Yesterday, multiple sources informed Digital Music News that Spotify was being pressured to curtail its free, ad-supported access tier to just three months. This morning, Spotify issued a sharp and succinct response to that report:
“It’s totally false. The model is working.”
Earlier, Spotify noted that the flow from free to paid was progressing successfully, and was good for this industry. “Any content you restrict on your free service is going to be all over those places where no one pays for content – like piracy,” said Jonathan Prince, Spotify’s global head of communications and public policy.
“We believe that our free tier is a critical element to driving subscriber growth, and, frankly, we’re so committed to the freemium model because we agree so much with the labels that subscribers are key to bringing the industry back to health – and we need the free ‘funnel’ to drive subscription.”
Spotify’s strong stance contrasts sharply with sources to Digital Music News, who are standing by their claims. Meanwhile, public statements from extremely powerful licensors to Spotify continue to point to a bloody battlefield ahead. “Basically, I equate ‘free’ with the decline of the music business,” Sony Music Entertainment chairman and CEO Doug Morris declared in March of this year. “Why should anyone pay for anything if they can get it for free? In certain instances, it’s worth a discussion.”
“But in general, free is death.”