According to Billboard, music marketing firm Linkfire has reportedly struck a deal with Apple Music to provide artists with additional attribution data from the streaming service.
The company's announcement in-part read: "Linkfire allows artists to create 'smart links' that direct fans to a landing page listing links to their music on different streaming services and retail sites. Under the new Apple Music deal, artists can now view data breaking down what fans listen to after clicking through to the service via the smart link. Indeed, though Linkfire has allowed artists to track click-throughs to streaming services from their smart links for some time, they’ve only recently been striking deals with streaming services including Pandora, Anghami and Boomplay to track fans' activities once they land there.
Artists can now view a detailed breakdown of Apple Music streaming activity by releases and geography -- the latter to "get a detailed picture" of their "worldwide fanbase" in order to better target tour dates and promotions. The specific release data includes both "direct products" (i.e. an artists’ own music) and "indirect products" (i.e. the music of other artists) that users listen to after clicking through the smart link.
Artists can “Discover which of their links, channels, and activities are actually driving streams on Apple Music, and where those streams are coming from. You can now match your off-platform campaigns with on-platform behavior and cut down on budget burners."
Notably, Linkfire states that in order for artists to see Apple Music streaming insights, they must place Apple Music in the No. 1 position on their landing pages or, alternatively, drive fans to Apple Music using direct-to-service links. Additionally, 10 or more Apple Music users must have taken the same action -- i.e. streaming one of the artists’ songs -- for activity on a particular release to show. For more read the Billboard report.
Shortly after the announcement, Linkfire was heavily criticized by marketing agency Motive Unknown’s boss Darren Hemmings who strongly criticized this condition on Twitter as presented below.
So Linkfire can now show you Apple Music streaming conversion insights... but only when Apple Music is placed #1 on your links and landing pages.— 👊🏻🎧 Mr Trick 🎧👊🏻 (@mr_trick) November 14, 2019
If true, that is some next-level strong-arming bullshit right there. This should be illegal under anti-competitive behaviour laws. pic.twitter.com/eFk3UFx8gU
It’s worth noting that since Hemmings’ tweets yesterday, the page on Linkfire’s Help Centre about the Apple deal appears to have been updated. Where it did say "Streaming numbers from Apple Music are available when Apple Music is placed #1 on your links and landing pages," now it reads "Streaming numbers from Apple Music are available when Apple Music is placed #1 on your landing page links OR You drive fans directly to Apple Music using direct-to-service links."
Hemmings has also published a blog post this afternoon titled "Apple, please don’t make artists and D2C the victims in your battle for dominance," where he set out his concerns at more length. Hemmings wrote "Apple is placing artists and Direct-To-Consumer retail in the middle of its battle for dominance with Spotify."
Hemmings added that "If artists dare to place a D2C store above Apple Music on Linkfire, they will not see valuable conversion data. The consumer doesn’t lose out here: they will still see the list of links, and if we’re being honest, the order in which they appear is unlikely to have much effect on what people click on. A Spotify user will click on the Spotify link, an Apple Music user on the Apple Music one and so on. The only victims here are the artists and their teams working to get the best possible results for a release."
Music:)ally added that "Linkfire deserves credit for bringing Apple Music in to play, and Apple Music does too for opening up its data. But it’s also right for marketers to challenge the top-placement requirement: it may not be an antitrust issue – although Spotify’s public-policy team’s ears will have pricked up at the news – but the fewer conditions attached to the opening-up of DSP data, the better."
Knowing Spotify, a formal complaint will either be made public shortly or sent to the EU commissioner Vestager as another reason to punish Apple.
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "Just as Spotify Tests a Lyrics Service to Copy Apple Music, Apple's Lyrics Service Patent Surfaces." While Spotify has the global lead over Apple, the company is super sensitive to any move Apple makes that has the potential of rocking the boat Apple's way.
Spotify either tries to quickly match a new Apple feature or quickly complain to Government Antitrust commissions in Europe and the United States to stop Apple from having a competitive advantage.