Artists Can Sell Merch And Experiences Through Spotify via BandPage

To say it was a headache to try to get merch listed on Spotify through Topspin’s ArtistLink is an understatement. Since Spotify announced this partnership with Topspin this past December, I’ve been attempting to get merch listed on my Spotify artist profile. To no avail. I even worked with someone at Spotify directly to streamline this process. No luck.

So when Spotify announced their partnership with BandPage today to allow the sale of merch and experiences on artist profiles, I breathed an 8 month sigh of relief.

As of today, any artist around the world can get their merch and experiences listed on their Spotify profiles.

Neither Spotify nor BandPage Takes A Commission of Artists’ Merch Sold Through Spotify

+Why BandPage Is Going To Be The Most Powerful Player In Music

BandPage started as a Facebook integration tool for musicians back in 2010. They have since evolved to be the preeminent artist hub in digital connectivity. Artists can upload photos, music, bio information, shows, videos, merch and “experiences” to their BandPage account and BandPage seamlessly integrates it to outlets that fans interact with daily, like YouTube, Rdio, Rhapsody, Shazam, iHeartRadio, Google, SongMeanings, Xbox, and now Spotify.

Thousands of artists currently offer experiences and specialized merch through their BandPage profiles, like meet and greets, soundcheck passes, autographed guitars, and pre-show guitar lessons and ping pong tournaments.

Mark Williamson, Director of Artist Services for Spotify, mentioned to me on the phone this morning:

“We see a huge opportunity, not only for the artist, but for the fan as well. You can discover your new favorite artist within Spotify. You can explore their catalog, but now you can also check out their merch table. The position that we’re in to do this, with the engagement that we have on Spotify, is unprecedented.” – Mark Williamson, Director of Artist Services for Spotify

With today’s launch, thousands of artists have already gotten their merch and experiences listed on their Spotify profiles. Ariana Grande is offering access to an exclusive online concert. Miranda Lambert is selling a beer coozie/T-shirt combo. Porter Robinson is selling the mask that was featured in his new music video, along with a meet and greet. The Stone Foxes are offering a pre-show, sound check experience. And Tea Leaf Green’s drummer and producer is selling an opportunity to collaborate with him on a track at his studio.


BandPage CEO J Sider explained to me this morning:

“Our main goal, and the reason I started this company, is to increase revenue for musicians and help grow their audience” – J Sider, CEO, BandPage

With BandPage’s 500,000 artists and Spotify’s 40 million users, both Williamson and Sider mentioned that they are excited to analyze the data over the coming months and see what is selling best on Spotify. Williamson mentioned, “If we find out that instant gratification merch works really well, like an online concert, and t-shirts (or something that has to come through the post) isn’t working as well, we can then start to advise artists on that.”

BandPage normally takes 15% commission on experiences and merch sold directly through the BandPage platform, but Sider explained that he is happy to forgo this commission (on items sold directly through Spotify) to help artists reach a larger audience – and of course get more artists to signup for BandPage in the process. To clarify, if a fan purchases an item on Spotify, the artist gets 100% of that sale, if a fan purchases the same item on BandPage, the artist gets 85%.

Spotify has never taken a commission from artist’s merch integrated via Topspin’s ArtistLink or via BandPage. Williamson affirmed, “if we can deliver value to artists and to our users, there’s no reason for us to be taking cuts out of this.”

Williamson said that artists who have their merch currently listed on Spotify via Topspin’s ArtistLink will still be able to continue selling it that way. But why would they? BandPage will get any artist’s merch listed on Spotify in 3 days. And artists can update that at anytime.

With the obscenely low streaming royalties earned from platforms like Spotify (with many of those royalties never actually making it back to the artist), it’s nice to see Spotify exploring alternative ways to help get artists paid through their platform. Spotify lists that they pay out about $.006-.0084 per stream, but according to many artist’s royalty statements, this is not entirely accurate. From my own analysis of various artists’ Spotify royalty reports (mine included), it seems that the average rate (to the independent artist at least) seems to linger around $.004 (or less) per play. I don’t have internal access to Spotify’s data and would be curious to see the difference in royalty rates paid to major label artists versus independent ones. Or the difference in rates between artists getting millions of streams and thousands. The question, though, is why does Spotify list a royalty range when so many artists fall below it? Why list a range at all? Why not just list an average rate of one number? These questions may never be answered. But at least Spotify is working on ways to get artists paid through their platform aside from streaming royalties – as that seems to be a lost cause.

+Can This Company Save Streaming… And The (Independent) Music Industry?

With interactive artist profiles, a concert calendar and now a merch store, Spotify is providing the fan a full artist experience that iTunes has been too arrogant to ever consider.

Back in 2010 iTunes botched a promising service, Ping, when it positioned it as a social networking system and not an artist/fan bridge. iTunes officially killed Ping in 2012. Today, iTunes outfits artist profiles with photos and concert listings for only the labels who have a direct relationship with iTunes. Independents and DIYers? Forget about it.

Spotify is quickly figuring out that if it provides the fan a better experience and helps generate more income for the artist, it will win the music platform war.

The companies that develop their platforms with the DIY and independent artists in mind are the ones who will succeed in the long run. The companies that are trapped in the old system, pandering to the big labels, and don’t realize the importance (and power) of the new independent musician, will be left behind.

“We see this huge opportunity that really sets Spotify apart. We have people coming back to Spotify to explore artist pages time and time again. Whereas our focus is on paying royalties and the way music is streamed, there’s obviously this huge opportunity when it comes to ticketing, merchandise and other areas of an artist’s life,” Williamson remarked.

Spotify doesn’t currently offer ticketing, but it seems they are looking into integrating this soon.

Starting today, any artist can offer merch and experiences on their Spotify artist page by setting it up through BandPage.

“The traditional merch table at the gig has been dragged into the digital world [and artists] are still doing a lot of the same things [digitally] that they were doing [at the gig] on their merch table, but I think the opportunity is much larger than that. There are a lot of artists who have been doing really interesting stuff so now that we can work with a partner like BandPage with our 40 million users, I think we can update what the merch table looks like in the digital world. ” -Mark Williamson, Director of Artist Services for Spotify.

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake

52 Responses

  1. Versus

    This backwards “income” system only devalues music further. Instead of music, now it’s the future-landfull junk and mostly silly and often non-musical “experience” that is valued. Many music creators do not tour, do not sell trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts, but just want a proper pay scale for their music.

    This is all good and fine as an additional source of income, but the first priority is still to properly revalue music.

    • GGG

      Yes, because only money coming from music counts as real money….

      Get over yourself, old man. It’s 2014, shit’s changed. Embrace the fact that culture likes some shit you don’t, and make some money off of it.

      Or just bitch about it, drive your blood pressure up, and alienate everyone in the pursuit of making a dumb point.

          • Jaded Industry Dude

            Yes, GGG is an asshole. Yes, GGG is definitely correct with his statement. Versus’ statement was valid 20 years ago.

          • TuneHunter

            Music does not have to be free and will not be free! There is no reason to look for cash in T-sherts.
            Music ID MOOCHES like Shazam, Soundhound and Google (both voice & lyrics) with over 2 billion users have to be evicted from music house.

            Next day Radio and streaming can be converted to simple music stores.
            Industry would double to $30B in 24 month and Shazam would be able to drop pacifier and go for 3B IPO.

            All we need is new “fair use doctrine” to forcefully enlighten intoxicated by advertising Google to better business model.

      • steveh

        Versus said:- “This is all good and fine as an additional source of income, but the first priority is still to properly revalue music.”

        That’s not in any way a dumb point. It’s absolutely spot on!

        • GGG

          Why settle for just valuing the music? Put as much value in yourself as an artist as you can, or in my case, put as much value in the artists you work with. Whether we like it or not, people like dumb shit, like paying $500 for a meet and greet or $20 for an “ugly t-shirt” (which, he should really befriend more talented visual artist friends), or $5-15 for dumb trinkets.

          There reason I said it was dumb is because time and time again people, especially on here, dismiss completely viable options for making money because it doesn’t fit their desire to sit at home and release ten songs every 3 years.

          • steveh

            I’m not talking about people who “sit at home and release ten songs every 3 years” and neither is Versus.

            We’re talking about skilled creative professional musicians who make a living from live and recorded music. For them music is a passion, and it is infinitely preferable to make a living from that – pure and simple. It’s blindingly obvious. What an earth is wrong with that wish?

            In a way it’s like a professional actor who would far rather have an acting job that serving coffee at Starbucks.

            Can you not see this? We should be putting our energy into processes that boost and retain the value of music, not putting energy into selling trinkets and trash on crappy tech-shit web sites that are pulling down the value of music.

          • GGG

            No, it’s not like an actor working at Starbucks. This is exactly what I’m talking about. You people refuse to understand that selling stuff that isn’t music can still be OK. The music and musician are not separate things, so why not put value in both. It’s like an actor modeling an Omega watch or doing an appearance or having an action figure or producing a film. Merch has been part of the music business for decades. From stickers to posters to shirts to god knows what KISS monetized, stuff has always been sold, and people have always bought stuff. And you know what, you don’t have to make it shit! Have someone design a nice t-shirt, I’ve seen just as many great ones as I’ve seen ugly ones. Team up with *GASP,* other artists and create cool shit to sell. That’s creative, that’s fun. It’s not music but it’s also not selling coffee; far from it.

            You only want to do musical stuff? Ok…then make the “experiences” musical! Write a song for someone for $1K, go play in someone’s living room for $5k, do whatever the fuck you want to do that involves playing music and let people pay you for it. Because they will (if you actually have fans). Nobody is sitting at home 24/7 writing music. Make use of the time. This is another prime example of people on this site flat out refusing to acknowledge life can exist beyond an album sale.

          • steveh

            Perhaps you can answer this – I also asked Ari:-

            Can you sell CDs on a Spotify/Bandpage store? They talk about selling Tshirts, posters and vinyl – what about CDs?

          • GGG

            I’m assuming a CD will be shot down in the approval step, but I have no idea.

          • Me

            I haven’t tried linking solely to CDs, but the way topspin is set up for Spotify Merch I think it should work. All Topspin does is put a link that you provide on the artist page. You can link to whatever store you want. We currently have a link to our website for an apparel + CD bundle.

          • Ari Herstand
            Ari Herstand

            Absolutely can sell CDs. The first three items you have for sale on BandPage will be the 3 listed on Spotify. I just got my DVD/CD package listed on my Spotify store. Got up in a day!

          • steveh

            Thanks Ari – that is definitely a step in the right direction

          • dude

            @GGG if you think about it it makes no difference to Spotify whether you buy the music and listen to it someplace else after streaming it, if you’re a subscriber they’ll still get your monthly fee and if not they’ll still get their ad money

          • jbananananda

            Because the point of being a musician is to create and play music. If you expect more from them order to value them, you’re asking them to be more than musicians. I’m guessing it’s because you need more friends.

    • Mike Repel

      “Many music creators do not tour, do not sell trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts, but just want a proper pay scale for their music.”

      If these “music creators” don’t perform live and don’t tour then they shouldn’t have any realistic expectation of making any money at all.

      Well unless of course they live in a studio and make music library jingles all day.

      Trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts fill the gas tank and feed the band. – this is not a statement that any musician I know would make.

    • Mike Repel

      “Many music creators do not tour, do not sell trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts, but just want a proper pay scale for their music.”

      If these “music creators” don’t perform live and don’t tour then they shouldn’t have any realistic expectation of making any money at all.

      Well unless of course they live in a studio and make music library jingles all day.

      Trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts fill the gas tank and feed the band.
      “Many music creators do not tour, do not sell trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts” – this is not a statement that any musician I know would make.

      • indie dude

        what I meant to say is what Versus said “This backwards “income” system only devalues music further. Instead of music, now it’s the future-landfull junk and mostly silly and often non-musical “experience” that is valued. Many music creators do not tour, do not sell trinkets, gimmicks, and ugly t-shirts, but just want a proper pay scale for their music.

        This is all good and fine as an additional source of income, but the first priority is still to properly revalue music.”

    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      now it’s the future-landfull junk…

      There is an environmental issue tied to merchandising, and actually, Zöe Keating is one artist that has refrained from selling merchandise in the past partly because of environmental concerns. I’m not sure how long she can protect that idea if she runs into economic realities related to the decline of the recording, but it’s worth noting.

      It would be really interesting to see an environmental impact study that looked at the possible benefits the environment has gained through the demise of the CD (and all its itinerant plastic and physical junk). Sounds like the footprint for the music industry should be going down, though studies related to the environmental impact of the cloud, not to mention ultimately-disposable smartphones, headphones, tablets, and computers make the analysis a lot more complicated.

    • hippydog

      Quote “This is all good and fine as an additional source of income, but the first priority is still to properly revalue music”

      The problem is.. its bloody hard to put a ‘standard’ value on music anymore.
      it was easy with CD’s
      All shiny disks were worth around $15 or more..
      not so much now..

      And it continued with downloads.. all tracks $1.00 .. doesn’t make a lot sense.. why is the music that’s insanely popular or really good, is the SAME price as the stuff that isn’t..

      I dont think the problem is that music doesn’t have a value..

      I think the problem is that you can’t FORCE a value on it..

      • Jon

        Great point. Once upon a time people knew if an album/cd was coming out they could set aside $15 to get it…not the case anymore…

      • TuneHunter

        You can not FORCE value on air! Same for music – as long as all music ID services (with over 2 billion users) are free to operate and divulge name of the tune or artist music will be like air!

        In the era of internet name of the tune equals FULL OWNERSHIP and it HAS TO CHANGE for the benefit of the musicians and confused, lost and purposeless music ID services!

        Just like musicians they are all losers except for Google voice and lyric ID making it from ads.

  2. john

    been doing this through topspin for months, wasn’t that difficult…

    not improving sales at all. but good to see that they’ve also recently rolled it out to the mobile app. only a matter of time until apple bans the app because it links to external sites, or at least that they threaten spotify.

    • Me

      I agree. It’s a pretty simple process. Just sign in through Twitter and add links to wherever your merch is available (your website, or a third party website).

  3. Anonymous

    “Artists Can Sell Merch And Experiences Through Spotify”

    Well, that doesn’t change the fact that audio-only streaming is useless for artists.

    Spotify needs to add video if wants to survive. And not only music videos. Dancing cats, too.

  4. Jed Cohen

    One benefit of this deal is that it will be harder to pull the plug on BandPage now.

  5. Bernier

    Can someone explain why spotify’s royalty rate isn’t the same for everyone? Like it is in radio? Seems illegal to me.

    • GGG

      Because some people (labels) invested assloads of money into it.

      I’d like it to be uniform at closer to .08-1 cent, which I think it could potentially get to. Payouts for my acts already range from a tenth of a penny to over a cent.

    • Ari Herstand
      Ari Herstand

      Any interactive streaming company can set whatever per-stream royalty rate they see fit. There is no law regulating this. There is a law (in the US) regulating mechanical and performance royalties (for songwriters paid by Spotify TO Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), then HFA and the PROs pay the songwriters/publishers). There’s also a law for non-interactive digital royalties (digital radio, non-interactive means you can’t choose the song), paid TO the performers on a recording and TO the record labels that own the recording (not the song) paid by SoundExchange, but there’s no law that forces a an INTERACTIVE streaming service (like Spotify) to pay a certain per-stream royalty rate. Just like there’s no law forcing iTunes to pay 70% of each sale. iTunes chose to do this. They could have chosen to pay 90%, 50% or 5%. But they chose 70%. Spotify claims to pay 70% out to “rights holders,” but those rights holders include major labels who own a piece of Spotify. They have not broken down exactly how that 70% is paid out and to whom.

      The only way Spotify was able to launch in as many countries as it has (with the catalog it has) was by striking individual deals with major labels which gave these labels large advances up front (for their entire catalog) and gave them ownership in the company. Because of this, the per-stream royalty rates for the indies got pretty darn low (because Spotify ran out of money). Spotify has set different royalty rates with every label and distributor it has a deal with. Eventually, they look to make that rate uniform throughout the platform (like iTunes pays 70% to every distributor/label, no matter what ).

  6. lipservice

    You cannot sell downloads. Link to your Bandcamp page? Forbidden. Tshirts only.

    • Kevin Wyatt

      To clarify: Physical media permitted; a la carte digital downloads and bundles containing downloads permitted too, with a couple exceptions. Bandcamp 100% ok. We’ll review our FAQ to see if this topic can be better articulated.

      • steveh

        It’s hardly a couple of exceptions. I saw this on yr FAQ:-

        Offers will be rejected that include buy links or inline URLs (e.g., in the descriptive text) delivering users to:
        iTunes or Apple
        Nokia Radio
        Xbox Music
        Google Play
        BandCamp (for digital downloads -physical CDs & Vinyl are ok)
        CD Baby (for digital downloads- physical CD’s & Vinyl are ok)

        • Kevin Wyatt

          We are revising the FAQ; current version is inaccurate and I apologize for the confusion (my error)

          Permitted stores (that are currently incorrectly listed on our site as disallowed) include Bandcamp, CDbaby and 7digital. Amazon ok for merch and physical but not digital. Other examples of disallowed sites: iTunes and YouTube.

          Rule of thumb: if the store is part of a service that directly competes with Spotify we will probably reject the offer.

          Worth noting this restriction is specific to Spotify. This does not preclude you from adding offers that link to Spotify-disallowed services to your Store for syndication to our other commerce partners eg Rhapsody; they just won’t display on Spotify.

          Again, apology for the confusion – this was my error.

  7. Blast jacket

    Here is the merchandise equation

    Customer loyalty + item = sale

    I’d be curious to see how many bands on Bandcamp have large enough customer loyalty groups to earn a sustainable living. Companies like Musictoday ( recently sold) and rGenerator are struggling to make sales and they work with some of the largest band storefronts. Bandcamp, like Reverbnation, offer tools to artists and make for a good investor pitch but I don’t see a lot of breakout artists coming from these platforms

  8. Willis

    This isn’t breaking any new ground, but in usual music/tech style they shout it from the rooftops as if they just invented sliced bread.

  9. math

    95% of Artists don’t have more than 1,000 Fans

    95% of Fans don’t have Spotify

    95% of Fans don’t buy merch

    95% of merch that is sold gets sold at shows

    This won’t drive much value for anyone. The fact that neither Spotify nor Bandpage is taking a cut should be a strong signal that neither one expects much actual activity. But, with the help of Ari Herstand and other lemmings that publish first and ask questions never, lots of artists will signup for BandPage and hope that someone will buy something. They will be disappointed. Remember Snocap?

    Ari, be a real help to indie musicians and put your merch on spotify and then report back how much you’ve sold each month. Also, run some experiences on band page and report back after you’ve done 5 of them.

    My guess is that Ari will do no such thing. He will not accept this challenge. He is afraid to stand behind his own predictions that these companies are the saviors of the music industry. And he should be afraid, because he couldn’t be more wrong.

    • Me

      “People can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that” – Homer Simpson

    • Randy Nichols (@forcemm)

      I don’t get the haters, a new platform is open to try and sell merch on. It’s one more spot for artists to set up shop. You can’t control who or how many will buy but at least you’re allowed to show my wares for minimal work and no fee. If I sell 5% more merch a month that’s a win, not a life changer but it’s still more than before.

      All artists should be trying to sell merch on tour, in retail and online and the smart ones should be looking for as many storefronts as possible.

      PS I’ve been critical of BandPage in past posts but this is a great move for them, Spotify and artists in general.

  10. Remixlab

    The music industry is laughable and everybody is a star.

    “Hey Facebook and Twitter fans of ME! My little brother just designed some t-shirts for my band–which is really just ME–and you can look at them, and not buy them, on MY Spotify artist page. By they way, if you do go there to check ’em out, could you actually listen to a song of MINE this time? My last royalty check was for, like, $1.37 and I still owe my little brother $18.63, so yeah… “

    • GGG

      The thing is, people like this don’t count as being in the music industry. As much as the internet tore down most barriers of entry to potentially having a career, we can’t keep conflating shit local bands with 5 fans to actual active acts with legit fanbases. It’d be like comparing little league players to MLB and saying a 12 year old sucks compared to Derek Jeter. What’s the point?

      People like this can complain about Spotify all the want, but shit like that is the only reason they can put their music on the same platform as people like Beyonce in the first place.

      • blastjacket

        So what is the % of “little league players” vs “Derek Jeters” on these platforms?

  11. hippydog

    Quote “Spotify is quickly figuring out that if it provides the fan a better experience and helps generate more income for the artist, it will win the music platform war.”

    They are JUST now figuring that out? LOL

    I am blown away on how many new ‘music’ tech services do not understand that very simple concept..

  12. Anonymous

    TIL Carl Sagan wanted to include the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” on the golden record sent into space on the Voyager spacecrafts. The Beatles said yes, EMI said no.


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