Radio station Beats 1 has been one of the most warmly-received elements of Apple Music: especially the shows where artists like Drake, Grimes and St. Vincent have turned DJ.
Now Spotify appears to be fighting back with its own take on original, artist-driven radio. Albeit not live. The streaming service has created a new “In Residence” brand that sees artists and guest curators introducing a selection of songs.
So far, the Spotify In Residence profile has four public playlists, helmed by Jungle, Big Narstie, Tonga (the duo that includes The Streets’ Mike Skinner) and former Sex Pistol Steve Jones’ Jonesey’s Jukebox. Each playlist is a mixture of songs and talky segments – the latter recorded by the curators and uploaded to Spotify, which means they could be earning royalties from them.
We’ve seen this model before in 2014 with the Billy Bragg Radio Show, which was billed at the time as a series of “talking playlist” shows. Now, though, Spotify is getting behind the idea: the thumbnail image for each In Residence playlist bills it as “A Spotify Original”. It’s clearly very early days though: the Spotify in Residence profile only has 351 followers at the time of writing.
It’s unclear whether the plan is for these to be one-off playlists, or for the guests to pick new tracks and record new links regularly – the (Oct) in the playlist titles suggests they may be updated once a month, and XL Recordings has confirmed that this is the case for Jungle’s show:
— XL Recordings (@XLRECORDINGS) October 23, 2015
Even though In Residence isn’t live like Beats 1, it could fulfil a similar function: regular shows, curated by influential guests. It’s also another step towards giving Spotify a human touch that may be less about competing with Apple than it is providing an alternative to traditional radio.
Which in turn, makes us wonder whether In Residence could evolve into a new partnership opportunity for Spotify with radio broadcasters that provides the latter with a revenue stream – royalties for the talky tracks plus a share of associated ads.
Although it could just as easily be a springboard for Spotify to have its own Zane Lowe moment, poaching a DJ or two from the radio world for residential slots on its platform.
None of which has been announced, confirmed or even leaked by Spotify – Music Ally was tipped off about the new playlists by a radio industry source – so for now we can just speculate. We have contacted Spotify for comment and will update this story accordingly.