Spotify just announced yesterday that they will be officially shutting down the direct upload option through their Spotify for Artists portal. It's been about a year since the initiative launched in Beta and after research and alleged feedback from artists, they've decided that their position in the streaming world is more suited for providing analytics, partnering with distribution companies, and assisting artists with more playlisting opportunities.
Some industry players that are deeply rooted within the independent infrastructure believe that this decision was more contingent upon Spotify's position with major record labels. In theory, the more artists are empowered to upload music on their own without a 3rd party distributor, the less artists will feel dependent on going through labels to run their careers. This could ring to be true for some as more established artists continue to opt out of traditional record deals, attempt to retain ownership of their masters, and find new ways to capitalize on the value of their intellectual property. Skeptics always feared that the Spotify direct upload model would turn the platform into a bigger, more regulated version of Soundcloud in the long run - meaning that everyone would be free to share their music without any existing barriers to entry.
Direct uploads will be done away with by the end of July. Spotify encourages artists that used the application to keep an eye on their email as more details will be released soon, including a list of "preferred" distributors and discount codes for those in transition. Experiments like this really prove that as much as we rely on these big companies to know what they're doing, they're really just relying on us to provide them with more data. As streaming quickly becomes more of a powerhouse in the market, artists that work outside of the industry's rules might want to take advantage of that position. We've compiled a short list of possible solutions for artists that might feel slighted.
1. Launch your own website/app that will allow you to upload your own music for sale.
2. Utilize social media to continuously build your following.
3. Link your website/app in your bio to lead new and existing fans directly to your "buy" option. (100 fans x $10 album = $1,000 vs. 90,000 streams = approximately $1,500)
4. Collect emails, phone numbers, and social media usernames via website to build stronger relationships with your support group. Even at 4% conversion rate, you'll be able to directly reach the people that are willing to invest in you. This allows you to level the playing field with accessible data about your supporters which will only enhance your traffic in terms of merch launches, running sales, fan giveaways, new content, etc.
The list above is not the "end all, be all" solution for artists, but for those that intend to achieve longevity it is a very detail oriented way to ensure that you're properly compensated for your art. Although this method will likely decrease your monthly plays via streaming apps like Spotify where numbers are visible to the consumer, you'll have real numbers to present to companies that may be interested in partnering with you along the way. Keep things like this in mind and maybe one day we won't have to look at large corporations as the gatekeepers of our destiny. Peace.