Spotify Retaliating Against Apple Music Exclusive Artists, Execs Say…

  • Save

Spotify says it isn’t true.  But multiple executives and reports accuse the company of actively sabotaging and punishing artists signing Apple Music exclusives.

Spotify is flatly denying reports that it is actively sabotaging against artists securing Apple Music exclusives, including plans to downgrade two just-released Frank Ocean albums.  A media representative for Spotify was damage controlling Friday afternoon, calling the accusations ‘unequivocally false,’ despite serious accusations from both Bloomberg, the New York Times, and multiple major label sources.

The Times dropped the bombshell after digging into the Frank Ocean situation, one that is actively causing the music industry to reinvestigate their practices around exclusives.  “Executives at two major record labels said that in recent weeks Spotify, which has resisted exclusives, had told them that it had instituted a policy that music that had benefited from such deals on other services would not receive the same level of promotion once it arrived on Spotify,” Sisario wrote.  “Such music may not be as prominently featured or included in as many playlists, said these executives…”

Bloomberg piled on, calling out Spotify’s ‘retaliation’ against any artist inking an Apple Music exclusive.  Spotify has eschewed exclusives, calling the practice bad for the industry, though Apple has been pouring cash to secure one plum artist after another.  “Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won’t be able to get their tracks on featured playlists once the songs become available on Spotify,” Bloomberg claimed.

“Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify.”

But this goes deeper than high-flying superstars like Frank Ocean, Beyonce, and Drake.  According to Bloomberg sources, developing artists are also facing punishments for simply debuting music on Beats 1, the radio component to Apple Music.  “The company has threatened to use its retaliatory practices on lesser-known artists who introduce music on a Beats One show hosted by DJ Zane Lowe, an architect of Apple’s radio service,” the report continued.

Both publications are also reporting that Universal Music Group chieftain Lucian Grainge is calling for an end to streaming exclusives, a move that closely follows a disastrous effort involving Frank Ocean.  But that wouldn’t prevent artists from striking independent deals with Apple Music, and that’s exactly what Frank Ocean shrewdly negotiated just last week.

More as this develops.


3 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    TIME TO STOP fruitless streaming shenanigans!

    All inclusive streaming no mater who is providing it KILLS $200B of music goodwill obvious to an IDIOT.

    UMG who created current status quo should have some honor and START TO
    Limit of streaming and YouTube style pulverization is at $25B and it will not happen sooner than 2025.

    100,000 Radio station music stores can do $100B by 2020.



    The arms race is doing nothing for the product (e.g. art AKA music). The more you devalue the product, the less money all of these streaming platforms (businesses) will make in the long run. Again, musicians and artists are at the mercy of digital technology. You’d think the whole Napster / MP3 era people would have learned their lesson, but no one has.

    You can’t blame the artists for actually wanting to get paid for their music. They see an opportunity for a pay day, and they’re grabbing them. These types of opportunities feel few and far between in today’s industry, and you can’t blame them. However, maybe it comes back to a model of the industry which has been dying for ages anyway: selling music D2C….

  3. DavidB

    “Spotify has eschewed exclusives, calling the practice bad for the industry”

    Hang on a minute, when did Spotify say that?? Spotify *pioneered* streaming exclusives with artists like Led Zeppelin and Metallica, and boasted about it. Have they changed their policy? If so when? Maybe when they discovered they were no longer the biggest bully in the schoolyard?
    [Added: I did find this recent quote from a Spotify exec: We’re not really in the business of paying for exclusives, because we think they’re bad for artists and they’re bad for fans,” Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s head of communications told me. “Artists want as many fans as possible to hear their music, and fans want to be able to hear whatever they’re excited about or interested in — exclusives get in the way of that for both sides. Of course, we understand that short promotional exclusives are common and we don’t have an absolute policy against them, but we definitely think the best practice for everybody is wide release.” Which I translate as meaning: We’ll use exclusives as often as we can get them, while criticising others for doing the same.]