Spotify Said to Let Some Artists Release Music on Paid-Only Tier

Spotify Chief Content Officer Ken Parks News Conference
Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
  • Major concession to record labels that want streaming revenue
  • Taylor Swift, Coldplay recently withheld albums from Spotify

Spotify Ltd. will let some artists offer their new releases only on its paid service for a period of time, according to people with knowledge of the matter, in a major concession to music labels.

The move, described as a test by the people, is a departure from the company’s current practice of requiring all music to be available on both its free streaming service and the monthly paid version. They asked not to be identified discussing a matter that hasn’t been announced.

Spotify is backing down after pressure from record companies and artists such as Taylor Swift and Coldplay, who have withheld records from free services in a push to generate more revenue from music streaming. The industry has withered over the past decade because of piracy and the shift to online listening -- most recently with free streaming, which cut into download sales from Apple Inc.’s iTunes store.

The most recent band to skip free streaming was Coldplay, which released “A Head Full of Dreams” last week but kept it off of Spotify. That album will be available on both the free and paid versions of the streaming service this week, Spotify said.

“We explored a wide range of promotional options for the new Coldplay album and ultimately decided, together with management, that Coldplay and its fans would best be served with the full album on both free and premium this Friday,” Spotify said Tuesday in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported Spotify’s decision earlier Tuesday.

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