Image Credit: Spotify
Spotify’s Stream On event this week saw a number of huge announcements that show the streaming service is looking forward to a bigger year than ever in 2021 for listeners and creators.
Spotify’s first ever Stream On was a huge live-streamed event from the music streaming service. They took the chance to reach us all from afar, around the world and explore what they have in store for the future in terms of… well, everything it seemed!
The event has now been and gone and there is a whole lot of exciting news to unpack which we’ve been covering on our blog today. I’ll be linking the individual articles below so that you can explore them in more depth and below I’ll be looking into a summary of nearly everything that Spotify has announced (they announced a lot, head to the Spotify blog for a full account of the event).
So if you’re ready then strap in as there’s a lot to take in!
Spotify are undoubtedly global leaders in music streaming. In many ways they paved the way for the dominance of music streaming that we see today. So that makes it all the more strange that whilst streaming services around the world like Amazon Music, Deezer, and TIDAL have been offering a high definition music streaming service, Spotify have maintained a standard MP3 quality for all users.
Not anymore! Spotify have at last announced their brand new HiFi tier which will offer high fidelity music streaming to Premium subscribers. For those with the headphones and high quality speakers that will be capable of emitting the extra quality, the new tier will offer lossless, CD-quality files.
For true audiophiles the new high definition offering will be a must-have. Whilst music streaming is praised for its ease of access and its power in unlocking all of the world’s music in one place, it is often criticised for lower quality than physical formats. Compression on smaller audio files can also affect the clarity of well produced pieces.
Spotify’s details on HiFi are limited at the moment. We know it will be coming to select markets at first later this year and we don’t have a price on it though it will undoubtedly follow suit with other streaming services offering high quality streaming and cost a little extra than Spotify Premium.
At RouteNote we offer free distribution of FLAC files to major streaming services including Spotify so if you want to get your high quality music streamed through Spotify why not find out more at www.routenote.com.
One of the many things that makes Spotify great is its emphasis on getting the artists themselves involved in the experience. With their artist platform – Spotify for Artists – musicians, producers, and labels can see their streaming performance easily, manage their artist profiles, pitch their songs to playlists, and much more.
They’ll be expanding upon their offerings for artists in a number of ways this year. Spotify HiFi will of course benefit artists who can connect with their fans with music the way it was meant to be heard and the potential to increase streaming revenues with a higher price point.
Spotify Clips is an exciting new feature being tested with some artists at the moment. The tool allows artists to share short video clips straight onto Spotify’s apps where fans and listeners can view them. If TikTok has proved anything, it’s that people love short-form video. Providing more ways for artists to connect with the people who love and listen to their music will be welcome news for many.
Elsewhere Spotify are improving the chances for artists to get heard with expansion of their global RADAR program, pushing emerging artists into the limelight. They will also be expanding the beta of a new tool that gives labels better power over deciding how Spotify’s algorithms use and share their artist’s music.
Spotify Marquee will be coming to new countries. The artists and label tool allows smart promotion on the platform that places their new release in front of listeners most likely to connect with their music based on Spotify’s taste profiles.
Spotify for Artists will also be available in 25 more languages by the year, empowering more artists and their teams around the world with the tools they need to maximise their presence.
Spotify announced their biggest wave of expansion ever during their live event. This week they will be launching their service in 85 new markets in total, covering 36 brand new languages gaining access to their huge global catalogue.
The new launches technically makes Spotify available to over 1 billion more people than before across all markets. Once they’re live in all of these new territories, Spotify will be available for more than 170 markets around the world.
Their expansion doesn’t just mean that people in these territories will be able to download their streaming apps for desktop and mobile and sign up for free and premium music streaming. This enhanced reach will also see Spotify working with more local music cultures to promote the music native to these places and provide listeners curated experiences for their own culture.
The expansion will also see their rapidly growing podcast catalogue launch in each of their new locations and presumably expand with local content.
Speaking of podcasts…
In the past year we have seen podcasts explode on Spotify. They’ve expanded their catalogue to encompass more than 2 million podcast episodes available to stream by the end of 2020 – and that’s only increasing more and more rapidly!
So of course, with their recent focus on expanding their podcast offering there was lots of exciting news. First of all, Barack Obama now has a chat show on Spotify. Who is he chatting to you may wonder? Why Bruce Springsteen of course…
The first 2 episodes of ‘Renegades: Born in the USA‘ are now live and feature former President Barack Obama and the rock star discussing family life, American society, and much more.
Beyond the big names, Spotify have revealed a bit more about their grand plans to monetise podcast listeners and provide new revenue streams for the creators and hosts of their content. Their new Spotify Audience Network will provide advertising tools and insights to podcast creators.
The most powerful tool seems to be the work they’re doing in bringing together adverts with podcasts more seamlessly. Using Streaming Ad Insertion they can provide creators and advertisers with the insights to ensure they’re reaching the audiences they intend to.
Spotify’s podcast platform Anchor will also be expanding. The platform allows anyone to create and upload podcasts directly to Spotify and in 2020 80% of the shows added to Spotify were uploaded using Anchor (over 1 million in total!). They’ve been exploring how to make their podcasts more unique.
Last year Spotify started testing a combination of podcasts and music to make a multimedia experience. They’re in a fantastic position to license the music directly and allow creators to intersplice tracks into their podcast content. This rolled out to all creators last October.
So with the natural connection to music established for podcasts, their next move is to look at bringing the written word into their podcast platform. A new partnership with WordPress allows creators to easily convert their blog posts into audio. Using text to speech software, WordPress users will be able to directly convert their written pieces into a podcast read by a computer and uploaded to Spotify. Whether the audience is there for robots reading out blog pieces, we will have to see.
Spotify are also building interactivity over podcasts with further testing of features like Polls and Q&As for podcast listeners to have their say with their favourite creators. Creators can sign up to show they’re interested in being involved in testing of these features here.
Video podcasts will also continue to be tested with more creators being opened up to create video content on Spotify. If this is a success it could lead to a huge floodgate opening up as Spotify look to move beyond purely podcast content.
Of course there were also some statistics and numbers to look at that showed off how much Spotify is growing and what they’ve been providing over the years.
They revealed that in 2020 they paid out $5 billion to rightsholders. Just 57,000 artists represent 90% of their monthly streams. Speaking of those streams, they have quadrupled in the last six years.
Looking at four years ago to now, more than 82% more artists are now earnings over $1 million a year on Spotify. That’s over 800 artists in total making more than a million dollars in a year.
Artists generating over $100k a year is also up a staggering amount. Spotify revealed that 79% more artists are earning more than this in a year compared to four years ago. That encompassed more than 7,500 artists in total.
What Spotify didn’t talk about
Whilst the Stream On event was full of huge, juicy news to take in there were still some things we were expecting to hear about but didn’t. It may be too early days or that Spotify aren’t fully committed to these products yet, but we expect to hear more about them soon.
Spotify have been exploring audiobooks in the last year, starting with some very notable guest speakers reading the first Harry Potter book. Then last month Spotify introduced a selection of classics including Great Expectations and Frankenstein. Strangely, however, there was no mention of a bigger push into audiobook content.
A leak last June suggested that Spotify were going to start experimenting with streaming music videos on their apps. The leak showed in source code the potential option to switch between album art, Canvas covers, and a music video display on the Now Playing screen. Whilst there is still no official announcement on whether they’ll be introducing videos, a public support page published in December suggested confirmation from Spotify. That has since been taken down… mysterious!
Spotify have also been experimenting with creating their own tech hardware on and off for years. Last month their ‘Car Thing‘ appeared again when photos were revealed in a new FCC filing for the device. The Car Thing is a small, voice powered device first revealed in 2019 that in theory fits into a car to power full streaming of their music library hands-free whilst driving.
The Car Thing appeared after it was revealed that Spotify had begun testing voice control for their apps the year before, in 2018. However, no release of voice control integration or any hardware has come from Spotify yet.
There has been speculation for years that Spotify will launch their own hardware eventually, whether it come in the form of a car device or a smart speaker. Sadly, there were no details to be seen on any developments at their Stream On event.
So that about wraps up Spotify’s Stream On event for 2020. With the huge discussion created by all of the exciting reveals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this event become an annual staple of Spotify’s as a chance to build hype for new features and reveal what they’re working on for the year head.
Believe it or not, there is still much more we didn’t cover in the article. So for all of the details revealed at Spotify Stream On head to their blog and you can watch the full recorded stream below.