Universal pressures Spotify to restrict ad-driven ‘free’ music service

The world’s largest music conglomerate, Universal, is trying to pressure Spotify to limit advertising-paid on-demand music streaming — despite the fact that Spotify is the most successful streaming company at signing subscribers and counts its fee-less ad-driven tier as an important pathway to later subscription.

Is Universal, perhaps quite reasonably, concerned with Spot’s relatively low per-stream rate (vis a vis other providers like Google All Access, Rdio, Beats, et al) or are they more concerned that increased ‘free’ discovery benefits smaller artists not on promo-rich labels like the Universal stable of labels — undercutting the huge promotional outlays it takes to get music lovers to listen to the ‘hits’ picked by Universal A&R?

Spotify originally limited their ad-driven ‘free’ tier with a 10 hour/month overall limit and a maximum of 5 streams of any specific song but later relaxed that, apparently trying to lure in more stream-skeptics. Restrictions remained in some markets but in the US and a few others, they were largely dropped.

No one’s asking me (really, they aren’t), but I can’t help but feel the free, ad-driven tier of Spotify is an excellent resource — EVEN though I subscribe to another service I find superior (Google All Access) — because it allows one to ‘share’ the discovery of music with others who may not have a subscription service.

But that function would remain largely intact if Spot were to return to something like their earlier free-tier restrictions, it seems to me.

One thing certain elements in the music industry are edgy about: the 10 dollars or so a month that Spot, Google, Beats, et al, charge for their subscription services is roughly TWICE what average consumers spend on music a month.

The Independent: Spotify reportedly under pressure from music labels to limit free streaming