Did Spotify Miss the Mark? 🎯

The platform is bundling music and audiobook royalties

Good morning. AI can be an unsettling pair of letters for a lot of creators. But one platform where AI is embraced as a core part of the creator toolkit? OnlyFans. 

Whether it's offering subscription chat bots or generating “digital twins,” creators are evaluating what can lighten their workload vs. what might alienate fans. “We sincerely believe that the adult industry always drives all the technology,” one startup executive told Business Insider.

Creators Criticize Spotify’s New Music Royalties

Music creators including Anthony Fantano (right) call out Spotify for lowering music royalty payments for songwriters / Illustration by Moy Zhong, Anthony Fantano

Songwriters and other musical artists on Spotify could be paid up to $150 million less in royalty payouts this year with the platform’s recent Premium subscription restructuring, according to Billboard

Here are the details: 

  • Spotify plans to increase the price of its Premium subscription by $1–2 per month for families and individuals. 

  • According to Bloomberg, Spotify has begun including audiobooks in the Premium subscription package—that means the platform has to pay for both books and music licensing with the revenue it generates from Premium subscription fees.

  • So? Spotify is paying a discounted “bundle” rate to songwriters for Premium streams. That rate might result in smaller total payouts to Spotify artists.

Creators including music commentator Anthony Fantano and Joey Hiphop have said that the move feels like another slight against music creators’ already diminishing Spotify returns. 

“While I do believe in funding the arts…I’m not sure throwing every voice, creed, composer, [and] writer into one massive, click-per-stream royalty pool is the way to do it,” Fantano said in a video. “It’s most likely going to lead to people getting ripped off and making less money.”

“I don’t have a great solution…If I was an artist, I’d put my music up for sale directly and have it on streaming. D2C is the way to go,” Hiphop said on X.

Big picture: Spotify has made a public effort to improve music royalty payments, including promising $1 billion in artist payouts over the next four years. But reception has been mixed. And with Spotify’s recent strategic investment in audiobooks, some publishers have voiced concern that authors might soon get the same treatment as musicians.

Critical Role Launches New Streaming Service

(Left to right) Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray and Matthew Mercher announce Critical Role’s new membership service, Beacon / Critical Role

Board game creators Critical Role announced a new streaming service called Beacon last week, offering new exclusive series and ad-free versions of their flagship shows for $5.99 a month.

Viewers on YouTube and Twitch will still be able to access existing content for free, Critical Role’s CEO Travis Willingham said.

The reaction? Mostly positive.

  • “This is the natural progression of them being an independent company and I’m going to support this,” one user commented on YouTube.

  • Beacon’s website experienced “heavy traffic” from fans and “periodically” crashed shortly after launch, according to ComicBook.com.

Between the lines: We’re in a creator streaming service boom right now.

  • Dude Perfect built an app that’s aimed at younger viewers with family-friendly content.

  • Airrack and Mythical have launched 24/7 channels on platforms including Roku and Amazon's FireTV.

  • Nebula announced a film studio, and Dropout produced a series of live comedy specials.

But how creators communicate these launches can also be important to their success early on. Many Critical Role fans compared Beacon to another creator group’s recent stumble: “Glad [Beacon] didn't take the Watcher route of taking away things that have always been free and pay-walling them, this service looks pretty neat,” one fan posted on X.

Tech Lobbying Group NetChoice Drops TikTok

TikTok loses one of its biggest allies in Washington, lobbying group NetChoice / Illustration by Moy Zhong

NetChoice, a tech lobbying group that represents interests from companies including Google and Meta, has stopped working with TikTok following pressure from top Republican leaders.

The House Select Committee on China reportedly plans to investigate groups associated with TikTok—which influenced NetChoice’s decision, according to Politico.

Big picture: TikTok has lost one of its biggest allies in Washington—NetChoice successfully helped the company fight a statewide ban in Montana last year.

👀 Creator Moves

  • Sidetalk is hiring an editor with experience creating long-form, podcast-style videos.

  • Spy Ninjas is looking for a writer/director based in Las Vegas.

  • Jubilee Media is hiring a social media manager to run social strategy across its Jubilee and Nectar brands.

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