Spotify will allow indie labels to hold new music behind paywall

Users of the free service could have to wait two weeks to listen to new music from independent labels

Users of Spotify’s free service may soon have to wait two weeks to listen to music from independent labels.

A new agreement between the streaming service and digital rights agency Merlin, who represent thousands of the world’s leading independent labels including XL, Domino and Warp, plus their associated subsidiaries, will see a ‘windowing’ option introduced. This means new albums will be available only to Spotify’s paying subscribers for the first two weeks after release.

The move is to designed to both encourage more users to pay for their Spotify subscriptions, thus generating more money for artist and label, and provide a more enticing offer to any artists out there who want to keep their music away from the service.


Spotify recently reached a similar agreement with Universal which allows the label group to hold back certain albums from the streaming service’s free tier, although no new album has yet utilised the windowing option. Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN’ was available to all Spotify users, free and paying, from the day of release onwards.

Merlin’s membership consists of more than 20,000 indie labels from 51 countries, including Beggars Group (Matador and XL among others), Domino, Merge, Epitaph/ANTI, Kobalt Music Recordings, Mad Decent, Naxos, [PIAS], Secretly Group (Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Dead Oceans), Sub Pop, and Warp.

Universal Music Group’s roster includes Taylor Swift, who famously said she was unwilling to “contribute my life’s work to an experiment” after withholding ‘1989’ and removing her existing music from the service in 2014, and Kayne West, who promised his album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be exclusive to Spotify rival Tidal, before relenting and allowing the service to host his album.