As music goes missing, Spotify and Polydor blame each other

3 December 2010

spotify-logoIf you’re a music fan, you might regard Spotify as the best thing that’s ever gone in your ears. But problems over the availability of certain tracks are a constant niggle. Take That fans who are Spotify Premium members have been angered by the disappearance of the band’s latest album from the service, one of several high profile releases that have been added to the Spotify catalogue, only to mysteriously disappear a few days later.

When users are paying £9.99 per month to access the Premium service, and the music that’s being removed includes the fastest selling album of the decade, that seems mighty unfair.

Avid Bitterwallet reader Jessica has followed Gary, Robbie and the other three from boyband to manband, and from cassette to CD to iTunes to Spotify. So she was quick to store Take That’s Progress album on her iPhone via her Spotify Premium account, but after only a few days of listening, the album disappeared, with Spotify telling her it was no longer available via the service.

“It’s really frustrating, and it seems to be happening a lot,” she says. “Spotify has changed how I buy and listen to music, and I pay for Premium so that I don’t have to download albums from iTunes, but now I’m having to do both.”

Take That's new album isn't the only one to have been removed; several others - all released by record label Polydor - have also disappeared days after being added to the service. A check through the Spotify catalogue reveals a clear pattern of Polydor albums being removed shortly after their release.

The Take That album was released on 15 November, and became available to Spotify users during that week; Spotify even tweeted fans a link to the album. But by last weekend it had disappeared from Spotify’s UK catalogue. Other high-profile Polydor albums that were briefly available on Spotify before being pulled include Cheryl Cole’s Messy Little Raindrops and Headlines by The Saturdays.

Another Spotify user, Steve Brammer, has also been riled by the situation. “It appears to be some kind of misguided marketing strategy,” he told us. “If Spotify was only a free service then the argument for removing newly released tracks after a short time would hold more water. When a service is free, you get what you’re given and can’t complain too much."

"If the record companies think that people who are already paying £10 a month are also going to go out and buy an album either on CD or from iTunes because it has been removed from Spotify, then they are sorely mistaken. All they are doing is pissing people off and making Spotify a less attractive deal.”

Polydor is owned by Universal Music Group, one of the major companies that Spotify promotes as a partner on its website. Yet Spotify’s catalogue seems to be controlled at the whim of the labels, even where distribution agreements exist. Spotify told Bitterwallet:

“From time to time we’re asked by rights holders to withdraw certain albums from the service. It’s never in our interest to remove music as we want to provide our users with the biggest possible catalogue. We sincerely apologise to any Spotify users whose service has been disrupted.”

As for Polydor, they’ve firmly pushed the blame back in Spotify’s direction, claiming to be unaware that some of their biggest releases had been removed from the service. The label told us:

"We delivered these albums to Spotify to be uploaded onto Premium from release date and the fact they are not currently there is something we are working with Spotify to resolve. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

To be clear, is it absolutely not a deliberate tactic or marketing ploy to make new albums available on Spotify on release and then remove them a few days later. We are big supporters of Spotify but it is a fairly new service and we are still fine tuning the best way to work with them from a technical/operational perspective and in a way which works best for fans and artists.”

Polydor is currently promoting recent releases The Beginning by The Black Eyed Peas and Duffy’s Endlessly, both of which are available on Spotify. But for how long?

As for Spotify, a failure to retain high profile new releases may restrict its subscriber base. “I can only see losers when tracks are removed from Spotify,” says Steve Brammer. “The artist, record label, publisher, distributor and Spotify themselves all lose a moneymaking opportunity.” And the biggest losers seem to be Spotify subscribers, who are paying for content that can disappear without warning.

27 comments

  • Nobby
    This just helps push illegal downloads. When you pay it is available, then it is removed. So you go looking elsewhere for another copy ...
  • nig
    so what? Take that are shite and "avid take that fans" are retarded
  • andy y.
    don't throw stones in greenhouses mate
  • scott
    @nig Well said. absolute fucktards the lot of them When i reach the age were i feel like having a "derek bird" moment The members of the the "Take Shite" band are getting both bores unloaded in there piss chewing faces!!
  • Slacker
    All this downloading malarkey makes me laugh. People pay through the nose for crappy compressed audio files*, often ending up paying more that it would cost to buy the better-sounding CD. The record companies are laughing all the way to the bank - they sell a substandard product without any manufacturing costs, usually for the same price as a CD with a printed booklet, proving the old adage that there really is one born every minute. * although if you're listening on some iWank or other through those shitty little headphones I don't suppose audio fidelity is high on your list of priorities
  • -]
    Spotify = wank, what do you expect? They screw fans, they screw labels (although few of us have sympathy for them) and they screw artists (almost as much as the labels do). Fuck em!
  • zeddy
    @Scott: You don't understand irony, do you?
  • Roger B.
    Thank fuck the pirates never let you down.
  • Mike
    As a Spotify Premium subscriber and not a Take That fan in any form it has got a bit dodgy of late. I've had about 5% of all my tracks become unavailable that were previously. And its far from just shit pop that is getting removed FYI.
  • Roger
    It is obvious that the label companies are removing these new albums just because they think they can sell more during the holiday season! I hope they come to understand that they are hurting both themselves and Spotify!
  • Walter
    I have the same experience. Nearly all my playlists now contain holes where once I could play all the tracks. This is across the breadth of the musical spectrum: classical, Early Music, Jazz, World... Very annoying. If this is becoming Spotify's new policy, I will consider pulling my premium subscription alltogether.
  • LAurent
    I'm a premium member, and every playlist I enjoyed is now full of holes… Walter, +1
  • Rachel
    Frustration Nation-Soooo many songs are now missing!!!!! It's not on!!!
  • Alex
    Hello, please need somebody to pay me with GB card Premium Spofity. I can send money by paypal. Will send little be more for beer. Thank you
  • Malcolm X.
    I work for polydor
  • Shazam! B.
    [...] for music lovers, but there’s still the ongoing issue of tracks been routinely pulled from Spotify (although Spotify and the record labels point the finger at one another over who’s to blame). [...]
  • Mark H.
    Well the new Take That album was re-added so everyone can rest easy again.
  • Spotify B.
    [...] are still issues with the service; as we’ve mentioned before, it’s not unusual to see whole albums disappear from Spotify, even for Premium users paying a tenner a month. But there have been changes, even for free users; [...]
  • Zymotik
    I am a Spotify premium subscriber that is seriously considering ending my social/cloud music service agreement. I purchased a Spotify account after I wanted to give something back to artists that I would otherwise just ‘download’ the work of. If tracks in my collection keep getting removed, I am unwilling to keep a Spotify account and an iTunes account. I want my music in one place. They need to sort this out or it will fail.
  • Goodguy
    Spotify going subscriber only....? ok so I have been paying for spotify since day 1 almost. Wanted to support the great effort in simplifying legal streaming of music. But whats up with the disappearing albums? Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul (I and II) - gone Blackfield albums?? The Pinapple Thief? Katatonia and more.... Gonna just go play my music on http://listen.grooveshark.com/ (irritated..)
  • Patvag
    I'm really pissed! I've spent hours and hours of putting together our playlist and it's now full of holes. It is impossible to remember all the missing songs and artists as they where added when playing around in "simililar artists" and "friends playlists" THIS IS A BIG LOSS! Why didn't SPOTIFY leave the playlists intact with the names and songs but without the possibility to play it. In that way I would have the possibility to find it elsewere. Now its gone forewer.
  • Stuff o.
    [...] Read the full post at Bitterwallet. [...]
  • Why n.
    [...] music library. Or, if Spotify tries to stand up for its users, the labels can just pull the songs and those songs simply disappear. Here’s what one user in the U.K. had to say about that: “It’s really [...]
  • Andy
    Yeah if people are paying £10 a month for spotify and an album is not there, they are just going to illigally download it and not buy it! mainly because they feel cheated!
  • Quich
    @Andy exactly, when i can't find an album on Spotify i just download it illegally & sync it to my phone. it makes me laugh that they actually think people will pay an extra £7 for an album just because they removed it.
  • youtube.com
    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Thank you!
  • Stunami
    For all of you who think artists and publishers are making money hand over fist from Spotify are delusional. Ask any artist how much money they get for each played track. Spotify uses premium accounts to not only pay out radio play royalties (not the same as buying the CD) they must use that money to fund technology, maintenance and administration. $10 a month to access 100s of thousands of records on demand cant be profitable for the publishers and artists at all. Do the math when ONE record costs that much. New crappy commercial mainstream artists are no concern of mine since their music is mindless vanity. What irks me are the older albums that would normally be out of print or more underground music that I love to discover are disappearing too. Albums and artists that big money publishers or media do not give much attention to. Why are those disappearing? Surely not many people are buying the CDs anymore. At least with Spotify they can be rediscovered and promoted through user playlists.

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