Spotify is considered the leading streaming platform in the music industry. The global music industry has changed significantly since the launch of this Swedish streaming service in 2006.
Not only has it changed, the arrival of Spotify has caused a dramatic turn in development. For example, today every four out of five songs worldwide are broadcast through music streaming services. The music industry began to change most rapidly during the global pandemic, when there were numerous bans and restrictions, as well as a ban on concert activities. Music lovers have moved online.
But the pandemic has brought Spotify both unprecedented growth and many problems at the same time. After a podcast hosted on Spotify spread lies about COVID-19, the company came under pressure. Some artists – the most notable example being Neil Young – abandoned the service in protest, and almost simultaneously with it, many users. This means that competing platforms have gained more customers.
The problem is that recently protest movements like #cancelspotify and #deletespotify have gained momentum on social media, especially on Twitter. Users joining these campaigns are, so to speak, protesting Joe Rogan’s podcast, which ran an episode late in the year with false claims about COVID-19.
Faced with the implications of the issue, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek released a letter promising to make the platform’s rules more transparent to content producers and display COVID-19 warnings in content, leading to the creation of a trustworthy disease information hub.
But nothing happened to Joe Rogan. This episode in the history of the Swedish music streaming app, probably the most scandalous in its long successful history. There are those who advocate for it to be banned from Spotify, or at least removed from the problematic episode. This has been the motivation for many users to change their audio streaming platform. This became especially relevant in the wake of the psychological stress associated with the pandemic.
But other streaming services only grew marginally in 2021. YouTube grew by 8.3%, while Amazon Music and Apple Music grew by 3.4% and 3.3%, respectively. Again, Tidal was the most notable case with 30% growth, but in absolute numbers of users, this platform is much less in demand than others.
Of course, these figures need to be analyzed with caution. Without extensive research, it is impossible to argue that the increase in downloads recorded by Spotify’s competitors is due to the latter’s abandonment.
What is clear is that while the movement is strong, in practice the boycott of Spotify has had little to no negative impact on the platform’s customer base.
On the other hand, it cannot be said that there will be no consequences. It is possible that this situation will alienate new subscribers and even affect the value of Spotify shares for a short period of time. These problems could be exacerbated if more artists join the boycott, especially those with wide audience reach.