Spotify Adds Commission-Free Merchandise Feature As Artist Sweetener

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Spotify has added the ability for artists distributing music via its platform to offer merchandise to fans without taking any commission on sales of t-shirts et al. It was previously running a pilot of the feature with 200+ artists but has now opened it up to all artists using its platform.

It’s partnering with Topspin for the merch feature, which also isn’t taken any kind of cut on sales (although artists are required to sign up for a Topspin ArtistLink account to activate the feature).

With no direct pie-slicing going on, this looks like a sweetener for artists to give them an incentive to continue streaming their music via Spotify — by helping to foster additional revenue streams, beyond paying to play the music itself.

Spotify has, after all, suffered various tongue-lashings at the hands of artists unhappy with its business model (last year Radiohead’s Thom York dubbed it “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse“, in one memorable example of musician streaming music rage).

Spotify is clearly hoping to make itself the good-guy with its latest offer. The new merchandise feature doesn’t require artists to change how they sell merch already — rather listings link through to artists’ existing store URLs — albeit they can only list up to three items of merchandise at any one time. So it’s not agreeing to host fully fledged merch stores on its platform, more providing space for a little taster.

The merch feature is also only being offered to english-speaking Spotify users in the following countries for now, with plans to expand language support in future (artists in other countries can still list merchandise but it will only appear to users in the following locations): U.S., U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland.

Spotify’s current usage stats stand at more than 24 million monthly active users and over six million paying subscribers (i.e. as opposed to those listening with ads squeezed between tracks) — making its active freemium to paid subs ratio circa 20%.

Globally it says it has now licensed more than 20 million songs, with more than 20,000 being added daily. Its platform is available in 55 markets.