The absurd escalation of the music streaming war, in one failed Katy Perry song

Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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When an international pop star puts out a new track—especially if it’s the first to hit the airwaves in a while—it usually draws glittering attention. Radio stations and streaming platforms, deeply interested in catering to huge fanbases, tend to hype new hits with flashy promotions and spots on featured playlists.

This wasn’t the case for ”Rise,” Katy Perry’s latest single.

“Rise” had a windowed (i.e. temporarily exclusive) premiere on iTunes and Apple Music on July 15, and then appeared on rival streaming service Spotify a week later—where it promptly did the opposite of its hopeful title. The song, which is Perry’s first major single in two years, didn’t even nudge into Spotify’s Global 200 until early August, according to a new Music Business Worldwide analysis. This, despite appearing extensively in NBC’s Olympics coverage.

The likely culprit: the intensifying feud between music streaming services.

Anonymous industry sources in a Bloomberg article last week claimed that Spotify has been regularly “burying” certain musicians on its platform as punishment for their exclusive deals with Apple Music or Jay Z’s Tidal. Spotify has responded with insistence that it’s never hidden certain artists from its search function; the company didn’t respond to the article’s second accusation that it has blackballed those artists from its top playlists.

Perry’s “Rise” has not been featured on Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits,” a playlist meant to spotlight new mainstream music, and it only appeared on “New Music Friday” weeks after it debuted on the platform. Previous Perry songs were featured prominently. The song’s lack of exposure on Spotify—which has 100 million active users around the world—seems to at least partially explain its poor performance. (Granted, the track itself could just have just been a flop with listeners; its catchy riff and upbeat theme is fairly in line with Perry’s other hits, though.) The singer’s last big single “Roar” topped international charts, but “Rise” sputtered out at No. 25 in the UK, No. 11 in the US, and No. 39 in Germany, doing even worse in most other markets.

As streaming becomes more and more popular, services in the field are getting increasingly snippy with one another. If Spotify’s antics are anything to go by, more and more artists—and labels, too—will get caught in the escalating crossfire.