Spotify has shut down its beta music uploading programme for unsigned artists

2 Jul 2019

Image: Casimiro_PT/Depositphotos

Spotify told artists who had participated in the beta upload programme that they were eligible for discount codes from the streaming service’s preferred distributors.

In September 2018, Swedish music streaming giant Spotify unveiled a new beta feature that allowed artists to upload their music directly to Spotify for free.

The feature enabled artists to bypass services such as TuneCore and DistroKid, which offer digital distribution to popular streaming services such as Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer and Spotify.

It was available by invitation only, with Spotify extending those invitations to a few hundred US-based independent artists, including American rapper Noname, who was the first artist to upload an album using the new feature.

In the blogpost announcing the feature, Spotify said: “Just like releasing through any other partner, you’ll get paid when fans stream your music on Spotify. Your recording royalties will hit your bank account automatically each month, and you’ll see a clear report of how much your streams are earning right next to the other insights you already get from Spotify for Artists. Uploading is free to all artists, and Spotify doesn’t charge you any fees or commissions, no matter how frequently you release music.”

The announcement was followed by numerous discussions on social media, music blogs and popular music sites such as Pitchfork about how – or if – this would change the game for unsigned artists in years to come.

While Pitchfork was critical of the power the move could potentially give Spotify, which is an already massive company with more than 100m paid subscribers, the online music magazine noted that the upload feature could result in a large return for artists who had success with it.

However, after less than a year Spotify has decided to shut down the beta upload tool. The company has warned those who use the feature that they have until the end of July 2019 to transition to another distributor, which left some artists frustrated.

According to TechCrunch, other artists were less bothered, as their feedback informed Spotify that “it didn’t make sense to upload directly to Spotify, then have to turn to another distribution tool to get their work on other services”.

Spotify’s blog explained: “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.”

It added: “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 launched a year ago). We have a lot more planned here in the coming months.”

Below its statement, Spotify told artists who had participated in the beta upload programme that they were eligible for discount codes from the streaming service’s preferred distributors. The distributors Spotify referred the affected artists to were DistroKid, CD Baby and EmuBands.

Since October 2018, Spotify has held a minor stake in DistroKid. Shortly after investing in the distribution company, Spotify announced plans to integrate DistroKid’s distribution services into Spotify for Artists. It’s possible that the overlap of services created here is the reason why the company now sees the beta uploading programme as redundant.

Spotify on a laptop screen. Image: Casimiro_PT/Depositphotos

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic