Listen up free-riding music fans.
You might soon find your favorite songs stuck behind a pay wall on Spotify, if not completely unavailable.
The music sharing app is considering allowing some artists to start releasing albums only to its 20 million-plus subscribers, who pay US$10 a month while withholding the music temporarily from the company’s 80 million free users.
Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify after a dispute over her new album 1989.
Swift withdrew her entire catalog because the streaming service would not bend on a core principle that all artists on the platform must make their music available to Spotify’s free users and its paying subscribers.
Now, the service is caving to pressure, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Initially, Spotify will try the new approach as a test, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It wants to investigate how such a “windowed” approach might affect usage and subscription sign-ups.
It also has yet to decide which artist will get to withhold music from the free service first, this person said, adding that the company is not ready to announce a permanent policy change yet.
Even on an experimental basis, it is a big reversal for Spotify, which has so far maintained unequivocally that its free, ad-supported service needed to have all the latest tunes so that it could compete with free sites such as Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube.
Spotify’s free users can pick albums or playlists they want to hear, but the songs are played in a shuffled order.
Subscribers, meantime, get unlimited, on-demand access to a catalog of more than 30 million songs.
“Our free service drives our paid service,” Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post last year after Swift’s decision to remove her music from the service.
The shift is a coup for major record labels that have been lobbying for more flexibility when it comes to releasing albums on Spotify.
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