As we had previously reported, Spotify was expected to announce plans to limit certain albums to only paid subscribers. Today, a deal has been signed with Universal Music Group.
The new, multi-year global license agreement will give UMG the ability to offer their artist's new albums exclusively through Spotify for up to two weeks, per Billboard.
This "flexible release policy" will provide incentive for free users to upgrade their subscriptions, as full albums could be restricted to paying customers only on release day.
Up to this point, Spotify gave paid and non-paid users access to all the same songs, unlike Apple Music and Tidal, while paid users got extra benefits like ad-free and offline streaming.
The streaming service has not currently announced any similar deals with other record companies, allowing Universal Music Group to be the first organization to experiment with the flexible policy.
Spotify Chairman and CEO Daniel Ek credited the partnership to a "mutual love of music," claiming the move comes in the interest of the artists and fans alike.
"We will be working together to help break new artists and connect new and established artists with a broadening universe of fans in ways that will wow them both," Ek said in a statement. "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."
Ek also noted that the deal goes into action immediately, so your favorite band could already be preparing an exclusive unveiling. However, all singles will remain available to both free and paid users.
Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, Sir Lucian Grainge, dove into the importance of the business side of the deal.
"Today, streaming represents the majority of the business. Our challenge is transforming that upturn into sustainable growth. In a market this dynamic, one evolving more rapidly than ever before, success requires creative and continual re-evaluation of how best to bring artists’ music to fans. At UMG, we’ve not only re-imagined distribution models and technologies, but entire business models. The only constants must be great music and fair compensation for artists and creators. To that end, the long-term success of Spotify, and others like it, is essential to the ecosystem’s enduring health."
Spotify recently eclipsed 50 million paid users, and that number will likely continue to rise in wake of their plans to limit more content to paid subscribers.
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