An author wishes to deliver their work to the public. They do not necessarily want everything to be accessible to the public. The performer wishes to be known to the general public. The publisher or phonogram producer, for their part, wants to create economic value based on the exploitation of creative works. Using the networking features of such a platform allows new and little-known artists to highlight their work and appear, evolve, and compete in a previously challenging field to enter and progress. The artist to “exist” is obliged to be on streaming platforms, otherwise, they will be forgotten in a world carried away by digitization.
In 2015, Spotify began releasing Discover Weekly, a personalized playlist that updates weekly with music recommendations tailored to each user, which was proven to be incredibly popular. Spotify then introduced several other custom playlists like the Release Radar for new music. By controlling the playlists, Spotify suddenly had a lot more power and began to shift its users slightly away from music owned by major labels and towards songs that were cheaper to license. Since more than a third of the music listened to on Spotify now comes from its own recommendations and playlists, Spotify currently has a lot of influence on the music industry. If Spotify decided to boost the career of a new unknown artist, it would literally be enough to add their songs to specific playlists, or on the contrary, remove them to “eradicate” an artist.
In 2021, Spotify alone accounted for over 20% of recorded music revenue, which is a substantial number. However, money does not necessarily mean dominance. While in the beginning Spotify struggled to negotiate licenses with record labels who had demanded a massive payout – 70% of Spotify’s revenue – and that artists had the luxury of removing their music from the said platform, Spotify now decides the rules of the game. With the rise of streaming, the other web giants have each had to create their audio streaming platforms, namely Apple Music from Apple, and YouTube Music from Google.
Today Spotify receives criticism for underpaying artists, non-respect of moral rights, and a possible disregard for the GDPR.
To be continued
Mémoire “Les conditions d’utilisation des plateformes de streaming audio : l’exemple de Spotify à travers makromusic”, Irmak TUNCER, juriste Propriété Intellectuelle.