By: Nick Gambino

If you’re a non-paying user of Spotify because you think it’s not really that big a difference from a paying option, the streaming music giant is about to make some changes that might change your mind. Emphasis on “might.”

Contrary to Spotify’s apparently rigid stance on making new albums available to paid and free users at the same time, they have just struck a deal with Universal Music Group that’ll change that.

The new licensing deal gives UMG the option to release new albums only to premium users for the first two weeks, making a paid option a more enticing prospect. The deal also allows Spotify to reduce their royalty payments if they hit specific revenue targets.

This move will give a boost to a fledgling music industry that has only recently started to see an uptick again after struggling to transition into a digital medium.

Now of course Universal doesn’t represent all music or even every major artist or album but the deal does mean that Spotify’s other two major partners, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group, will probably be comfortable striking a similar deal.

Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, understands that this move was always inevitable. “We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible policy,” Ek said in a statement. “Starting today, Universal artists can choose to release new albums on premium only for two weeks, offering subscribers an earlier chance to explore the complete creative work, while the singles are available across Spotify for all our listeners to enjoy.”

This new flexible policy doesn’t mean UMG will decide to exercise it to the full length of the two weeks for every album but it does give them the option to use judgement based on demand and popularity of the artist.

Personally, I’m over the whole free option on Spotify. That option means you have to put up with ads, lower quality audio and an inability to listen offline. For a mere $10 a month I get full unhindered access to everything including a must-have offline option. It’s really not even a tough decision.

What do you think of the new Spotify/UMG deal? Smart move or will it cost them users? Let us know in the comments below!


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.