Spotify is considering letting some artists release albums on the service for its paid subscribers only, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The decision comes after the streaming company missed out on a number of high-profile releases due to its insistence on offering all of the music on the service to its free, ad-supported tier. Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalog last year before the release of her blockbuster 1989, and Adele adopted a similar strategy by withholding 25 from the service after they wouldn’t allow her record to be accessed by paid subscribers only.
The article makes it sound like the decision may have been brought about by Coldplay: Apparently, Spotify tentatively agreed to allow them to put out their new album, A Head Full Of Dreams, on the paid service tier only for a few weeks, but ended up not going through with it. Instead, the album (which was released last Friday) will stream on the service at the end of this week.
Spotify “will try the new approach as a test,” WSJ reports, and “it wants to investigate how such a ‘windowed’ approach might affect usage and subscription sign-ups” before committing to a permanent policy change.
After the story broke, Spotify issued the following statement to The Verge, which simultaneously seems to cover them in case their plan doesn’t work out and leaves the option open for “a more robust premium tier”:
We are 100 percent committed to our model because we believe that a free, ad-supported tier combined with a more robust premium tier is the best way to deliver music to fans, create value for artists and songwriters, and grow the industry. In that context, we explored a wide range of promotional options for the new Coldplay album and ultimately decided, together with management, that Coldplay and its fans would best be served with the full album on both free and premium this Friday.