Music fans who subscribe to the free tier of Spotify now face a new incentive to fork over a monthly fee and upgrade their accounts.
As part of a new licensing deal with Universal Music Group — the world’s largest record label — the popular streaming service announced today that it will give Universal artists the choice of restricting their new albums to paid subscribers for the first two weeks of release.
Known as “windowing,” the concept of record labels and artists holding back certain material from free subscribers has been a heated, complicated topic for years. If you recall, Taylor Swift yanked her material from Spotify in 2014 in a controversial move.
The companies are moving together in this new direction as they acknowledge that streaming “represents the majority of the business,” said CEO of Universal, Sir Lucian Grainge, quoted in an official statement. “Our challenge is transforming that upturn into sustainable growth … At UMG, we’ve not only reimagined distribution models and technologies, but entire business models. The only constants must be great music and fair compensation for artists and creators.”
Grainge also added that the long-term success of Spotify, and other streaming services, is “essential to the ecosystem’s enduring health.”
Daniel Ek, Chairman and CEO of Spotify, said in a statement that the partnership between Spotify and UMG “is built on a mutual love of music, creating value for artists and delivering for fans.”
So far, this deal will only apply to full-length albums and will be up to the artists’ discretion. Singles will continue to be available across all tiers.
However, other major music labels who have long wanted to place limits on Spotify’s free service, may follow down a similar path.
Currently, the monthly Premium account fees are $9.99 for individual accounts; $4.99 for students, and $14.99 for family plans.