By Marc Hogan.
In a major change that has been rumored for weeks, Spotify announced today that it will give some artists the choice of restricting new albums to the streaming service’s paid subscribers for the first two weeks of release. The shift is part of a new licensing deal with Universal Music Group and only applies to Universal artists, for now. (Spotify has also been in negotiations with the other two major labels, Sony and Warner, the Financial Times reports.) “We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.
The option for artists to hold back some albums from Spotify’s free tier, known as “windowing,” has been a key issue in the music industry at least since Taylor Swift’s 2013 decision to remove her music from the streaming service altogether. In today's announcement, Universal chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge said that “the long-term success of Spotify, and others like it, is essential to the ecosystem’s enduring health.”
Spotify’s streaming rivals Apple and Tidal don’t offer a free tier. The major labels have recently been pushing against free services in hopes of boosting paid subscriptions. According to the latest numbers from the RIAA, free on-demand streaming services like YouTube and the free version of Spotify generated $469 million in revenues in the United States in 2016, compared with $2.5 billion for paid subscriptions.
This story originally appeared on Pitchfork.
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