price hike, Hulu lowered the cost of its ad-supported plan down to $5.99 a month, and now, Spotify users will get savings on top of savings.

Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play

Ben Thompson, writing at Stratechery:

Basically, the wall that Spotify can put up around podcasts is much stronger than the one it can put up around music, and podcasters have fewer alternatives. Or, to put it another way, podcasts are a market where Spotify — to the extent they are willing to pay — actually has power over supply. […]

To put it another way, Anchor is a means of generating supply, and it is supply that has always stood in the way of Spotify’s ambitions to be an Aggregator. Aggregators bring suppliers onto the platform on their terms; Spotify, on the other hand, has had to scratch and claw to get labels to give them the music they needed to be viable. And again, the acquisition of Gimlet Media, while better from a long-term leverage perspective, is not a big improvement: Spotify almost certainly overpaid if the only goal was to obtain supply.

This is, as always, a very smart take.

Spotify Purchases Gimlet and Anchor

Spotify has purchased Gilmet, the podcast company, and Anchor, a podcast producing platform:

Based on radio industry data, we believe it is a safe assumption that, over time, more than 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content. This means the potential to grow much faster with more original programming — and to differentiate Spotify by playing to what makes us unique — all with the goal of becoming the world’s number one audio platform.

Spotify wants to be the YouTube of audio.