Why Spotify Shouldn't Put Taylor Swift Behind the Paywall

Is this how people will finally get Taylor Swift on Spotify?

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Spotify has steadfastly maintained its commitment to two offerings: Free and Premium. But that’s led artists like Adele and Taylor Swift to keep their incredibly popular music off the service because they don’t want it accessed for free.

As a result, Spotify may cave in to the demand for their music and allow certain artists’ catalogs to be available only for premium users, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The question remains, however, why would somebody buy a monthly Spotify subscription to access a particular album when she could buy that LP once for a similar price and keep using basic Spotify for free?

In theory, Spotify’s plan makes sense. Adele sold 4.5 million copies of her new album 25, breaking every first-week sales record in the process. But 25* isn’t available to stream, so Spotify saw no gain from her success, something they’d likely want to change in the future. The answer, it seems, would be getting albums like 25 — or Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams, for that matter, which the band has kept off Spotify temporarily — into Spotify’s catalog.

In addition, Spotify’s Chief Executive Daniel Ek has said, “our free service drives our paid service,” in the past. Well, adding premium-exclusive options does not seem to fit that company ethos. What it does do, however, is satisfy the record companies who benefit more directly from artists’ catalogs than the actual artists. Spotify has already paid $30 billion to rights-holders to fill up the 30-million-song catalog. And it does not matter how many spins each song gets. Once it’s in, the label benefits; it’s the artist who has to worry about popularity.

Adding in premium-exclusive options would not greatly change the Spotify experience. The only feasible way the service could entice free users to pony up and drop $9.99 a month for premium is to start taking away a lot of previously available music. You can’t miss 25 on Spotify because it was never there. But if every song you ever loved disappeared, a loyal user would likely pay. Considering the rise of Taylor Swift-carrying Apple Music, however, it would be hard for Spotify to justify strong-arming its customers into paying when they could easily leave.

For now, keeping specific artists, albums, and songs behind a paywall is just a consideration. It’s unclear whether it will ever become a reality, as it makes little sense for both Spotify and its customers.

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