You’re listening to Spotify right now, aren’t you? Are you on the free tier or the paid? Chances are you’re freeloading and cringe-listening to ads interrupt your spin session with Outkast’s Aquemini. While Spotify boasts over 60 Million users in total, only 15 million are paying subscribers. And that means Spotify, and artists aren’t getting as much cash out of that userbase as they need to.
Citing “sources” one at least one publication says that Spotify is considering withholding some content from non-paying users. For example: a new Coldplay album launches. Subscribers get it instantly and in its entirety. Freeloaders would only get a couple of songs to start.
As more and more musicians speak out (most famously and recently with Taylor Swift) against streaming music services and the way they treat artists, Spotify is seeing things differently these days. While they originally thought they’d never have to “gate” content from users with a paywall, they’re considering doing just that.
The music industry has led the way with copyright quagmires in this brave new digital world. First there was Napster, then came torrents and now we’re dealing with licensing deals on Spotify. Will streaming video be next? How long will AMC allow their content to be streamed on Netflix? HBO and Showtime have already pulled their content from all streaming platforms but their own. Is FX next? Netflix, Hulu and Amazon may end up paying more for this content before all is said and done. That may cause them to raise prices (again) or be forced to make their own content (and they are).
The streaming licensing universe is very young and there will be some growing pains. Let’s hope when everything shakes out we’ll have a few competitive, simple, fairly priced streaming solutions for both music and video content.