Taylor, Bowie & Beyond: How Peloton Will Continue Taking Stock Of Its Music Empire

Taylor Swift arrived for Christmas. A David Bowie artist series is dropping January 19. While Wall Street of late isn’t exactly lining up outside Peloton’s door, a swell of A-list music artists—or their estates—certainly seem to be.

It’s been a beat since analysts, or subscribers, have regarded Peloton as a pure fitness play. The company, founded in 2012, is as embedded in entertainment and culture as it is in working out. Look no further than sought-after instructor Cody Rigsby’s recent turn on Dancing With The Stars or HBO Max’s Sex And The City reboot And Just Like That, in which a Peloton bike had, let’s just say, an impactful cameo.

And music is at the heart of the empire. Both the Swift and Bowie series are big wins for the platform, which has worked with Beyonce, the Verzuz series and Usher, who popped in for a live cameo during his dance cardio set. Tiesto—whose “The Spirit” was Peloton’s biggest song of last year—Foo Fighters and Abba are among other artists who clicked in during 2021.

It’s been a steady, synchronous build since Peloton settled its contentious battle with music publishers two years ago to the tune of $49 million (the publishers had initially sought $300 million).

These days the company—which had 874,000 paying digital subscribers as of June 2021, a 176% jump from June 2020—and music creators are simpatico. Peloton not only ranks among the platforms providing the best pay out to artists, but has launched an opt-in portal through which independent artists, songwriters and producers can register to both share their work and ensure they get paid.


“They are amazing catalog and creative allies. All of our partners are jumping through hoops, literally daily, on the composition level to bring the best tracks into the platform,” says senior vice president of music Gwen Bethel Riley. 

“What’s really changed is now they see us as part of their digital strategy. So if they’re thinking of dropping a new album, like Taylor Swift, Peloton can step into that and be part of their digital strategy.”

While Peloton doesn’t share specifics of its artist deals, Riley says they take anywhere from three months to three years, noting of Swift and Bowie, “lets just say that both of them were very different time tables and that’s because they are very unique deals.”

Beyond its push to bring A listers into the fold, here are the other ways Peloton is amping its relationship with music artists:

Exclusive Remixes & Premieres 

The Bowie debut will be accompanied by an initial three remixes—from Honey Dijon (Let’s Dance), St. Vincent (It’s No Game, Pt 1) and TOKiMONSTA (Golden Years)—that will premiere exclusively on the platform for a 90-day window. 

Other artists, like Demi Lovato and Debbie Gibson in recent months, have been offering up tracks to be remixed by Peloton’s in-house DJ John Michael and DJ Skribble, and premiere on the platform. 

“We’ll be doing more of that in-house as we build our catalog of Peloton workout exclusives, not only producing the remix but designing the sound in-house,” says Riley.

“In the fifth dimension, David Bowie is smiling because all three of these artists are multimedia artists, and working with [his music] inspired everyone to push the walls,” she adds, noting the activation “has allowed us to transform our stages into an audio gallery and our creative campaign into a visual gallery.”

Digital Music Fest 

In July Peloton solidified rock star status with the first-of-its-kind, three-day All For One music fest, which featured 25 artists—Doja Cat, Imagine Dragons, Migos, Nas, Pearl Jam, Thomas Rhett, Tina Turner and Gwen Stefani among  them—and all 40 of its instructors. 

Rest assured, there will be another.

“You can extrapolate and think that was just year one,” Riley says. Her biggest takeaway? “There was a lot of engagement. There hasn’t really been that active and engaged participation where you’re working out, you’re having this festival excitement, and the crowd and music brought to you while you’re inside on your bike or your tread or on the mat.”

Aside from highlighting its entire instructor roster, Riley says the fest enabled emerging artists to shine as well. “It’s a great way to showcase the headline artists but also evolving talent and artists we’ve been working with for a long time and wanted to give a spotlight to,” she says.

Creator Outreach & Engagement

Peloton is also expanding the ways it interfaces with artists. The company created three apparel drops in concert with Beyonce’s Ivy Park, as well as a Queen merch collaboration for the holidays. It’s also building out its internal artist chats, where it pairs an instructor and musician to speak internally to the team. 

Those chats can lead down all sorts of roads. In the case of St. Vincent, who did a conversation for Women’s History Month last year, and TOKiMONSTA, who did a panel… to Bowie.

“We always have really interesting discussions and occasionally a little light will go off in your head,” Riley says. “I see our job as keeping an ongoing conversation with as many artists as we can, whether we’ve done something with them or we haven’t. Oftentimes we end up having a sustained relationship. It’s never one and done.”

The Tycoon Herald