Spotify Now Lets Independent Artists Bypass Labels and Upload Their Own Songs and Albums

On Thursday morning, Spotify will send invitations to several hundred independent artists in the U.S. inviting them to a new feature that allows them to upload songs and albums directly — without going through a single label company, distribution group or Spotify employee — and automatically receive royalty payments in their bank accounts.

The feature, in invite-only beta form for now, is a major update to the streaming company’s existing Spotify for Artists program, through which signed-up artists can manage their pages and view listener engagement metrics. “Artists have told us that releasing their music on Spotify can sometimes be a little nerve-wracking, so we wanted to give as much transparency to the process as possible,” Kene Anoliefo, a senior product lead on Spotify’s creator marketplace team, tells Rolling Stone. “The new features we built really speak to ease and flexibility. We’re working with independent artists and their teams to own their copyright and distribute their content.”

Spotify consulted with indie artists like Noname and Michael Brun to design the new tools, which let artists upload music without limits on frequency, size or quantity, as well as edit metadata and — perhaps most crucially — review and receive royalty payments every month. There’s also a “future estimated payment” tool that allows artists to see projections on the next month’s earnings.

These new features, screenshots of which Spotify provided to Rolling Stone below, are almost certainly going to make indie artists as happy as the old music business guard nervous. While Spotify has insisted on its lack of interest in becoming a record label (CEO Daniel Ek said outright in an earnings call in July that “we are not acting like a record label”), the streaming company has taken a number of steps to close the gap between itself and artists, such as quietly striking direct deals with musicians and management companies, as the New York Times reported earlier this month. Now, with a self-upload feature, Spotify is cutting out more of the label’s traditional middleman role and giving some artists more control and transparency over their work (and money gained from it since they don’t have to split royalties with other parties) than a label can provide. But of course, choosing to go that route as an emerging artist still means foregoing the vast resources and backing of a label — which may be too much a risk for most to take.

Anoliefo says the company plans to roll out more invitations in the coming weeks and months, and will tweak and update the features depending on beta users’ feedback. “We have intentions to make it easy for anyone who has music to share it on Spotify,” she says.

Read Spotify’s blog post below.

Today, we’re announcing a new beta feature that enables independent artists to upload their music to Spotify — directly from Spotify for Artists.

Since we launched Spotify for Artists, one of the top requested features has been the ability to upload music directly onto Spotify. You’ve told us time and time again that sharing your work with the world should be easier. In the past few months, we’ve been testing an upload tool within Spotify for Artists, because we believe getting new music to your fans should be simple for all artists. Starting today we’re inviting more artists to participate in the beta.

We worked with a handful of independent artists—like Noname, Michael Brun, VIAA, and Hot Shade—to make sure we kept your needs in mind. Their feedback was instrumental in shaping the feature, and now we’re ready to see how a wider range of artists will put them to use.

How it works:

You’ll be able to deliver music straight to Spotify and plan for the perfect release day. You’ll see a preview of exactly how things will appear to listeners before you hit submit. And even after your music goes live, you’ll be in full control of your metadata with simple and quick edits.

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.

Want in?

Right now, upload in Spotify for Artists is only available by invitation to a few hundred US-based independent artists, but we’re excited to bring upload to even more artists, labels, and teams in the future.

Over the next few months, we’ll ask more of you to participate—make sure to join our mailing list so you’ll be the first to know about any new announcements. Remember, you don’t need to wait for an invitation to release your music—this is just one of many ways you can get your music on Spotify. You can learn more by checking out the Spotify for Artists guide.

SOURCE: Rolling Stone, Amy X. Wang