It seems that Spotify is not content to merely own the distribution and delivery of all music everywhere. It now wants to own the tools that help people record music. Spotify has bought online recording studio SoundTrap. Is this a good thing?
SoundTrap is a Swedish start-up, about 3 years old, which was created to offer on online, cross-platform and collaborative cloud-based recording studio. It has free and premium subscription options, where the free version gets you 5 projects, some loops and instrument sounds. This can go up to $17.99 a month for unlimited projects, advanced tools like Autotune, and high-quality mix downloads.
As a DAW you would peg it in terms of features along the lines of Apple’s Garage Band. But it’s main stand-out selling points, along with being simple to use, is that it runs in a browser and so you can use it on practically any device, and record with any built-in microphone. You can use posh professional gear as well if you wish. The other side is about collaboration where you can invite other users into your session. It has some pretty groovy stuff going on.
That said, I’d never heard of it before – and I’ve been knocking around in this industry for a long time. But I don’t claim to know anything. Much of their success has been in the educational market where it’s a great way to get students to work together on a cheap recording solution that can work on anything – perfect!
So where does Spotify come into all this? It seems that Spotify has turned its attention onto the creators. Spotify suffers from a bit of a love-hate relationship with musicians. We all want to see our music on the streaming service but at the same time we know that we’ll make far more money with a single iTunes or physical CD sale than we’ll ever make through Spotify streams. And I imagine this is a bit of a conundrum for Spotify. Along with working out how to make a profit themselves.
They recently invested in giving musicians better tools for monitoring streams and audience demographics. And last year they worked with Merchbar to enable artists to sell merchandise through their profile pages. So Spotify have been taking steps to do more for the artist, more for the people who actually provide them with the music they stream. It makes sense that they could take this further and start providing the tools artists need to make the music in the first place.
Currently, there’s no mechanism for an independent musician to upload or sell their music on Spotify. You have to go through a third party, virtual record label like TuneCore. An alternative streaming platform like YouTube lets anyone upload any old rubbish and become an internet star. Maybe Spotify is heading in that direction. They could open up their streaming service directly to everyone. Not only could you upload your music but Spotify will supply you with the recording studio in which to make the music – complete with a “Direct to Spotify” button.
I guess someone is going to have to work out how anyone makes any money from all this streaming business. As ever it’s unlikely to be the independent artist. But SoundTrap is an interesting direction for Spotify which could give it the connection to the community of creators that it currently lacks. At any rate SoundTrap is a pretty cool online recording solution which you should check out before it disappears into something else.