As the streaming wars continue, it looks as if Spotify may be blackballing new releases that received exclusive release windows on other streaming services. Frank Ocean's "Blonde" album, which just appeared on Spotify, appears to have been buried on the streamer, despite being one of the most popular and highly anticipated new discs this year.
Several weeks ago, the New York Times and Bloomberg both reported that Spotify planned to implement a policy that essentially amounted to blackballing releases that had been given exclusively to other music streamers, such as Apple Music and Tidal, first.
The Times cited multiple unnamed music industry executives who confided that Spotify, "had told them that it had instituted a policy that music that had benefited from such deals on other services would not receive the same level of promotion once it arrived on Spotify; such music may not be as prominently featured or included in as many playlists."
In response to the reports, Spotify vehemently denied that it was planning to retaliate against material that had first been released on other streamers exclusively. However, if the company's treatment of Frank Ocean's new "Blonde" album is any example, it looks as if the company is doing just that.
Despite the fact that the album became available on Spotify this past weekend, it was almost impossible to find any indication of such. The album was not listed on Spotify's 500 top album releases, or even its list of the top 500 new hip hop album releases.
The album was also not placed or featured at all on the streamer's dedicated hip hop page, let alone the front Spotify splash page. In addition, not one song from Ocean's collection appeared on Spotify's 60 track "New Music Friday" playlist.
Anecdotal reports by hip hop listeners further revealed that songs from "Blonde" are not appearing on their recommended lists despite the fact that they are listening to artists with similar musical styles.
With Ocean's album being one of the hottest and most highly anticipated releases of the year, it seems clear that there was some sort of concerted attempt to deemphasize his appearance on Spotify.
The streamer has also made no secret of its distaste for the concept of exclusives in general recently, when Spotify executive Troy Carter stated that they are "bad for artists, bad for consumers and bad for the whole industry."
While the company has not yet formally commented on the reasons why Frank Ocean's "Blonde" album appears to have been buried, it looks as if the streamer is now sending a loud and clear warning to artists and labels who agree to such deals with rival streamers Apple Music and Tidal.