Last month, we reported on Spotify’s announcement that artists would soon be able to “link out to a verified funding page for themselves, for another artist in need, or for a separate initiative of their choice” from their profiles on the streaming service.
The new feature – named ‘Artist Fundraising Pick’ – goes live today – accessed via a ‘Get Started’ link at the top of the Spotify for Artists dashboard – and Spotify has revealed more details of the fundraising partners who artists will be able to link out to.
“Just like artists can select any piece of music to highlight on their profile as an Artist’s Pick, they can now highlight a fundraising destination (in addition to their Artist’s Pick),” explained the company in a blog post.
Spotify is launching the feature with three partners who artists will be able to raise funds for themselves, their bands and crews with: Cash App, GoFundMe and PayPal.me. The first of those has a closer partnership with Spotify, too.
“They’ve generously established a $1 million relief effort for artists during these challenging times. Spotify for Artists users that submit their ‘$cashtag’ username as their Artist Fundraising Pick — and secure at least one contribution of any size through Spotify — will receive an extra $100 in their account from Cash App, until a collective total of $1 million has been contributed,” announced Spotify.
“This effort is available to artists in the US & UK, but Spotify listeners located all over the world can still make contributions via Cash App.”
For now, crowdfunding platforms like Patreon and Kickstarter are not among the partners for the feature, and nor is D2C platform Bandcamp. Spotify hopes to expand the list beyond the initial three partners. “These are just confirmed initial partners. We hope to add more as we are able to,” a spokesperson told Music Ally.
Artists do not have to use their fundraising pick for themselves and their teams. They can opt to direct fans to the organisations that Spotify is working with as part of its Covid-19 Music Relief project to donate to their funds.
That initiative launched initially with three partners, MusiCares in the US and PRS Foundation and Help Musicians in the UK, but has since expanded with more partners in France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Brazil – an updated list is here.
The new feature launches today. In its blog post, Spotify named Tyrese Pope and Boy Scouts as being among the first artists to raise money for themselves using Cash App, and Benjamin Ingrosso and Marshmello as two of the first to raise money for relief efforts (Musikerforbundet in Sweden and MusiCares in the US respectively).
There’s a hint in Spotify’s blog post that this may not simply be a short-term feature for the duration of the current phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Given the urgency and impact of the Covid-19 crisis, we’re working as quickly as we can to develop this new product and get it out to as many artists as possible. However, we’ve never built a fundraising feature like this before. We consider this a first version that will evolve as we learn how to make it as helpful as possible for the music community,” explained Spotify.
It may have little choice, in truth. Imagine the firestorm of criticism if, even once the current crisis has eased, Spotify were to remove the Artist Fundraising Pick feature, if it has proved popular and useful for artists.
Better, perhaps, to view this as a testing of the waters for expansion of direct fan funding features in the future? We’ve heard the argument before that direct fan-funding – be it through a tips economy or Patreon-style top-up subscriptions – may be a sensitive topic for companies like Spotify, as it could be seen as an admission that there are problems with artist royalties from streaming.
Music Ally, as is our wont, would rather take an optimistic view. If streaming can be a funnel for ticketing and merchandise, why couldn’t it also fulfil that role for direct fan funding in the future? Not least because if big streaming platforms get behind the idea, it might help to further break down some of the stigma many artists feel around asking fans for money…