Spotify Finally Talk About ‘In Residence’ Artist Shows
Spotify released artist-curated playlists earlier this week and they’ve now come out to talk about it.
With the popularity of Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio station it is plain to see that there is a still a market for music curation that is presented by someone in the age of music streaming. Spotify saw it’s popularity and have now introduced their own In Residence playlists.
In Residence isn’t a complete clone of Beats 1 however, whereas Beats 1 is a 24 hour live radio station Spotify’s In Residence shows are a playlist, accessible anytime, that features the chosen songs of that artist interspersed with their pre-recorded talks. This means that listeners can view the setlist, choose what songs to listen to and when, skip through talking sections and basically all the freedom that comes with a regular Spotify playlist.
So far In Residence has featured shows from Tonga (Mike Skinner of The Streets and Murkage), Sex Pistol Steve Jones, Big Narstie, T and J of Jungle, and recently added Peter Robinson, founder of music blog Popjustice. So far each of the guest artists have signed up to make six shows in monthly intervals with the potential for more depending on the success of the In Residence shows.
Rob Fitzpatrick from Spotify’s original content division spoke about the new playlists, saying: “This is a whole proper big series of shows that I’ve been working on all this year. I got pitched quite a lot of presenters, but that was never what I wanted.
“This is more like an artist takeover really. Every conversation I’ve had with them, and even contractually, they’re free to say what they want, and play what they want. It’s completely their show.”
Fitzpatrick said that Jungle were the first artists he approached citing more than just their music for his choice. “They’ve got fantastic connections: they DJ a lot, they play live a lot, they basically know everyone.” Adding: “And they’ve got great stories about people, which really comes across in the show.”
Fitzpatrick says that his selection came down to a lot more than just popularity, saying: “All the people involved have that authority and voice: they all stand for something, and mean something in their respective worlds. Which is very important. My feeling is that this is the start of a journey for us
“I wanted to create things that super-served a particular part of the audience, rather than tried to be everything to everybody right from the start. I want it to be something people stumble across and then tell other people about, because it feels like a natural extension of these artists they like, rather than ‘Superstar presents blah blah blah’. The world is full of content that’s, well, it’s just alright you know? I desperately wanted to do something more than that.”
Fitzpatrick clarified that despite similarities there are no plans for a system in the vein of Beats 1, saying: “This isn’t radio. If anything, they’re podcasts. You can’t have talking over the music for example, and all the tracks have to be on Spotify. There is an element of ‘hosted playlist’ to it, what I like about some of the shows – particularly Peter’s – is that they do treat it like an actual radio show, talking you into and out of tracks.”
Spotify have attempted a radio style show in the past with artist Billy Bragg hosting a playlist and band The Horrors who presented the short lived ‘Luminous Radio’. In 2010 digital distributor Kudos Records also attempted a foray into radio shows working with radio DJs to create shows for Spotify with a similar model to In Residence.
In the past Ministry of Sound have criticised the idea of professional curation on Spotify saying that there is no viable business model that could support curation on the music streaming platform. However with the spoken-word tracks used on In Residence earning individual revenue there is the potential for presenters to make money using the system.
Fitzpatrick adds that there is more to their In Residence shows, saying: “Everyone is paid for doing their show. I would not have ever gone into a situation of asking people to do this and not paying them properly, per show. I would be ashamed of myself if I was asking ‘Will you do this show for promotion alone’.”
On future plans with the service Fitzpatrick said: “Over time this will become easier. To be honest it is quite simple already, as long as you own all the content you’re uploading. But there are a couple of hoops you have to jump through. I would say that it will become something that will be easier to do on Spotify over the next six months to a year. It’s a thing that people want to do, I think.”
Spotify are reportedly yet to add new shows from electronic/dance magazine Mixmag and music blog Brooklyn Vegan to be coming sometime in November. Fitzpatrick also says that there are more to come. On Spotify you can follow the In Residence profile to keep updated with the latest selections as well as following the individual artist’s shows.