Spotify is punishing artists who give exclusives to Apple by gutting their placement on Spotify

Spotify routinely retaliates in a major way against artists that choose to give “exclusive windows” to streaming rivals like Apple Music and Tidal, according to reports by Bloomberg and The New York Times.

Spotify has previously called exclusives bad for artists and bad for listeners.

Sources told Bloomberg that artists have been informed by Spotify that, if they give exclusives to competitors, their songs won’t on “featured playlists” once they do hit Spotify. Exclusive windows are normally given for one or two weeks. Beyond that, artists told Bloomberg they’d noticed their songs were “buried” in Spotify’s search rankings, suggesting Spotify is messing with its own algorithm to punish them for giving favour to competitors.

Spotify has been doing this for about a year, but has stepped in up in recent months, according to Bloomberg.

The end of exclusives

Exclusives have been central to the strategies of Spotify competitors Apple Music and Tidal, who have grabbed them from the likes of Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, and Frank Ocean. But Spotify, the clear leader of the market at almost 40 million paid subscribers, hasn’t really used them (Apple Music announced 15 million subscribers in June).

But Spotify might not have to rage against exclusives for much longer, both in the press and with artists. Universal’s CEO reportedly sent a memo to stop giving anyone — Spotify, Apple Music, and so on — long-term exclusives. This is big news, considering Universal is a major label that has provided Apple Music with many of its blockbuster exclusives, like Drake, Bloomberg notes.

Perhaps the exclusive era is coming to an end.

Spotify declined to comment.

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