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Spotify Acquires Stake in Distrokid, Tightening Squeeze on Indie Distributors

The move enables artists who upload music directly to Spotify to distribute it to other platforms, including Apple Music and YouTube.

Following on Spotify’s announcement last month that artists can upload music directly to the platform, many asked what becomes of the independent distributors like TuneCore and CD Baby, which specialize in bringing artists’ music to digital platforms, including Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon, Pandora, iHeartRadio and others.

Today Spotify squeezed the indies just a bit more by announcing a “passive minority investment” in the aggregator DistroKid — a partnership that will enable artists who upload their music to Spotify to “seamlessly distribute their music to other platforms,” such as

The low-key, characteristically cheerful announcement seems designed to counter any misperception that Spotify has taken control of a service that distributes music to its competitors. (In fact, a Spotify rep contacted Variety to emphasize the fact that Distrokid remains independent.)

“For the past five years, DistroKid has served as a go-to service for hundreds of thousands independent artists, helping them deliver their tracks to digital music services around the world, and reaching fans however they choose to consume music,” Spotify wrote in a blog post. “The service has been a trusted and reliable partner to Spotify, which is why they’re a natural choice to enhance the experience for artists using our beta upload feature.” It concludes by saying the integration will begin “in the near future.”

The service costs $19.99 per year and says artists keep “100%” of their royalties, although specifics on the site are slim.

While the objective is to make uploading music as turnkey as possible, these moves put more responsibility on the artist for actually understanding how royalties work, no matter how simple the platform may seem. When Spotify announced the direct-upload option last month, Joe Conyers, co-founder and GM of digital-rights management platform Songtrust and VP Technology of Downtown Music Publishing, said, “While it’s great to see more flexibility for the independent community to make decisions about independent licensing, the fact is this is still only one part of being fully DIY. Independent creators still need to collect thousands of types of royalties. This move will not include songwriter and publishing royalties which many independent creators and businesses continue to fail to collect from Spotify.”

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