Spotify does not share. The music streaming service is making quite clear the extent of its jealousy in the face of competitors like Apple Music. A Bloomberg report asserts that “Spotify has been retaliating against musicians who introduce new material exclusively” on other services.
Bloomberg’s sources, who are purportedly “people familiar with [Spotify’s] strategy,” further noted that these artists’ songs are made harder to find on Spotify, and the artists have been told that their songs won’t be included on featured playlists. Moreover, Bloomberg says, artists have “found their songs buried in the search rankings,” and, shockingly enough, this has apparently been going on for about a year.
The last few months have allegedly gotten particularly nasty for those who dare to break with Spotify, with artists who have given exclusives to either Tidal or Apple Music apparently targeted by these practices. The latter certainly serves as the biggest threat to Spotify’s music-streaming empire, boasting more than 15 million subscribers since it first hit the scene last June.
And while Spotify claims more than 30 million subscribers globally, Apple’s exclusive deals with popular musicians including Drake, Chance the Rapper, and Frank Ocean may be giving the Swedish company a serious run for its money.
Sure, such big name artists may not need the additional boost from Spotify, but for lesser-known musicians, Spotify’s practices may be a real cause for concern. After all, music fans often turn to Spotify’s curated playlists to discover new tunes. But exclusives, like those Apple depends upon, can be a bit limiting in and of themselves, forcing listeners to use a specific service. And it’s not just fans who are suffering — artists don’t seem to be that thrilled, either.
“The unprecedented run of exclusives by digital music services has put a tremendous strain on the relationship between artists and their record companies,” Larry Miller, an associate professor of music business at New York University’s Steinhardt School, told the New York Times with regard to Frank Ocean’s Blonde. “We are seeing that play out in public now.”
“Artists want to be fully empowered to control their careers, and they don’t want the old school to tell them what to do,” noted Doug Davis, a music industry lawyer. “Ultimately there has to be a resolution between the major labels and the artists that allows them to control their destinies and cash in on the financial opportunities that are out there.