In his first ever interview, Spotify UK and Ireland MD Tom Connaughton has outlined his vision for the streaming giant.
Speaking exclusively in the latest issue of Music Week, Connaughton shares the cover with UK and Ireland head of music Sulinna Ong and head of studios James Cator, who’s driving podcast growth at Spotify.
In this bonus unpublished section from the cover story interview, the UK boss – who stepped up in summer 2018 – revealed his ambitions for Spotify, which recently moved into its new London HQ.
“We’re the number one music platform in the UK today, we're an incredibly important market for Spotify globally - the UK is a priority market, both in terms of revenue and subscribers,” said Connaughton. “And beyond that it's a very strategically important market for Spotify. The UK has always held such a incredibly important and unique place in the global music ecosystem, we understand that and we want to support and build that.”
But with Apple Music and Amazon Music chasing Spotify – and poaching its execs – Spotify is under constant pressure.
“We focus on ourselves,” insisted Connaughton. “We focus on our own strategy, and we focus on providing the best, most innovative product for the audience, the artists and the creators who are on our platform. We feel that if we look after the best interests of Spotify and keep innovating, then the rest will take care of itself.”
We're an incredibly important market for Spotify globally
One area of innovation has been Spotify For Artists, which has been built to achieve CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek’s vision for a million creators on the platform. But last year Spotify opted to close its direct upload beta programme for independent artists.
“You will see us trying things and launching things, many things in beta – some things will come out of beta and go public, other things will roll back,” said Connaughton. “And that speaks to the fact that we're always listening and working out what's best. We have a marketplace team here and that forms a significant part of our strategy going forward.
“The number one thing that the audience asks from us when we speak to them is, ‘Can you help me find new things?’ And the number one thing our creators ask from us when we speak to them is, ‘Can you help me find new audiences?’ Our marketplace team is really set up to facilitate and foster connections between artists and audiences.”
But Spotify has no plans to move to a user-centric payment system, which it’s been suggested would benefit smaller, independent artists
“Like other people in the same sector, we do modeling and investigate to see what it looks like,” said Connaughton. “I don't think the model is clear in terms of who benefits and who doesn't benefit [from user-centric payments].”
Connaughton also commented on the issue of publishing royalties from streaming. In the US, DSPs have appealed a Copyright Royalties Board ruling on revised rates.
“What's clear, and what we've always been committed to, is that songwriters and everybody in the value chain gets paid more,” said Connaughton. “That doesn't change. We're committed, ultimately, to the people who make the music we all love getting paid more and getting paid what's right and fair. I think the question is: what does that look like? And that's what everyone's trying to work out.”
To read the full interview pick up the latest issue – or subscribers can click here.
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