Looks like the music industry finally got its wish. In a renewed deal with Universal Music Group, Spotify agreed to let labels hold new releases from the service’s free tier for up to two weeks, giving paid subscribers priority access to new jams. This has been a sticking point in relations between Spotify and the music industry for some time, since ad-supported streaming generates less revenue than paid subscriptions. Thus far, Spotify has declined to play the expensive “album release exclusive game” that Apple Music and Tidal have famously (and controversially) embraced. This compromise, the industry hopes, will give free listeners an extra incentive to pay up for a subscription. That is, if they don’t opt to pirate the new stuff.
In exchange, Spotify scored a lower per-stream payout to UMG, which will help keep its massive costs under control ahead of its potential IPO later this year.