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Spotify May Block Users From Listening to Top Hits Unless They Pay to Subscribe

Taylor Swift refused to put her new album on Spotify in 2015.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

People who use Spotify without paying may be blocked from listening to some of the hottest new music on the platform, according to a new report from The Financial Times.

The music streaming service is reportedly nearing a new deal with the major music labels. And one part of that deal would—on a temporary basis—make some of the top releases on the platform available only to users who have paid for subscriptions. So the next Frank Ocean album, say, might become available on Spotify—but unless you’ve paid for a subscription, you’ll have to wait a while before you can actually listen to it.


These negotiations with labels are essential to Spotify’s future plans. The Swedish company plans to go public, but first it needs certainty about the terms on which it uses the major labels’ music on its platform. Spotify has been long resistant to the idea of restricting some of its music to just its paid subscribers. But according to the FT, it has received a concession in return—it will pay less to the labels in royalty fees on each song.


Taylor Swift refused to put her new album on the platform in 2015 because the company would not restrict it to premium-only users, an incident that sparked heated debate over how music should be valued and whether ad-supported music streaming services pay artists properly. Competitors, like Apple Music, do not offer a free tier at all—though it does provide temporary free trials to potential subscribers.

The negotiations, with Universal, Sony, and Warner, could reportedly be completed within weeks.

Spotify currently has more than 50 million paid subscribers, according to its site, and over 100 million overall. There are more than 30 million songs on the platform.

A spokesperson declined to comment to Business Insider.

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