Spotify is apparently punishing artists who decide to make their albums exclusives on other streaming services when they first drop. According to a new report from Bloomberg, Spotify is making these artists’ music more difficult to find on their service by burying them in search results and refusing to put their tracks on featured playlists. This has been in practice for about a year, according to Bloomberg‘s sources, and affects artists who have given exclusives to both Apple Music and Tidal.
It’s not clear if this tactic has actually had any adverse effect on the streaming numbers of artists like Drake, whose album Views was an Apple Music exclusive for two weeks after its release. If you search “Drake” on Spotify, the first thing you see will still be — obviously — Drake. And I doubt Drake is hurting from being left out of Spotify’s featured playlists. But for a less well-known artist, this could make a difference, or at least deter smaller artists from having any kind of exclusives.
This kind of scheming isn’t unique to Spotify. Last year, Apple was accused of sabotaging Tidal by intentionally taking a long time to approve Tidal’s app updates, according to Page Six. Apple also reportedly left a crummy version of Rihanna’s “American Oxygen” up on iTunes, after the singer made the track a Tidal exclusive. Apple denied that this was deliberate.
Spotify just announced it has 39 million subscribers to Apple’s 13 million.