As mentioned yesterday, we’ve been holding Spotify back from our regular means of distribution in favor of uploading directly.
Our label is a beta tester in Spotify’s direct upload program. There are a few hundred artists in the program, but it’s always expanding and you can apply to become a part of it here.
While uploading to both a general distributor and Spotify directly poses slight challenges organizationally (the time it takes to upload twice and accounting from multiple places), it’s worth it, and here’s why.
One of the best tools Spotify’s artist marketing team has been testing for over a year is the marquee.
A marquee alerts fans and followers new music is out from the artist. What better way to notify your hardcore fans about your new release than directly in the app where they listen to music? Hint: There isn’t one.
Marquees were provided editorially to few and far between priority releases (both at the major and independent level) prior to the birth of the direct upload feature.
As part of the beta program, users are able to test the ability to schedule a marquee for upcoming releases without having to receive the promotion from the artist marketing team.
One of the greatest challenges in our modern era is notifying your audience about what is going on… The #1 reason fans don’t go to shows is because they don’t know about them. The #1 reason they don’t listen to new music is because they didn’t hear about it coming out in the first place.
This problem magnifies the bigger an artist gets. As they grow, social media engagement decreases as a % of overall audience. This is the reason I’ve been advocating so hard for artists to capture fans phone numbers and for texting to be adopted by the music industry. You must own your data in order to own your future.
However, social platforms can do their part as well by:
1/enabling artists to actually reach users who have clearly identified they are fans
2/not holding artists to the same standards of paid media as they do other types of brands.
In a pre-marquee world, you would be notified about new releases from artists you follow or listen to regularly in your release radar (a brilliant invention, but still requires you sift through a playlist to find new releases from artists you follow) or in the upper corner of the desktop version… Following an artist had limited functionality, but now, following, as well as repeat listening, has inspired the birth of tools like marquees so discovery can happen in ways other than through a playlist.
The development of marquees assures your most avid listeners are always kept in the loop. For example, yesterday, Emmit Fenn released a gorgeous instrumental EP (part of it was actually the score to my wedding ceremony), and I was shocked on his instagram story at how many of his fans were rampantly sharing the project. Emmit’s fans are hyper engaged and at least some aspect of the virality of his latest release can be contributed to the marquee feature.
Spotify doesn’t charge any fees at this time for the direct upload functionality. However, it does gives 50% back to the uploading party (label or artist), whereas major label deals get 52.5% (which is competitive rates given to other distributors as well). The direct upload is one of the many strategic moves Spotify will make to continue to improve their margin, which will be necessary for them to achieve profitability (which is vital to all of us in the music business!).
As long as Spotify is developing tools such as marquees alongside this small decrease in revenue, I believe it’s well worth it.
After all, in this business, there is nothing more important than the fan and the connection between them and the artist.