If you happen to be using your Spotify account for free, there’s a chance you’ll soon miss out on any upcoming new releases from Coldplay, Adele or Kanye West.
The online music streaming service have announced a licensing deal with Universal Music Group, the largest record label in the world, allowing their artists to limit their releases to users with Premium accounts two weeks before free users, who currently make up 50 million of the total 100 million Spotify users.
Spotify, who had previously never provided streaming exclusives based on membership tiers, had pointedly stayed out of the slew of 2016’s streaming exclusives with artists like Beyoncé and Drake releasing their albums on services such as Apple Music.
Spotify spokesperson Jonathan Price at the time said that exclusives like these were bad for artists and fans alike: “Artists want as many fans as possible to hear the music, and fans want to hear the music they’re excited about.”
It’s thought now that the change of heart is due to Spotify looking to go public on the stock exchange and such a high-profile deal with a large music publishing group would aid in this process. Spotify may also be aiming to create a more amiable relationship with the music industry due to their controversially low pay-out in royalty fees, which amount to around 0.001 cents per play (most famously causing Taylor Swift to pull her entire catalog).
It helps too that streaming is now a key source for people to receive their music. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) calculated in 2016 that 51% of music revenue now comes from streaming services like Spotify.
While the free users will no doubt mourn the loss of full access to Spotify, ads or no ads, this recent move is undoubtedly where the streaming music industry is heading.