On Exclusives and Windowing

Jonathan Galkin, Co-Founder of DFA Records, in PIAS Blog:

“All of these ‘streaming exclusives’ are for the 1%. This is not my fight. It sort of feels awful all around, regardless of the scale of the artist. It’s like having to join a gym in order to buy a pair of sneakers.

“This is the least democratic way to hear discuss and enjoy new music. It shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt to find an album, and albums shouldn’t be used as bait to build tech companies.

“But, you know, good for Kanye and Drake and Beyonce. But it leaves little room to focus on the discovery of new music, which is what DFA is all about.”


Music Business Worldwide:

Per Sundin (Universal): “It’s exactly what happened in the US with physical product. Best Buy said, we’re going to buy 2m AC/DC albums, and it was: ‘Wow, 2m albums.’ But eventually when you looked at the real record stores, the Towers that closed and others, you’re killing the people who feed you.”

Mark Dennis (Sony): “It’s the wrong thing, without a doubt. People who believe that exclusives are going to bring the market forward are the most naive people in the world. We have to learn from what’s happened in the past: when people haven’t been able to consume music in the way they want, they turn to piracy. We’re just not learning! We’ve got to be realistic. What will move the market forward is having content across all platforms, giving the consumer the ability to make their decision and use great products.”


So, not much love for streaming exclusives. However, windowing may soon have a new champion. Via Music Ally:

With no free tier, Apple Music has been able to pitch itself as a premium-only option for album releases, as has Tidal. SoundCloud, meanwhile, made premium-windowing part of the industry pitch for its recently-launched SoundCloud Go subscription tier.

Sources have told Music Ally that Spotify was in advanced discussions with Radiohead’s management company Courtyard and label XL Recordings about a deal to make A Moon Shaped Pool the first album to be windowed to premium subscribers on the service.

“We are always looking for new ways to create a better experience for our free and paying listeners, and to maximise the value of both tiers for artists and their labels. We explored a variety of ways to do that in conjunction with the release of Radiohead’s latest album,” said {Jonathan} Prince {of Spotify}.

“Some of the approaches we explored with Radiohead were new, and we ultimately decided that we couldn’t deliver on those approaches technologically in time for the album’s release schedule.”

Reading between the lines of Prince’s statement, it seems that this is less a case of getting cold feet about premium windowing, and more a case of Spotify wanting to make sure the technology to make it work was robust.