If you’re not paying Spotify $10 a month, the record labels want to put a squeeze on the amount of free music you listen to, according to new reports. Executives at the major studios are concerned that ad-supporting ‘freemium’ streaming just isn’t raking in enough cash for artists and others in the industry working to support them.
It’s a refrain we’ve heard repeated many times in recent months: In November, Taylor Swift called Spotify a “grand experiment” that she wasn’t willing to contribute her music to. Then a report earlier this year suggested as little as 6.8 percent of streaming music revenues make it to artists (mostly thanks to the labels). And there are rumors that Apple’s attempt to launch a cheaper streaming service has been rebuffed by the industry’s big players.
Now the Financial Times is reporting that Universal Music Group (the largest of the record labels) is renegotiating with Spotify — and it wants tighter restrictions on the amount of music users can access for free. For Universal, the ideal scenario is every Spotify user becoming a subscriber. “Ad-funded on-demand is not going to sustain the entire ecosystem of the creators as well as the investors,” said company CEO Lucian Grainge recently.
Universal isn’t the only label having second thoughts, according to Rolling Stone. “We need to accelerate the growth of paying subscribers — that’s a slightly more positive way of saying we need to limit free,” said one of the sources quoted in the article. “You can make the subscription service more attractive, with high-resolution sound or exclusive albums, or you can make the free version worse, by limiting the amount of stuff you can listen to.”
The number of users tuning in via streaming services continues to rise, but if you listen to music through Spotify, Rdio, Deezer or one of the other services without paying, make the most of it while you can — it sounds like you’ll be facing tighter restrictions in the near future.