Spotify and BandPage have announced a partnership that will bring BandPage's digital storefront to the market-leading subscription streaming music service and its 40 million users.
The deal will allow the 500,000-plus artists using the BandPage platform to list merchandise -- widely defined as everything from t-shirts to secret shows, all access concert passes and other exclusive artist-to-fan offers -- in the Spotify player, offering direct commercial potential on the platform.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for an artist to sell the merch they already have," Mark Williamson, director of artist services for Spotify, tells Billboard. "Less of a walled garden, but more 'What have you got to engage?'"
Spotify has been criticized for some time now for offering a low-cost or free alternative to purchasing music while paying out what some artists have deemed unfairly low royalty rate on each stream, though these rates are some ways determined by artists' contracts. (To highlight the situation, and benefit itself, the band Vulfpeck cleverly (and cheekily) took advantage of the streaming service's system with a silent album that earned it about $20,000.) But here, Williamson says Spotify won't be taking any cut of sales or fees from sales through the deal. "There's no commissions or fees on Spotify's side -- we're presenting the opportunity to drive revenue and engagements," says Williamson.
"Our mission has always been to help artists grow revenue. This is an amazing opportunity to do that," J Sider, founder and CEO of BandPage, tells Billboard.
Beyond selling music or T-shirts, Williamson and Sider said they were both most excited about the potential for optimization and development outside of those tried and true sales items.
"At BandPage, as we cover different platforms and sites around the web, we're really focused on what sells to this type of customer," says Sider. "What kind of mood are they in, what kind of moment?"
BandPage has built a matrix to understand what sells best on various platforms -- from Facebook to SoundCloud to Xbox Music -- says Sider, and Spotify is the next step.
"Let's look at all the different types of things musicians can sell, online concerts, passes -- whether the biggest artist or an up-and-comer. A Nielsen study that said there's a $2.6 billion opportunity to sell direct experience to their fans selling these new types of products to your fans at scale. We're adding an optimization layer to that, so we can statistically prove that there is an 'exact right offer.' The different variables we consider are things like the copy, the display, price, what type of product -- depending on where in the world and at what time. What really brought us together was thinking about that next step, how do we turn this on for musicians?"
Sider said BandPage already analyzes data to see what items get the most attention on various platforms, and conveys that knowledge to its musicians to help them increase their revenues. Both services will be closely looking at what works here as the partnered service launches with a number of curated offers coinciding with the launch, as well as whatever else picks up traction in the days to come.
Some of those early adaptors are Porter Robinson (who's offering an opportunity for a meeting and to receive a prop from his "Lionhearted" video), Miranda Lambert (a one-of-a-kind koozie and t-shirt bundle), Ariana Grande (a pre-sale and exclusive online concert offer), Tea Leaf Green (a song collaboration with members of the band) and Stone Foxes (pre-show soundcheck parties).
"If, a couple months down the line, what we're seeing is that 'instant gratification' merch, online stuff like a private show, we're seeing that that's far outselling things like t-shirts, we can turn around to artists and communicate that," says Williamson.