Spotify May Let Artists Decide If Albums Are Available for Free

By Darren Orf on at

Spotify’s freemium pay structure has always been an amazing deal. All the music you could want as long as you have patience for the occasional advert. All free. But according to the Wall Street Journal, Spotify might let artists choose whether albums live behind a Premium subscription paywall.

Currently, talks seem to be in some kind of “what if” testing stage, as WSJ reports:

The company is initially trying the new approach as a test, according to a person familiar with the matter. It wants to investigate how such a “windowed” approach might affect usage and subscription sign-ups but hasn’t decided which artist will first get to withhold music from the free service, this person added, and the company isn’t ready to announce a permanent policy change.

This policy change, which would be a big one for Spotify, who’s always offered up the same catalogue to free users as its Premium subscribers, sounds like an effort to stop artists from leaving the platform. Taylor Swift peaced earlier this year, and Adele didn’t even bother. More options for artists, most likely reserved for the biggest names at first, could put some music labels’ music streaming fears at ease.

However, WSJ says the current plan would only be a temporary embargo on new music for free users. But exactly how temporary it would be isn’t certain. Spotify wouldn’t comment on this specific information but reiterated a statement made by Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s Global Head of Communications, related to a recent conversation about whether Spotify would put Coldplay’s new album behind a paywall:

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.

But the real question is whether this created paywall will cause free users to abandon the platform en masse, and it’s an answer it seems Spotify is interested in figuring out.