Spotify has announced a new beta feature that will allow independent artists to upload their music directly to the platform instead of through a label or digital aggregator. Normally, artists who aren’t signed to a major label (which can directly upload music to Spotify) have to pay a fee to a third-party service like Tunecore to upload their music to Spotify. The upload feature will be contained within the service’s existing Spotify for Artists platform, which, among other things, allows artists to view data about their listeners and directly submit their songs for editorial playlist consideration.
The new upload feature won’t work like SoundCloud, where songs can be instantly available. Instead, Spotify views it as a way for artists to have control over their own music in advance of its release date. Those who are part of the program will be shown an interface where they can upload their music and accompanying artwork, pick a release day, input additional information (like if it’s a single or an album), and then preview how it will look once published. Direct upload is being offered as a free service.
The company recommends artists in the program upload content at least five days ahead of the planned release, which will help Spotify make sure that it doesn’t contain potentially infringing content. It will also cross-check to make sure the same content isn’t being delivered to Spotify through other partners (avoiding duplicates), and it will allow artists to utilize Spotify’s built-in analytics and page customization tools.
Regarding payments for the artists who upload directly to Spotify, Kene Anoliefo, senior product lead for Spotify’s creator marketplace, tells The Verge that the company will offer artists 50 percent of Spotify’s net revenue and 100 percent of royalties for the songs they upload. “We created a pretty simple and fair deal for uploading music where artists receive 50 percent of Spotify’s net revenue, and Spotify also accounts to publishers and collection societies for additional royalties related to the musical composition,” Anoliefo said. “Artists will receive automatic monthly royalty checks. They will be able to view all of that information and check all their data within Spotify for Artists.”
This is a pretty fair shake considering Spotify’s agreement with Universal Music Group sees a payout range of 52 to 55 percent. (An artist releasing through Universal Music Group would likely not see the entirety of this 52 to 55 percent, due to things like recoup costs and A&R eating into that figure.)
Spotify has been testing the feature for the past few months with artists like VIAA and Michael Brun. Despite today’s announcement, direct uploads are still only available for artists who have been invited by Spotify to participate. When asked when it will be open to all artists, Anoliefo says the company is still learning what artists want from the feature. “Right now, we’re still in the early stages of testing. Our plan is to first focus on learning from the artists, get their feedback, and then make future plans about how it will become available to more artists.”
Should Spotify eventually roll this out as a public feature, it could have a great impact on the indie music market, which has been burgeoning in the public eye, arguably since Chance the Rapper gave a shoutout to SoundCloud at the 2017 Grammys. Spotify is the biggest music subscription platform in the market, reporting 83 million paid subscribers as of July and a total base of around double that when including free accounts.