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Spotify dipped its toes in the waters of tips economies in April 2020 when it launched its ‘Artist Fundraising Pick‘ feature. It enabled musicians to add a link to their profiles for fans to donate either to them, or to their chosen charities.

It was more of a quick-fix response to the Covid-19 pandemic than a grand strategic move, and the payments were all handled by external partners, but it did still signify a potential interest in adding a tips economy to Spotify’s traditional system of royalties.

Now we have an idea of how that interest may play out. Spotify is renaming Artist Fundraising Pick to ‘Fan Support’ – confirmation that it’s here for the longer term – while saying that more than 200,000 artists are using it. However, the bigger news is what the company is planning to do with its also-rebranded Spotify Live feature.

That’s the live audio app formerly known as Spotify Greenroom (and before that, in its pre-Spotify-acquisition days, as Locker Room). Spotify is testing the ability for artists to host their own ‘live audio rooms’ in the app, and use it to make money “by selling merch, promoting concert tickets, and receiving tips and donations – all inside the room”. Artists can sign up to signify their interest in testing the feature.

For the past couple of years, the music industry has been watching the emerging tips economies on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, and wondering how (or if) they might be applied to the music streaming ecosystem. Meanwhile, a number of artists have been diving into those other platforms’ tips economies to make money. Twitch even commissioned a ‘Rockonomics’ study to encourage more of that.

Spotify’s Live experiment is just that: an experiment. How well it works; how energetically it’s supported by the company; how fans respond; and how many artists are comfortable with it… these are all questions yet to be answered. But it’s potentially an important moment in the development of the

music streaming economy if it works.

In other Spotify news, the company is opening up its video podcasts feature to all creators in the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, if they’re recording their podcasts using its Anchor app. Those video podcasts will also be able to use Spotify’s show-level subscriptions, with other new features including embeddable videos and specific analytics.

Meanwhile, the company also announced yesterday that its new head of music for UK and Ireland is Safiya Lambie-Knight, formerly its artist & label partnerships lead there.

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