Spotify introduces Direct Upload – What This Means For You

New Features

Spotify is a paradise for music lovers all across the globe because you can play your favorite music there while constantly exploring new music. Now, Spotify has something new to offer as well!

This is for new artists who wish to have a platform for their music and want to get it out there in the world. Spotify has a new direct upload feature for those who wish to have their music available on the platform.

spotify playlist submission

Bypassing Labels and distributors

Spotify is in a state of consistent adaptation and evolution. As a music streaming service, it is necessary for it to be dynamic. The needs of its consumer base keep changing over time. Recently, Spotify released a new feature on their application on a trial basis. It allows independent artists to upload their own music directly to Spotify.

This feature would bypass the old system.  Artists no longer need to approach a label or a distributor. This was usually the main obstacle artists faced in ensuring that their music went out there in the world. This shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of Spotify starting its own record label.  It shouldn’t be viewed as the exact opposite either.

Free but invite only

It’s important to keep in mind that not just anyone can upload their music on Spotify. For now, the uploading option is only available through an invite-only beta feature for Artists platform. This includes around 200,000 verified users.  Which is only about 72 percent of all of Spotify’s music streams.

According to Spotify, more artists will have this option available to them over time. Currently, the biggest name to avail this option is a Chicago rapper called “Noname”. She has independently released her new album Room 25 on Spotify.

Chicago Rapper No Name Spotify Playlist Submission

Chicago Rapper – Noname

The big buzz is that this feature is currently being made available free of cost. This makes it highly appealing and attractive for many. Usually indie artists needed to release their music through an application such as TuneCore which costs a small amount of money, and sometimes, even a portion of your sales.

Spotify says that it won’t charge anything for now, and that one can keep their full amount of sales. Even better, is the fact that there is no limit on the amount of content an artist can upload. According to Spotify, “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 artist insights. Uploading is free to all artists, and Spotify doesn’t charge you any fees or commissions no matter how frequently you release music.”

Spotify vs Soundcloud & Bandcamp

However, Spotify is not alone in this niche. SoundCloud and Bandcamp have built their reputation through letting independent artists upload their music free of cost. This has been a crucial selling point. One big difference between Soundcloud and Spotify is that while SoundCloud is completely free for streamers. Spotify’s free streaming is time bound but high quality.

You can only listen for free for three hours after which you would have to purchase a subscription. Bandcamp, on the other hand, doesn’t charge its artists but requires a premium account to get consumer usage details. YouTube is completely free but has a stiff copyrights policy instead which makes it challenging for indie artists to reuse sample beats and loops in their music.

Spotify’s Content License Agreement

A question arises then: Will one own their own music when they upload it on Spotify? Artists usually don’t own the rights to their songs when they sign with a distribution company. This is why Spotify has had to repeatedly sign agreements with the Big Three labels to use their collections.

Spotify’s solution to this problem is a ‘content license agreement’ which uploaders would have to sign. However, Spotify hasn’t publicized its details as of yet. The aim of the agreement is to guarantee to artists that they will receive their royalties and that they are just allowing Spotify to stream their music. According to the New York times,

Spotify has been paying hefty amounts to artists as advance payments to get their music on the platform. People have theorized that like social networking sites, you may lose ownership rights when you upload your content.  However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. If you own the content that you upload, you will be recognized as its rightful owner.

Getting Paid

The big question: how do artists get paid? Regarding this Spotify maintains that “Only music that’s been released through Spotify for Artists will receive recording royalty payments directly from Spotify”. This means that Spotify will not be paying third-party distributors directly.

Spotify playlist submission

Spotify’s compensation formula is very simple: artists will be paid in proportion to the hits their songs get on the platform with Spotify and the artist sharing the revenues in half. Artists will be getting full royalties for their content. In addition to that, Spotify will also pay additional royalties to publishers if they apply.

Spotify’s payment portal, Stripe, will be used to pay the Artists who would have to register with their payment details on the portal first. Just like YouTube, Spotify would also enforce copyright laws and would not let artists upload content that violates their terms and conditions.

Spotify’s claim is that they are not a record label now. “Licensing content does not make us a label, nor do we have any interest in becoming a label…we don’t own any rights to any music, and we’re not acting like a record label”, the Spotify CEO has remarked.

Up till now, Spotify hasn’t actually signed any artists, and has reportedly also told artists to not mention that they have signed with them. However, they have been accused of rigging the system by paying artists to produce music that has been uploaded under fake artist names. Spotify has denied these accusations completely.

Better to chose Spotify direct upload or labels?

Why should one consider Spotify over a label, though? Firstly, it eliminates the need of an intermediary. Thus, artists have complete control over the release of their music and gain all of their royalties as well. This appears highly lucrative for the artist, but a close look at the process reveals multiple problems for the artist.

Spotify can promote your music on their playlist if they wish to do so, but there is no obligation on them to do so as you are not paying them a premium. This leaves the artist on themselves when it comes to marketing and promoting their content.  Which may again mean that they have to rely on an agency. Which causes a balancing out the marginal benefit that they may gain through directly dealing with Spotify.

Ultimately, the main question is, does this make a difference to the average user? Probably not if you are not an artist. Most users at the moment aren’t even aware regarding how some music got onto their preferred playlist in the first place. If you are an artist, this is what it means: You will soon be upload your own music to Spotify for free.

Surprisingly, and happily so, it is just that easy. But, will it stay this way? We’ll have to wait and watch to find out.