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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. Photo by Bloomberg.

Spotify’s Real Challenge

Photo: Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. Photo by Bloomberg.

If the past few days have proved anything, it’s that reporters pay more attention to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell than do investors. After rising 13% today amid a broader market upswing, Spotify shares are now back to where they were trading before Neil Young pulled his music off the service last week in protest over its hosting of Joe Rogan and his Covid-19 commentary. Yet nothing has changed. Despite Rogan’s promise to be more careful, Young’s music remains off Spotify. Last week’s sell-off in the stock, quite obviously, was all about the market and not about Young. 

That makes sense. As we noted last week, unless a flood of artists with younger followings also defects, Spotify’s business likely won’t be affected. But what this drama has done is remind everyone how commoditized Spotify’s main product is. Because Spotify doesn’t own the music it streams—unlike a video-streaming service such as Netflix, which makes many of the shows on its service—it is vulnerable when an artist like Neil Young pulls his music. Consumers can listen to Young’s songs on many other services, as articles like this point out. 

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