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Free Spotify Users May Soon Have Limited Access to New Albums

Mounting pressure from record labels and artists like Taylor Swift may force the service to drop free major albums or cancel free streaming altogether.
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Rumor has it that Spotify's free music streaming service is about to undergo a radical overhaul — and unfortunately, it's not the kind of overhaul you'll like.

According to Digital Music News, the Swedish-based music service will soon shift toward a premium-only, gated access model. If the rumor is true, then this means in the near future certain albums may only be available to paying Spotify members, severely limiting the music available to customers that rely on the service's free tier.

Free Subscriptions Might Have Restricted Access to Big Albums

So if this comes true, what kind of limitations should listeners expect? A source close to Digital Music News described one scenario where free users would only have access to one or two songs from a high-profile album release, whereas paying subscribers could listen to the entire album without restrictions. Likewise, some new releases may only stream on Spotify's paid tier, either for a limited amount of time or indefinitely.

Music Labels and Artists Fighting Free Service

The rumor comes just as Spotify renegotiates its music licensing deals with Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros. Its current contracts are set to expire on October 1 and in order to keep the music labels onboard, Spotify may have to limit — or possibly kill — its free music streaming plan, which Sony and Universal argue generates less revenue than its paid plan, despite recent numbers suggesting the contrary.

The movement to end free music streaming gained momentum last year when Grammy-winner Taylor Swift abruptly pulled her music from Spotify, arguing that the company's free music streaming tier devalued her music catalog.

Competition from Apple's new Apple Music, which doesn't offer a free streaming tier, is also adding pressure to what has recently become a crowded, cutthroat market.

Would such limitations make you sign up for Spotify's premium plan, or would you be more likely to cancel your Spotify account altogether? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Senior Features Writer

With over a decade of experience covering technology, Louis Ramirez has written for CNET, Laptop, Gizmodo, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @louisramirez.
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7 comments
vnzjunk
Cable/Satellite industry talking heads in past. "We will NEVER offer ala-carte programming".......NEVER

Well they were wrong and subscription only music streaming will be also.
vnzjunk
I can accept the occasional unobtrusive adds interspersed in the streams from Spotify but premium only with only partial offerings is a non starter for me.
Pandora, Slacker, Shoutcast, Radionomy and I-Heart (and others) live streaming....my backups. Spotify can do whatever it wants as we have plenty of alternatives without being held hostages.
Riddermark
Spotify wont last if they do that.
redhookhorror
RIP Spotify, they do this they are all done.
lunchbeast
I'll cancel.
bhennon
The music industry is still grasping at straws hoping that the wheel-barrels full of cash will return just like the good ol' days. Remember when you had to buy a whole album of crap just to get the one song you wanted? Or sitting in front of the radio waiting for your song to get played?

If they would just get with the times, there is money to be made, but you may have to work for it by being creative, innovative, and give people what they want. ...... I know, pretty bizarre.

Adding additional restrictions and rules around when and where people can listen is not the answer.
snoonw
record companies own a big chunk of spotify which is valued at billions they wont do that
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