Despite comments to the contrary, Spotify has, in many ways, begun to function as a traditional label. Recently, they launched Spotify for Artists, which provides artists with the tools necessary to improve their reach, such as listener data, and the ability to submit music to Spotify’s editorial team for inclusion on the company’s vaunted playlists. Reports also indicate that Spotify has recently signed deals with independent artists and managers, establishing a direct relationship to talent and removing the label intermediary. As part of these deals, artists are getting the benefit of distribution and promotion, the draw of major labels, while still maintaining their ownership rights, something that almost always ends up in the hands of labels. While the dollar value of these deals is relatively insignificant, it can still be seen by the major labels as direct competition.
At the same time, new services such as YouTube Music, Google Play Music and Apple Music have emerged as serious competitors, the last of which just recently surpassed Spotify for the most U.S. paid subscribers.