More details on KCRW’s ‘exclusive’ arrangement with Spotify

By Andrew Lapin

When the popular Internet music-streaming service Spotify launches its improved Follow feature in early 2013, KCRW in Los Angeles will be the platform’s sole featured user from terrestrial radio.

The exclusive partnership, which the station announced Dec. 6, will let Spotify’s U.S. users “follow” KCRW’s music staff, receiving instant notification when they post songs and curate playlists. As with all of Spotify’s promotional partners, KCRW will receive no financial compensation for the partnership. (Under Spotify’s business model, artists receive a small cut when their songs are played on the platform.)

“We wanted to partner with authentic voices,” Spotify spokesperson Graham James told Current. “KCRW is definitely an organization that has an authentic music voice. . . . We’re all a bunch of music nerds here. They are big in this space.”

KCRW was also the first public radio station to release a Spotify app. The KCRW Music Mine app was built by the Public Radio Exchange and consistently ranks among Spotify’s most popular apps.

Betsy Moyer, director of digital content strategy at KCRW, explained that while Music Mine’s playlists are entirely automated, being a Spotify featured user will allow the station’s DJs to manually curate more mixes for listeners.

Though Spotify, which was founded in Sweden in 2006, has 20 million worldwide users, only those in the United States will be able to follow KCRW. As for the national exposure the increased presence will bring, Moyer said the station welcomes the opportunity to further expand its audience beyond Southern California.

“We’ve never considered ourselves just a local radio station, and our music programming has always had an international appeal and audience,” Moyer said, pointing to increased exposure as KCRW’s chief motivator. “Spotify allows us to deliver our sensibility to a new culture of music consumers who are accustomed to navigating streaming services with an overwhelming amount of music at their fingertips.”

Spotify also will feature music-media outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard and Pitchfork in its new Follow service. KCRW’s exclusivity deal will not prevent other radio stations from joining the Follow service after its launch, James said.

“That just makes it a more special experience for them. This is just for the launch,” James said. “We are not blocking anyone out of it, but in terms of a partnership we wanted to work with KCRW because we had partnered with them before [on the app].”

Questions, comments, tips? lapin@current.org
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