Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Spotify Now Lets Indie Labels Put Albums Behind Two-Week Paywall

Spotify Now Lets Indie Labels Put Albums Behind Two-Week Paywall

Music streaming service Spotify said on Thursday it had struck a multi-year license agreement with Merlin, a digital rights agency for the independent label sector.

While it's certainly good that Spotify isn't struggling to keep its list of 30 million tracks available to listeners, the announcement notes labels under Merlin "can also participate in Spotify's recently announced flexible release policy".

Labels represented by Merlin include electronic-focused Armada, Beggars Group (whose sub-labels feature notable artists like Adele, Alabama Shakes, The National, Pavement, Beck, The Strokes and many more), the legendary Seattle-based Sub Pop and the punk-focused Epitaph. The agreement is also said to be "structured to reflect and promote the value of Merlin's collective offering of its members' repertoire, while offering improved marketing and advertising opportunities and enhanced access to data". UMG is one of the "big three" record labels, and it's likely that similar deals will be announced with Sony and Warner in the future.

Martin Mills, chairman, Merlin, added: "I'm delighted that Merlin has reached this new agreement with Spotify".

Spotify CEO Daniel EK tweeted: "Indie music has been a huge part of our success since day one & I am super happy to say we have a new, multi-year deal [with Merlin]". The agreement lets Spotify keep a sizable portion of indie artists streamable on the service.

In a joint statement, the two companies claimed the deal would "advance their partnership to ensure that streaming realises its full transformational potential for artists, labels and fans by delivering a comprehensive range of music experiences".

This means new releases can be made exclusive to paid Spotify subscribers for a period of time before becoming available to those who listen for free. Next stop: Sony and Warner? Music Week has approached both for comment.

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