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The pay wall is coming: Spotify looks to add paid-only tier of tunes

Hot on the heels of some recent Radiohead additions to Spotify — the band’s popular 2005 album In Rainbows landed on the service Friday, and their latest release, A Moon Shaped Pool, will be listenable there in one week — it seems that Spotify will rethink its everyone-gets-everything model.

The Swedish streamer has long made all music on its service available to both paid and subscribers and those who don’t pay, but was actually looking to change that formula for the most recent Radiohead record. However, it found itself unable to do so in time for the planned streaming release.

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Spotify’s head of policy, Jonathan Prince, said that A Moon Shaped Pool was almost the first paid-tier-only release on the service, but that the company didn’t have time to implement the technology to make that happen, according to Music Ally.

“We’re always looking for new ways to create a better experience for our free and paying listeners, and to maximize the value of both tiers for artists and their labels. We explored a variety of ways to do that in conjunction with the release of Radiohead’s latest album,” Prince said. “We ultimately decided that we couldn’t deliver on those approaches technologically in time for the album’s release schedule.”

The change in release style, in which albums will likely be made available to paid subscribers for a certain amount of time before trickling down to users who don’t pay, may be the first step in a long-term plan to create a paid-only service — which has been expected by the industry for some time.

Creating a tier of paid-only releases will also help Spotify compete with the recent exclusive-based subscriber jumps seen by Apple Music and, to a lesser extent, Tidal. The Swedish company recently hired Lady Gaga’s former manager, Troy Carter, to go after more exclusive releases, which could see paid-only releases, as well as to form more partnerships with high-profile artists.

As Spotify prepares to go public in the imminent future, it will need to fuel incentives for paid subscriptions, and attempt to get revenue as close to the black as possible, or else it will have trouble enticing would-be stock purchasers to buy in.