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I really don’t think it is/will.

Labels, especially the majors, are far more selective than they used to be. They’re not interested in the 99.99% of grunt music makers pushing out music.
They’re not stumbling over each other, fighting to discover the next major recording artist.

Whatever A&R is doing on Spotify, they’ll already be doing on SC and YouTube.

For them, it’ll just be another platform where they might identify prospective talent to sign up - something they’re certainly doing already as the barrier to entry for Spotify, Apple Music et al is already so low.

I think very little will actually change for labels.
The main loser here will almost certainly be SC - if Spotify can convince music makers that Spotify is the best platform for exposure and building an audience.

If anything, it’ll give them sharper tools to identify real prospects. It’s easier to separate the wheat from the chaff on Spotify because things like empty bios, no artist photos and no schedules gigs- all things visible in Spotify artist profiles - are a fairly accurate sign that the artist isn’t yet at a stage where a label A&R would likely be interested.


Streaming accounts for ~75% of music ‘sales’, which major labels take a cut of.

This is a smart move by Spotify, and I’m sure other streaming services will follow.

Now that traditional advertising channels like radio and MTV are being replaced by apps, and distribution is done digitally, what do need major labels for?


Only for the artists they have signed.

This is a smart move by Spotify, and I’m sure other streaming services will follow.

Now that traditional advertising channels like radio and MTV are being replaced by apps, and distribution is done digitally, what do need major labels for?

Labels have been a questioned model for years.

To answer the question of ‘What do we need major labels for?’

It’s not that we need labels, but while the model of pouring promotion into a product produces profit*, selected artists will still benefit from the boost that major labels and major wallets can bring.

It’s quite hard to point to a major music star who made it any other way.

All this has really changed is the digital distribution element – and that’s been getting progressively simpler for years, c/o Distrokid, Amuse, etc…

(* Lovely alliteration.)

What’s actually changed with this Spotify announcement that wasn’t true last week, last month or last year?


Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, 5 Seconds of Summer, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ed Sheeran, Soulja Boy and Psy all had their starts via YouTube.

I’d argue that given the right tools, any one of these could have ‘made it’ without a major label…?


I’ll take that bet. You just need to point to a handful of top-tier music stars that reached the top w/o backing from a major label, right?

‘Getting your start’ on YT is one thing, but as pointed out, it wasn’t until they got picked up and backed by a major label that they went top level and became artists we’re now familiar with.

Look at their plays before and after.

That’s what major labels can do and that’s why they’ll still be in the music business for years to come.

If artists having direct access to audience was a real threat to labels, major or otherwise, the SC would have had a more measurable impact.
As it was, it was SC’s recent deal with the majors to get their catalogue on SC that threw SC a lifeline, not the other way around.


Feels like we’re debating different points?

I’m not suggesting major labels are going anywhere, just that as viable alternatives arise, I can see plenty of artists exploring their options.


Kinda seems like you were a little premature or maybe just hyperbolic…

Labels ≠ digital distributors.

As said, I don’t really see this as likely to shift much in the industry. In terms of disrupting the relationship between labels and artists, YT (and to a similar extent SC) has likely done more to disrupt the music industry than Spotify cutting out middleman digital distributors.
(Although, it’s worth bearing in mind that the larger YT-based music artists/vloggers are typically part of a content network, which serves as a proxy label, handling many of the things that a label would.)

Similarly, Patreon and other direct support/subscription services and mechanisms will do more to disrupt the artist/label relationship in coming years as artist who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise get signed to a major label build a direct audience and monetise it.

Spotify’s announcement doesn’t really change anything for labels, big or small. (Digital) distribution has been the far smaller part of a label’s role for many years.

It adds no real new opportunities for unsigned artists as getting stuff on Spotify isn’t a major problem thanks to cheap/free digital distribution. The rest of their Spotify presence is already being handled via Spotify for Artists, which has been around for a while.

It will likely change nothing for signed artists, as their labels will either handle distribution directly to Spotify on their behalf or continue to use digital distributors through whom they can distribute to dozens of channels in a single click - including Spotify.


It’s clear that you think that, but you’ve so far not explained how you believe it will shake up the industry in general or labels specifically to any significant extent.

…keeping in mind that labels are not merely digital distributors.

Maybe just explain what things you believe will happen as a result of this new feature that weren’t largely possible and common last week, last month or last year.

If you’ve read some stuff elsewhere that highlights ways it will shake things up, then sharing them here would be cool.

Edit: I just read this MBW article, which follows up on the news. Worth checking out for its perspective.


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