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 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.
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.
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 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.
Peter Kafka, writing at Recode:
Spotify, which has been trying to branch out of the streaming music business, is getting ready to make its first big move into podcasting: It plans to pay more than $200 million to buy Gimlet Media, the startup behind popular shows like Reply All.
Tom Warren, writing at The Verge:
Spotify is getting ready to enable a block feature in its apps to mute artists you don’t want to hear from. Spotify is currently testing the “don’t play this artist” feature in its latest iOS app, and The Verge has been able to test the new block functionality ahead of its release soon. The feature simply lets you block an entire artist from playing, so that songs from the artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list, or even radio stations on Spotify.
Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch:
This has led Spotify to believe that influencers in the podcast community will be able to bring their community with them when they become a Spotify exclusive, and then further grow their listener base by tapping into Spotify’s larger music user base and, soon, an improved recommendation system.
Personally, I think an “exclusive” to one platform ‘podcast’ isn’t really a podcast. It’s a Spotify radio show. Which, cool, that’s fine, but if it’s not available via an RSS feed to any podcast player, it’s not a podcast.
Spotify have announced the top streamed artists, albums, and tracks from 2018.
Music lovers continued with some existing favorites, such as 2015 and 2016’s most-streamed artist, Drake, who took home the crown once again this year. With 8.2 billion streams in 2018 alone, the Canadian rapper is now our most-streamed artist of all time. His album “Scorpion” and song “God’s Plan” took the top slots in their categories—with “God’s Plan” bringing in more than 1 billion streams.
The top rising genre? Emo Rap.
Dan Rys, writing at Billboard:
Beginning today (Sept. 20), Spotify will begin allowing a select group of independent artists the ability to upload their music directly onto the streaming platform through their Spotify For Artists account, the company announced. […] For those artists who control their copyrights and do not have label or distribution agreements in place, they can log into their Spotify For Artists account, upload their music, fill in relevant metadata information, preview how the upload will look on their page and set the song to go live at a pre-scheduled time
Gene Maddaus, writing at Variety:
A female sales executive sued Spotify on Tuesday, alleging that the head of sales took his staff on drug-fueled “boys’ trips” to the Sundance Film Festival, and excluded women who were better qualified.
Hong Perez filed suit in New York Supreme Court, accusing the streaming company of systemically discriminating against female employees. Perez alleges that her boss, Brian Berner, selected an all-male group to attend Sundance in 2016 and 2017, and that some of the men got into a physical altercation during one of the trips.
Amy X. Wang, writing at Rolling Stone:
A common gripe among Spotify users is that the app limits the number of songs that can be downloaded to phones and computers for offline listening (3,333 tracks per device, with a three-device limit, to be exact). In its latest software update, the streaming service has quietly increased the limit threefold.
A number of power-users first noticed that they were able to save more than 3,333 songs this week, and the Swedish streaming giant confirmed the change on Wednesday to Rolling Stone.
A well deserved finally.
Ben Sisario, writing at The New York Times:
Over the last year, the 12-year-old company has quietly struck direct licensing deals with a small number of independent artists. The deals give those artists a way onto the streaming platform and a closer relationship to the company — an advantage when pitching music for its influential playlists — while bypassing the major labels altogether.
Although the deals are modest — with advance payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to several people involved — the big record companies see the Spotify initiative as a potential threat: a small step that, down the line, could reshape the music business as it has existed since the days of the Victrola.
This feels inevitable. At some point these digital streaming services will have better algorithms for figuring out what music is not only going to be universally popular but also own the distribution method to help make it so. At that point, what’s the point of a record label?
Spotify have released their list of the most streamed songs this summer.
Davey Alba, writing at BuzzFeed:
Since at least 2012, Spotify users like Meghan have been asking the music streaming giant for a block feature for a simple reason: Over the years, harassers and abusers have used the service to stalk and intimidate victims. […] A company representative told BuzzFeed News that Spotify “does not have any timeline on plans for a block feature.”
Hannah Karp, writing for Billboard:
Under the terms of some of the deals, management firms can receive several hundred thousand dollars as an advance fee for agreeing to license a certain number of tracks by their independent acts directly to Spotify. Then, in at least some cases, the managers and acts stand to earn 50 percent of the revenue per stream on those songs on Spotify. That’s slightly less than the 54 percent of revenue the major record labels in the U.S. get per stream, on average, according to Billboard’s calculations, but major-label artists and their managers typically receive only 20 percent to 50 percent of the label’s share, depending on an act’s individual royalty rates, and don’t usually get to own their master recordings.
Dan Rys, writing at Billboard:
Three weeks after Spotify announced a new policy regarding hate content and hateful conduct on its service, the company is walking back one of its most controversial provisions. In a blog post published today (June 1), the company said it was moving away from its “hateful conduct” provision, which had led to the service removing the music of R. Kelly, XXXTentacion and Tay-K from its editorial and algorithmic owned and operated playlists.
“We created concern that an allegation might affect artists’ chances of landing on a Spotify playlist and negatively impact their future,” the post reads. “Some artists even worried that mistakes made in their youth would be used against them. That’s not what Spotify is about.”
Not what Spotify is about? Hm, well, maybe it should be.
Lucas Shaw, writing at Bloomberg:
Facing a rebellion among artists and even some of its own employees, Spotify Technology SA will partially walk back a move to punish musicians for their personal misconduct.
The music-streaming giant has told artists, managers and record-label executives that it will eventually restore songs by XXXTentacion to playlists, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company’s top executives are talking to the music industry and civil-rights activists about how and when to adjust its rules in a manner suitable to both sides.
I stopped being surprised when companies show their spineless side a long time ago, but this is some eye-rolling bullshit right here. You can choose what kind of platform you want to be and when you are the size of Spotify you can choose how you want to wield your editorial-power.