Over the last year, Spotify has repeatedly gotten into high-profile spats with blockbuster artists based primarily on one policy: Spotify’s unwillingness to make some music available only to its paying subscribers.
Now the company is set to give in, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Hannah Karp.
“In private talks, Spotify has told music executives that it is planning to allow some artists to start releasing albums only to its 20 million-plus subscribers,” while leaving its free users out in the cold, Karp writes.
Spotify’s strict policy of only stocking music that its free users could also enjoy was a main reason that artists like Taylor Swift and Coldplay withheld their music from the service, either temporarily or permanently. Swift has been particularly vocal in criticising Spotify. She claims Spotify’s current policies don’t value her music in the proper way.
Swift initially denied Apple Music access to her albums because it was not going to pay artists during a free trial period, but later made up with the company and made her catalogue available on the platform (after the company met her demands). Spotify is, no doubt, hoping for a similar reconciliation — with Swift and artists who share her sentiments.
“Apple treated me like I was a voice of a creative community that they actually cared about,” Swift told Vanity Fair. “And I found it really ironic that the multibillion-dollar company reacted to criticism with humility, and the startup with no cash flow reacted to criticism like a corporate machine.”
Perhaps her opinion of Spotify will change as well, though the company has reportedly made clear that this policy will only roll out on a trial basis, according to The Wall Street Journal. Spotify executives want to see how it affects subscriptions.
This potential change should be welcome news for Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews, who has called free music on-demand an unsustainable business model, and sees it as a negative force in the industry. McAndrews is of the opinion that on-demand music should only exist in a premium tier.
Spotify issued the following the statement to Business Insider:
We are 100 per cent 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.