Digital businesses are starting to stow more and more content behind paywalls. The latest is Spotify, which now has a deal with one record label that makes new albums available only to Spotify Premium users for two weeks.
The deal is with Universal Music Group – owners of a bunch of other labels, and distributors for artists like Kanye West, Drake, Florence + The Machine, Adele, 5 Seconds of Summer, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Metallica ... the list is long.
It runs for multiple years and covers the globe, and both sides are excited about the chance to present new artists, grow the music industry, etc. etc. The stuff you'd expect. But there are two especially notable takeaways we spotted.
2 weeks on Spotify Premium only
As part of the deal, Universal artists can opt to have their albums available only to Spotify Premium users for two weeks.
That means if you're not paying for Spotify, you'd have to wait 14 days before being able to listen to the full new Maroon 5 album. The band's singles would still be available to everyone though, CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, said in the announcement.
This kind of business model – a free version that includes ads and interruptions, mixed with a pay subscription that has exclusive or early access to things – is going to become more common. Amazon has been doing it with the Nintendo Switch –when they get limited stock of the new console in, they make it available exclusively to Prime members, The Guardian reports. The company started it last year with some video game and film titles.
In a way, it's an expansion of the "freemium" model that has become common with mobile apps.
And more access to data
The Spotify-UMG agreement also gives the record company "unprecedented access to data," the announcement says.
What exactly that means isn't detailed, but the release says it will "[create] the foundation for new tools for artists and labels to expand, engage and build deeper connections with their fans."
They can also use it for things like that world map showing who listened to Prince music right after it became available.
The Verge says this deal with UMG sets the general parameters for Spotify to reach agreements with its two other big label partners, Warner Music and Sony Music.
And once those are done, it could be leading to an initial public offering (going public, like Snapchat did earlier this year).