Spotify launched a direct upload beta program in 2018 that allowed artists to upload their music directly to the platform without a digital distribution service. This would effectively cut out the middle man and give artists all their royalties. According to a story published by Billboard, that program has now ended.
Spotify published a statement about why they cut the program, though it's a lot of high-level language without a ton of actual substance. All artists who participated in the program will have to go through digital distribution services to have their music remain on the streaming giant.
"The most impactful way we can improve the experience of delivering music to Spotify for as many artists and labels as possible is to lean into the great work our distribution partners are already doing to serve the artist community. Over the past year, we’ve vastly improved our work with distribution partners to ensure metadata quality, protect artists from infringement, provide their users with instant access to Spotify for Artists, and more."
CD Baby Vice President of Creator Services Jon Bahr has also issued his own statement, essentially thanking Spotify for helping his business stay afloat.
"The end of Spotify’s Direct Upload business demonstrates the value that distributors like CD Baby contribute to the music ecosystem. We’ve made a concerted effort to be the best content provider, allowing our partner platforms such as Spotify to focus their efforts on the listener experience, as well as growing the revenue base for rights holders. CD Baby has recently expanded our Creator Services team to offer more strategic resources to top independent artists. We’re excited to help anyone whose music is being removed from Spotify’s Direct Upload service, and we’re ready to make the most of both past and future releases."
Spotify is currently asking for artists to pay them back because they overpaid them in 2018, and are suing the Copyright Royalty Board over their ruling that streaming royalties for songwriters must increase by 44% over the next five years.