Spotify may allow some artists to restrict music to paid subscribers

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By Larry Banks

According to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Spotify has informed music executives of a possible change in policy that would allow paying subscribers only to play certain new releases, and free at a later date. At the moment, the company requires that musicians release music to free and paying subscribers.

Spotify to adopt “windowing” strategy

The new policy is called “windowing” and could come into effect as a test to see how it impacts subscriber numbers and sign-ups. The report claims that Spotify currently has 20 million paying subscribers at $10 per month, with another 80 million on the ad-supported music tier.

Talks are apparently still ongoing, but sources say the music streaming service has already reached a tentative deal to apply the policy to Coldplay’s new album “Head Full of Dreams”, but negotiations stalled after the band could not guarantee its songs would not be available elsewhere such as on YouTube.

The change in Spotify’s strategy is said to be in response to pressure from pay-for services such as Apple Music, which recently gained exclusive launch day access to Taylor Swift’s album “1989” earlier this year. Musicians are becoming wary of streaming music services and royalty payout arrangements, which are apparently less lucrative than pure digital downloads and far lagging behind physical album sales.

Swift, who has stated she supports ‘sustainable’ artist royalties, removed her catalogue from Spotify last year after the two fell out over the release of 1989. She wanted the company to limit listening to paid-only subscribers in the US, and free for weaker-performing countries. Spotify didn’t agree to the deal and pulled her entire catalogue.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal

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