Music Business

What to expect (and not) at Spotify’s Stream On event

UPDATE: Spotify is holding its annual Stream On event today, Wednesday, March 8th. The usual slate of expected announcements comes at a time of growing pressure on the streamer from the music industry amid contract renegotiations, demands for a different royalty model, and investors concerned that huge investments in podcasts and audiobooks pay off.

Watch Spotify Stream On live here @ 10 AM PT/1 PM ET Today 

What to look for during Spotify’s Steam On Event?

  1. Price Increase – All eyes will be on CEO Daniel Ek to see if he caves to pressure to increase monthly subscription prices as competitors, including Apple Music and Amazon Music, did months ago. So far, Ek has only promised to consider it.
  2. TikTok-style discovery – Rumors have already proven accurate, with a new homepage on Tuesday popping up on some users’ mobile apps. Among them was Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge: “It’s THE homepage, and it’s about cards, not just videos… It’s the first thing you see when you open Spotify, albeit still with prominent buttons to access the search and library features. The feed *doesn’t* consist of videos, but rather ‘cards’, one at a time, which include several interactive elements.” Watch his short below:

3. Short Video – Everyone is jumping on the TikTok short video craze, so why not Spotify? Actually, the streamer started quite a while ago with Canva and then by asking artists to upload 30-second videos thanking fans as part of last year’s Spotify Wrapped. Short videos would also fit well on the new homepage, so don’t be surprised in Ek unveils additional ways for artists to use short videos on the platform.

4. More DJ – Spotify released its new audio AI DJ a little over a week ago, and while it already shows promise, it’s important to remember that this is just DJ 1.0. At launch, Spotify promised more innovation ahead, and we expect Ek to hint at, if not unveil, what DJ 2.0 will sound like.

5. The Two-Sided Marketplace – Some called it obfuscation to distract from the raging royalty debate, but in 2019, Spotify promised to build a two-sided marketplace “to create art, engage with, grow, and better monetize their fanbase” while also driving revenue growth for the streamer. Additions like merch sales and Marquee campaigns have begun to deliver on that promise. But we expect more during this Stream On, including rumored new ways for artists to communicate with their fans.

6. HiFi Audio – Ek promised to add “HiFi” audio back in 2021 but has yet to launch it. With most other streamers already adding it at no cost to users, it would seem that it’s now or never for improved audio on Spotify.

7. Audiobooks – Spotify invested significantly to bring audiobook sales onto the platform. So far, that launch rates a yawn at best, so expect some audiobook announcement. Whether it’s real innovation or just window dressing remains to be seen.

What we don’t expect at Steam On

“If you don’t know what you want, you will probably never get it.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Don’t expect Ek to even hint at how its label renegotiations are going. While both sides know how much they need each other, we hear that the Majors are being particularly demanding this time around, in part because of uncertainty about exactly how royalties might be recalculated to their advantage.

I also don’t expect to hear much about Spotify’s effort to sell concert tickets which have chugged along rather unremarkably with mixed reviews from both artists and promoters. But while the concept has promise, there is so much bad press around Ticketmaster and ticketing in general that now is hardly the time for Spotify to ramp up its efforts.

Watch Spotify Stream On live here @ 10 AM PT/1 PM ET Today 

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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