Facing growing competition in the online music space, Spotify on Monday announced a new program to allow artists to list merchandise on the site for free. That includes displaying T-shirts, vinyl, posters and other items through artist pages on Spotify.
Powering the new service is marketing software partner Topspin, which will link on the back end to artists’ existing merchandise elsewhere on the Web. The merchandising feature will roll out in nine countries at launch, including the U.S., U.K. and Sweden, where Spotify is based. The move is aimed at winning over both users and artists.
“We’ve been testing this merchandise functionality with a number of artists over the last month and the response from fans has been fantastic. We’re really excited that Spotify’s 24 million music-loving users can now see merchandise and concerts while listening to their favorite artists, and that we, in turn, can provide additional revenue opportunities for artists of all sizes,” stated a Spotify blog post.
The company emphasized that neither it or Topspin will take any fees or commissions in connection with the service, which allows artists to sell up to three items at any given time.
Spotify has long come under criticism over how much it pays artists for music. In creating a new site for musicians called Spotify Artists last month, the company responded by saying it pays an average of $0.0007 per play, and has paid more than $1 billion in royalties since its 2008 launch.
The new e-commerce feature for artists also comes as Beats Music, an offshoot of Beats Electronics -- maker of the hugely popular headphones of the same name -- is expected to launch its own music streaming service on Tuesday.
Overall, four in 10 adult U.S. smartphone users listened to a streaming service as of last week, according to the NPD Group. Of those, 71% listened to Pandora, 43% to YouTube and 23% to iHeartRadio. With only 5% listening to Spotify, it now also trails more recent streaming music entrants iTunes Radio and Google Play Music, which had 15% and 10% share, respectively, among smartphone listeners.
In an effort to boost adoption, Spotify in December said it would allow anyone to listen to music free on tablets and other mobile devices. Previously, a free, ad-supported version of the service, which has 6 million paying customers, was only available on PCs.