Spotify Ends Direct Upload Program, Leaving Distribution To Its Partners

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
The logo of the music streaming service Spotify is displayed on a smartphone on April 20, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. 

The program will cease accepting new uploads at the end of July.

Just shy of a year since its launch, Spotify is shutting down its upload beta program, which allows independent artists to load their music directly onto the platform for free.

The feature was met by a swift backlash last fall, as it effectively lets artists bypass traditional digital distributors when uploading to and collecting royalties from the streamer. But in a blog post published this morning (July 1), Spotify said it now plans to put that responsibility back into the hands of its distribution partners.

"The most impactful way we can improve the experience of delivering music to Spotify for as many artists and labels as possible is to lean into the great work our distribution partners are already doing to serve the artist community," the blog post reads. "Over the past year, we’ve vastly improved our work with distribution partners to ensure metadata quality, protect artists from infringement, provide their users with instant access to Spotify for Artists, and more."

Spotify, which cites feedback from artists in the beta program as reasoning for the shutdown, will cease accepting new uploads through Spotify for Artists at the end of the month. Meanwhile, the streamer will help artists who already have uploaded music through the beta migrate their work to another provider.

The decision to abandon its distribution efforts -- an already-crowded field in the music industry -- is part of an overall push at Spotify to focus on its more unique offerings, like its playlist submission tool and Spotify for Artists suite. While Spotify for Artists is for now a free service, the company plans to begin charging artists and labels for its tools in the future, building a two-sided marketplace for users and artists. (Spotify has yet to set a firm date for that change.)

"Thank you to the artists who participated in our upload beta," the post continues. "We’re incredibly proud to have played a small part in the music they released. Spotify wouldn’t be what it is today without artists and labels who are willing to collaborate with us to build a better experience for creators and listeners."

Leading independent distributor CD Baby said Spotify's decision to leave distribution reinforced the importance of likeminded content providers, and vowed to help any artists whose music is being removed as a result of the service's retirement.

"The end of Spotify’s Direct Upload business demonstrates the value that distributors like CD Baby contribute to the music ecosystem," said Jon Bahr, vp of creator services. "We’ve made a concerted effort to be the best content provider, allowing our partner platforms such as Spotify to focus their efforts on the listener experience, as well as growing the revenue base for rights holders. CD Baby has recently expanded our Creator Services team to offer more strategic resources to top independent artists. We’re excited to help anyone whose music is being removed from Spotify’s Direct Upload service, and we’re ready to make the most of both past and future releases."

Scott Ackerman, CEO of independent digital distributor TuneCore, weighed in as well. “TuneCore has worked with Spotify since day one, and we will continue to grow our artists’ reach and revenue opportunities on their platform," he shared. "We are committed to serving the needs of independent artists with distribution services to more than 150 digital stores and streaming services worldwide.”


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