If I Ran Spotify
I'd do these 8 things
Welcome, artists & builders.
Each week, we navigate music’s future together. Today I’m putting on my imaginary CEO hat, bringing Spotify into a fan-driven decade.
Inside Issue #19
💡 Idea: If I ran Spotify
🦁 In the Wild: An interactive single release
🤔 Breakdown: UMG’s artist-centric model
If I Ran Spotify
Spotify’s first decade was all about getting every listener to spend $10.
Spotify’s next decade should be all about turning listeners into fans.
But in their pursuit of podcasts, they’ve lost sight of where music’s going: Interactivity. Fandom. Experience.
It’s opened a hole in their armor - one that TikTok Music is coming for.
If I ruled Spotify, I would turn it into music’s super app, where you listen, engage, buy, share, create & connect.
8 THINGS I’D DO IF I RAN SPOTIFY
1. GO ALL IN ON MUSIC
The last 5 years have seen heavy investment going wide on “audio”. No more. We’re back to a music-first company - nurturing fandom, artists, interactivity & creation. We’ll facilitate this and benefit from it.
Podcasts remain, but separate from music feeds.
We’ve spent $1.27 billion on podcast-related acquisitions since 2019. We’re bringing that energy to elevating the fan experience.
2. MOVE TO A FANDOM-FOCUSED MODEL
Beyond subscriptions: micro-transactions, upgrades, artist subs, tickets, merch, digital goods & more. If you want to monetize superfandom, you can’t just slap a higher price on a marginally better product.
Each artist has unique fandom levels; we'll provide the tools to harness it.
3. ADD ARTIST MEMBERSHIPS ON PLATFORM
Artists set terms. We’ll provide the best D2C tools to deliver. Exclusive music, demos, listening parties, first access, chat & more.
Artists can integrate passes into other areas of their business.
The artist discovery to fandom pipeline has never been this direct.
4. ACQUIRE DICE
Music discovery meets event discovery.
DICE, the growing ticketing platform with killer social & discovery features is the perfect compliment to my plan. It will be our largest acquisition ever at $500m+. It will be worth it, plugging us into 10k+ venues.
It will remain stand-alone, but we’ll integrate first-access for artist subs, group buying, & seamless streaming-purchasing between the two apps.
5. BECOME THE ARTIST HOMEPAGE
Spotify will no longer be just one of many links within a smartURL that serve the same experience. We’ll be the location to send your fans:
Your music is here.
Your merch is here.
Your tickets are here.
Your community is here.
We will give full control, data & analytics to artists.
6. MAKE FANS A MAIN CHARACTER
Comments. Chat. Community. Creation. Profiles. People love Wrapped - I’ll triple down on it with streaks, updates, leaderboards & rewards.
We will feed the psychology of fandom & make it an active experience.
7. OFFER CREATION TOOLS…FOR LISTENERS
Music’s opportunity is creation. I’ll add simple, in-app tools for making music – interactive, licensed & integrated with your favorite artists.
Spotify’s creator tool strategy has failed. Why? Pro artists don’t need these tools in a streaming app; consumer-creators do. They’ll pay for it, and I’ll let pro artists monetize it.
8. INSTALL A USER-CENTRIC, ARTIST-FIRST MODEL
User-centric royalties. Boosts for active streaming. Tighter quality control on providers. Listen time impact, maxing out at 5 mins per track.
This will eliminate stream fraud & reward high-fandom artists. And I’ll make it clear where your monthly fee goes:
Subscribers → get support breakdowns
Artists → see top supporters
Individual fans will have individual value, changing incentives through creation to interaction.
We don’t need every listener to become a superfan.
But those who do will drive massive value.
Let’s serve that option.
📚️ My 3 Favorite Reads This Week
🦁 IN THE WILD
Aespa’s Fan-Driven Garden
Aespa’s turned fans into digital gardeners with their single “Better Things”.
The Setup: Fans get digital bouquets that thrive or die based on participation, turning into unique collectibles. The healthier you keep it, the more awards & experiences you unlock.
💐 Claim a free bouquet
🎧 Sync with your streamer
🔗 Grab your unique share link
🚰 Water with listening and shares
Over 10 days, your actions morph your bouquet from budding → blossoming → thriving. Or wilting.
Group Effort: Work collectively to unlock upgrades when the song hits more streams.
🧠 Make your marketing non-transactional & an expansion of your art to harness cooperation.
PS: Great work by the HiFi Labs team on this.
Streaming’s New Model?
UMG & Deezer launched a new streaming model. It’s a test of their ‘artist-centric’ vision. Starting in France with UMG artists.
The goal? Reduce payouts for ‘noise’ & support ‘real’ artists.
Here’s how it works:
1. PRO ARTIST DOUBLE BOOST: 2x payouts for artists with 1,000+ monthly streams from 500 unique listeners
2. ACTIVE LISTENING DOUBLE BOOST: Songs that fans actively choose will get an additional boost.
3. GOODBYE RAIN SOUNDS: Replace non-artist noise content with Deezer's functional music, which will not be included in royalty pool. UMG x Endel’s artist-led functional music wins.
4. REDUCE MUSIC OVERFLOW: Stricter rules for providers. Deezer has seen 110m new songs in the last 2 years. No specifics on provider rules, but the open-to-all, all-you-can-release for $10/year distribution has been exploited.
Search for a Beatles song, play it, they get a 4x royalty multiplier.
The Good: We must reward active listening & reduce clutter, particularly as AI adds to the problem.
The Less Good: It’s hard for middle-class artists to break thru financially, partly bc of cannibalization. And yes, that includes hobbyists. But “pro” is tenuous & this is not aimed at helping music’s mid tiers.
🗞️ What You Missed
TikTok inches closer to global attack on Spotify
Bieber producer sells 1% stream share via music NFTs
Criminal gangs are laundering money via Spotify
Virtual, AI-assisted singer Noonoouri signs to Warner Music
Ghostwriter submits viral fake-Drake & Weeknd track for a Grammy
Patreon gets more Discord-y with community chat
Duolingo to launch 1st music course in Oct (creation is the opp)