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Coldplay manager admits concerns about streaming platforms

By | Published on Tuesday 10 January 2012


Coldplay’s manager Dave Holmes has admitted that the band’s newest album ‘Mylo Xyloto’ was not made available via streaming platforms like Spotify because of concerns that doing so would have a negative impact on download sales via a la carte digital platforms like iTunes.

As previously reported, it emerged last October that Coldplay’s latest album would not be made available for streaming for either freemium users or paying subscribers of services like Spotify, even though their label EMI has deals in place with such platforms. They weren’t the first high profile artist to opt out of the streaming platforms with their new material, though the news that ‘Mylo Xyloto’ wouldn’t be streaming came just as the backlash against the streaming companies, especially in the grass roots music community, was starting to gain momentum.

Some artists and smaller indie labels reckon that having content on Spotify is counter-productive, because the streaming services pay only nominal royalties, while having a presence on such platforms can have a negative impact on iTunes sales, or so said objectors believe.

Speaking to Bloomberg’s Business Week, Holmes admitted he was concerned about making new material available via Spotify et al because he believes such services “compete with download stores” which generate more tangible revenues for artists. However, he added that the Spotify boycott would only be temporary, ie while iTunes-style sales were still active, confirming that the intent is to push the record to the streaming services in due course. Holmes: “Like all of Coldplay’s other titles, the new album will be on [Spotify] eventually”.

There’s a sense that Spotify boycotts like those employed by Coldplay and Holmes are more artist and management driven, and that major labels and big indies by default would choose to make all new records available on all platforms, though record companies are generally non-committal when asked about such things. Commenting on ‘Mylo Xyloto’ not appearing on Spotify back in October, EMI told reporters: “We always work with our artists and management on a case by case basis to deliver the best outcome for each release”.

Of course for big name artists a staggered approach – downloading now, streaming in six months time – probably makes sense, though some in the industry do fear that such tactical moves by certain major acts could damage the wider subscription-based streaming music market just as it’s gaining momentum, in that such services will have to target increasingly mainstream audiences to grow, and those audiences might be put off if major new album releases are routinely missing from streaming service catalogues for six months to a year after release. And for those who believe that Spotify-style services are the industry’s best hope for turning those who currently access unlicensed content networks into paying music consumers, that would probably be something to worry about.

Though some don’t believe Spotify opt-outs will become the norm, even for big name artists. When Bloomberg asked Scooter Braun, the manager of one of the world’s biggest acts, Justin Bieber, for comment, he remarked: “There were a bunch of artists who wouldn’t sell music on iTunes when that first started, and now it’s standard. The same thing will happen with Spotify”.