Bad news for Spotify Free users.
It means that UMG will have the option to keep certain albums from the free tier for a two-week window after launch to encourage users to pay for a subscription, which generates more revenue for artist and label.
UMG’s roster features some of the world’s biggest artists, including Taylor Swift and Kanye West.
The clause comes as part of a new multi-year global license agreement between the two companies, which will also provide UMG with access to Spotify’s streaming data.
“We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.
“Starting today, Universal artists can choose to release new albums on premium only for two weeks, offering subscribers an earlier chance to explore the complete creative work, while the singles are available across Spotify for all our listeners to enjoy.”
Rumors have been circulating that Spotify may limit the music available to free users for several years now, but the UMG deal is the first time that Spotify has allowed any sort of release windowing on its platform.
With UMG now being given the option to keep certain releases off Spotify’s free tier at launch, it seems likely that similar deals with Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group will follow suit.