Spotify has been testing its new podcast subscriptions in the US since earlier in the year with more than 100 shows. Now it’s happy enough with the system to roll it out to all podcasters in that country. Well, all the ones using Spotify’s own Anchor app to create their shows.

The streaming service is also giving those podcasters more pricing options – up to 20 amounts they can charge their listeners – as well as “the ability for creators to download a list of contact addresses for their subscribers so they can further engage with their subscriber bases and offer even more benefits”.

As the company’s blog post explained: “We understand that creators want to own their relationships with listeners, and we intend to empower that.”

Well then. This will not go down well with music artists and the music industry, who have long coveted this kind of data from Spotify and other streaming services. If podcasters can own their relationship with listeners on Spotify, why can’t artists?

Another way to look at this, though: listening to an artist on Spotify, or even following them, does not constitute consent to be added to their mailing list. Spotify is right to be thoughtful about what customer data it shares with third parties on privacy grounds, although that wouldn’t stop it – for example – adding a ‘join this artist’s mailing list’ button option for profiles.

Also, note that a podcaster doesn’t get someone’s contact details if they just listen to or follow their show: it’s only if they pay to subscribe to it. That’s a tier (or level of engagement) that doesn’t currently exist for musicians.

So, let’s talk about equivalence between musicians and podcasters through a different lens. Spotify is putting thought and resources into creator-level subscriptions for podcasters. There’s an opportunity for it to make a similar effort to figure out how this idea can apply to musicians.

What would fans want from their favourite artists if they were to pay a top-up fee on Spotify, and how might such a system work? Spotify’s podcast subscriptions drive may give it some ideas, as might careful study of what’s happening on other platforms: Bandcamp, Patreon, and more.

Getting subscribers’ contact details could be part of this, but that’s just one of the potential benefits – if Spotify has the will. In March, CEO Daniel Ek made encouraging noises on this front.

“So far music has been a one size fits all where we’ve just monetised it through the streaming revenues in itself, and you had to, as a creator, figure out how to monetise that fan base off of other platforms,” he said, in an interview on Clubhouse. “But I think the future is that we will become a lot better at monetising your fans and your superfans, even on Spotify.”

It does feel instinctively unfair that podcasters can get their listeners’ contact details and musicians can’t. But if we look at the podcasting subscriptions partly as a trial run for things that could later roll out to Spotify’s much larger community of music artists… Well, it might be a more positive story.

The ball is in Spotify’s court to deliver on that though.

culled from: musically

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