Spotify rejects exclusive content for more original content

Steven Loeb · October 25, 2016 · Short URL:

The company released its first 12 original series earlier this year, and vows to do more

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One of the more recent developments in the online music streaming space has been the idea of exclusives, where an artist pledges to only allow one service to have access to certain content. It makes sense; in a crowded field, these services need to be able to give their users something that the others can't.

While that has been a key part of the business plans behind Tidal and Apple Music, it's an area where Spotify seems unwilling, or uncomfortable., to go. 

Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive 2016 technology conference on Tuesday, Stefan Blom. Spotify’s chief strategy officer and chief content officer, said his company would not be doing these types of deals because, "We don’t believe that [exclusives are] good for the artist."

"I think you need to meet the fans wherever they are,” Blom said, but it "“doesn’t make sense" to enter into partnerships that restrict where music can be played.

Instead, the company is going to focus on doing something else that will set it apart: more original content, including videos and marketing events.

Spotify first began expanding beyond music early last year, when it announced the launch of its "video capsule," which would offer streaming video from partners that includes Comedy Central, Vice News, and The Nerdist. 

Earlier this year it was revealed that Spotify would be making 12 of its own original series as well. Its original video partners include actor Tim Robbins and Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons, who each made their own original series.

The company obviously sees this as a more viable business model than the exclusive deals that other services are entering into. Perhaps that has something to do with the trouble you can get into if that content doesn't turn out to be as exclusive as you said it was.

Earlier this year Kanye West, along with Tidal and  S. Carter Enterprises, both of which are controlled Jay Z, were named in a class-action lawsuit, accusing them of fraud after West's new album, The Life of Pablo, which was released on Tidal as an "exclusive" in February, turned out not to be so exclusive after all.

It became available on Apple, as well as Spotify and Google Music, and even West's own website, by the beginning of April.

The suit accuses Tidal of using the allure of Kanye West's music to trick users, including minors, into giving up their personal information.

That's the kind of legal headache Spotify definitely doesn't need, especially as it looks to potentially go public soon

One artist that Spotify would like to work with on original content is Taylor Swift, who famously removed all of her music from Spotify a couple of years ago. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Swift wrote that, "Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for."

She signed an exclusive deal with Apple for her concert footage last December.

Spotify is the largest music streaming service. It passed Pandora, crossing 100 million users at the end of June, with 30 million paid subscribers. 

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