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Spotify expands merch to beauty products, sells out tickets for Who We Be


Spotify, the $16 billion digital music “startup” that is hotly tipped for an IPO, continues to lay the groundwork to diversify its platform beyond basic streaming. In the latest developments, the company is going to start selling beauty products. Yes, you read that right, you can now buy makeup on Spotify.

The new service is the latest expansion of Spotify’s partnership with Merchbar, which Spotify started working with last year to sell artists’ merchandise on their profile pages. Working with popular make up artist Pat McGrath and musician Maggie Lindemann, Merchbar is now moving into areas adjacent to direct merchandise, so that fans can ‘shop the look’ of a particular artist, a large theme for how products are sold on other social media sites like Instagram.

“In this digitally-empowered, digital era of make-up, where fans crave instant glamour gratification I always want to reach fans where they’re most engaged. That’s why this relationship with Spotify is absolutely major, because it merges beauty and music in a whole new way, that’s never been done before,” said McGrath in a statement. “I’m thrilled to see it finally come to life.”

McGrath — a makeup artist to the stars with a huge social media presence — has her own business, Pat McGrath Labs, and it will be kicking off the partnership selling three shades of her lipstick, each retailing for $22, as well as an eye pencil for £18.95 (UK price), among other items.

Lindemann is also launching a new single to coincide with the launch.

To be clear, this is not a new revenue stream for Spotify, which does not take a cut of any of the sales that happen through the platform. The idea, instead, is to sweeten the deal for artists and give them more opportunities to make money on Spotify beyond streaming.

This is an important effort, since Spotify has been accused by some as being a struggle as far as making money from music goes, because the royalties that get collected on song plays amount to small numbers for anyone but the most popular artists (and even these have complained). And so the company has been on a long campaign to turn that image around. (It’s also made acquisitions that point to how it might also help artists market themselves to improve their business prospects.)

It’s also helping artists in other ways, which may well be requiring more investment and getting more returns than the merchandising effort for Spotify. Earlier this year, Spotify launched a new concert event in London, Who We Be (based on one of its popular playlists) and just today announced it had sold out tickets. It has similarly sold tickets in the U.S. for RapCaviar Live, a six-city hip hop tour also tied in with music on its platform. While ticketing turned out to be a complicated business for the likes of Pandora, which eventually sold off its Ticketfly business, this is a sign of how Spotify might be looking, as with the merchandising, to develop these adjacent areas as a way to build its community first, before it makes more comprehensive moves into other business lines.

Spotify would not comment on whether the beauty launch with McGrath will be the first of many such partnerships, or whether McGrath or Merchbar will be expanding the range of items on offer.

More to the point, it’s a signal of how Spotify, which now has over 60 million paying users, and over 140 million users overall (including those who listen ad-supported, for free), is trying to leverage its audience to expand the horizons for business people on its community — which in Spotify translates to musicians.

“Maggie Lindemann is an extremely exciting young artist, with over 7 million fans listening to her all over the world every month on Spotify,” said Jordan Gremli, Spotify’s Head of Artist and Fan Development, in a statemet. “In partnering with Pat McGrath to offer beauty products in this innovative new way, she will be connecting directly with her fans in the place where they go to enjoy her music already on Spotify.”

While Spotify is not getting a cut on these sales, it could help the company keep artists dedicated to using it for their marketing efforts, and users coming back to do more on the platform than just listen to music, remaining sticky on both sides of its marketplace.


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