Spotify is slamming the brakes on its ambitious direct upload and distribution plans.
Spotify’s ambitious expansion into artist distribution is now being abruptly shut down.
According to an email sent to artists participating in its beta-stage launch, the program is now being transitioned to other distributors. Accordingly, participating artists have less than 30 days to transition their content to another distributor, or lose their Spotify placements and accompanying play counts, playlist positions, and metadata.
“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,” Spotify stated. “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.”
Roughly 9 months ago, Spotify launched its direct upload program and outlined plans to start distributing artist content as well.
The program coincided with a major investment in distributor Distrokid, and allowed artists to directly upload their material onto Spotify.
The concept sent shockwaves into the music distribution sector. For starters, the direct upload program threatened to bypass established distributors, all of whom count Spotify as one of their most important endpoints. Even worse, Spotify was potentially offering the entire direct upload concept for free, and almost certainly undercutting standalone distributor pricing.
Even more threatening was a plan by Spotify — lightly sketched — to distribute artists to other streaming platforms as well. Layer in better payouts, and the death knell was already being rung for a raft of music distributors.
Fortunately or unfortunately — depending on where you sit — it looks like Spotify is hanging up its hat on this one.
After running the nine-month beta trial, Spotify came to the conclusion that the program didn’t make sense.
Maybe a few distribution executives are quietly laughing to themselves — last year, more than a few distribution sources were wondering if Spotify was seriously underestimating the tasks involved in distribution. Now, it looks like immense chores involved, including encoding, metadata, and customer service, proved overwhelming.
Beyond that, some business and tactical issues may have also emerged. One glaring problem may have been Apple Music, for example. After all, would Apple Music accept music distributed by Spotify?
Running the backend on a lot of this was Distrokid, though it’s unclear how that partnership played out in the beta. Theoretically, Distrokid would be handling the ‘blocking and tackling’ involved in distribution, though perhaps Spotify still found it difficult to scale the expansion or make the numbers make sense.
Here’s the ‘sorry’ note sent to participating artists this morning, and forwarded to Digital Music News.
A sad day for me as I’m writing to let you know that at the end of this month, the Spotify for Artists upload beta will come to an end. Over the past year, we learned a lot from independent artists about how they release music, and we realized we can serve you best by focusing on tools that you can only get from Spotify and by continuing to work closely with distributors to improve the experience of delivering music to Spotify for all artists and labels.
Both as a company and speaking from my own perspective – we’re incredibly grateful to you and the other artists that participated in the beta. Spotify wouldn’t be what it is today without artists and teams who’re willing to collaborate with us to build a better experience for creators and listeners. You can check out the Spotify for Artists blog to learn more about why we’re making this decision.
Here’s what you need to know:
*All music released through the beta will come down on July 30 and the final royalties will be paid in August.
*You’ll need to redeliver your content through another distributor before July 30 to prevent any gaps when your music is not available to fans and to ensure your Spotify play count and playlist placements will not be affected.
*Be sure to log into Spotify for Artists to download your ISRC codes and any royalty information that you’ll need for your records.
*If you were testing out the Canvas looping visual product, you do not need to re-upload it. As long as you deliver the product with the same audio and ISRC our system will track-link it to the old product, retaining play counts, playlisting, and Canvas.
*As a formality, please be advised that this email constitutes our 30 day notice to you that we are terminating the Spotify Content License Agreement.
I’m here to help with this transition, so please read along and check out these FAQs for more details, or reach out to me directly with any specific questions.
I assume you already used an artist aggregator partner to deliver this content to all other DSPs, but if you do need a new service we’ve arranged for discounts with the distributors in our Preferred Provider Program.
Distrokid: Get unlimited uploads for as little as $1 for your first year at (more details here)
CD Baby: Get a dedicated Creator Services rep and free distribution with code: Spotify2CDBaby. Details at
EmuBands: Get your first release free at www.emubands.com/spotify/. Use promo code SFA when registering before Sept 1, 2019.
Or reach out to our support team if you need additional assistance redelivering your content to the distributor of your choice.
Once again, a massive thank you for trusting us with your time, input, and art. While this program is ending our goal to help artists of all sizes find their fanbases will not.
Shortly after this email was sent, Spotify also posted this bulletin on its blog.
We’re Closing the Upload Beta Program. Here’s What Artists Need to Know:
JUL 01, 2019
Almost a year ago, we started to beta test a feature that lets independent artists upload their music directly to Spotify. Today, we notified participating artists about our decision to close the beta program, along with how we can help them migrate their music to other distributors over the next month.
The insights and feedback we received from artists in the beta led us to believe:
*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. 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.
*The best way for us to serve artists and labels is to focus our resources on developing tools in areas where Spotify can uniquely benefit them — like Spotify for Artists (which more than 300,000 creators use to gain new insight into their audience) and our playlist submission tool (which more than 36,000 artists have used to get playlisted for the very first time since it launcheda year ago). We have a lot more planned here in the coming months.
We’re working with our distribution partners to help make this transition as simple as possible for the artists who uploaded music through the beta. At the end of this month, we’ll stop accepting any new uploads through Spotify for Artists, and artists will need to move their already released content to another provider.
Artists who have released music in the beta should review our FAQs and keep an eye on their email for more details — including discount codes from our preferred distributors. They can reach out to our dedicated customer support team for personalized assistance.
Thank you to the artists who participated in our upload beta. 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.
Spotify is one big mess!