Point, Windowing: Adele’s 21 Is Now Live on Spotify

One of the biggest catalog cavities on Spotify has now been filled.

Adele’s 21, the mega-selling, industry-saving, Grammy-winning album, is now available on Spotify for your streaming pleasure.  And Beatles aside, it’s one of the largest release ‘windows’ we’ve ever witnessed.

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We’re hoping to learn what finally caused the breakthrough, though perhaps the sales arc had simply hit that point.  After all, 21 was released in January – of 2011 – and has already sold 22 million copies.   And maybe that’s the point here: windowing is all about maximizing revenue from various channels through carefully-timed, successive releases of the same (or similar) content.  Which means that lower-paying partners get things last.

That said, Adele’s camp was apparently willing to license this album last year, but only if it was restricted to premium subscribers – thereby hiking its per-play payout.  No dice, Spotify is rumored to have retorted, based on a preference for keeping catalogs similar across freebie and paid tiers.

The news is somewhat mixed for Spotify.  On one hand, this fills a gaping hole and theoretically offers more incentive for users to subscribe – or get on board at all.  But it may also offer the most solid evidence that windowing works – after all, there are 22 million reasons supporting Adele’s decision to prioritize traditional channels like iTunes and good ol’ CDs.  Meanwhile, Spotify stakeholders like Merlin – through head Charles Caldas – are continuing to champion this horse, though that position seems questionable alongside lopsided, preferential major label treatment.

Thanks to HansH of SpotiDJ for the tip! 


23 Responses

  1. Casey

    This is big news… why?

    The album is old. The popularity has tappered off. It has been on nearly every other subscription service other than Spotify. The fact that a single service finally got the album is not news worthy. And windowing has already proven not to work with the movie industry. All it does is anger people and drive them to piracy. It doesn’t and won’t work with music.

    • Me

      Popularity tapering off? 21 is still in the top 20 on iTunes, and #3 on the Billboard 200 (it was #1 the week before).

      • Casey

        It is still popular. But near as much as it once was. The album is old news now.

        • Visitor

          it’s not as popular as it once was – yup – that’s why it’s finally on spotify… and, uhm… I don’t know why you think windowing doesn’t work for the movie business? I haven’t seen Avengers on DVD/Blu-Ray Netflix and Cable, have you?

          I’ll tell you what doesn’t work… wanting everything for for free all the time while living in a magical world without real life economics and consequences.

          good lord, if you don’t like the way the content industry works, make your own and give it away… stop whining already. Jeesh.

  2. @scrimmers

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, windowing is stupid.

    • FarePlay

      Windowing is stupid? Well you better get used to it my friend, because this is one marketing tactic that is here to stay.

      Cloud Computing and the loop-hole it has created for file sharing will have a major impact on musicians, now, and filmmakers later with an eye toward literature when people are able to share their favorite books online.

      I know, all of this has already happened.

      While all this sounds great for the consumer, what is the impact on the artist? Are we on the precipice where few are able to produce quaility work; i.e. recordings in state-of-the-art studios, as opposed to loops, drum tracks and software.

      Do we really want our “art” relgated to a Wal Mart mentality? And find our artitst working there, part time?

      Or is this a mute point? We are certainly living in a low-fi world where earbuds and color copies are the standard. Will the Google Museum Tour Program replace the need to go to museums or as the illegal downloaders falsely proclaim about their impact on the actaul purchase of downloads and cds, will it lead to overflow crowds?

      And while we’re on the topic of unauthorized downloading has anyone noticed recent articles in Tech Dirt in support of Spotify? We’ve even seen some “nice” things written about the RIAA, what the heck!!!

      What does the mean? Are we beginning to see the tide turn for the business men that run for-profit file sharing sites? Will “Legal” streaming be the killer app? Has Spotify in a concerted pr effort decided to cover all bets and see a potential benefit in gaining support from rogue sites like Tech Dirt?

      The stakes couldn’t be higher for Spotify with an eye toward VC underwriting, global domination and an IPO in their future.

      Windowing is a powerful tool to raise questions about Spotify and how the artist fits into their future business plan. Because like any of these services, without great content Spotify is just a room full of servers.

  3. HansH

    The release is for all Spotify countries. I have checked it in the Spotify Search API.

    And thanks for mentioning me as the source 😉

      • Visitor

        Nice thanks! BTW The release is global. I you want to check the API yourself here is the link.

  4. HansH

    The question now is. Will sales plummet because of the streaming release. Do you know anyone who can monitor this?

  5. Michelle Russell

    Re: “…windowing works – after all, there are 22 million reason supporting Adele’s decision…”. Based on industry stats Spotify play drives iTunes purchases. So she may have actually lost money –the streaming revenue for the past year and a half– that she would have received ON TOP of the iTunes revenue. This is not a valid argument for windowing.

    • paul

      Now I know what if feels like to be quoted out of context 😉


    • Central Scrutinizer

      I just want someone to post a link or source for the “Based on industry stats Spotify play drives iTunes purchases.”

      I have read several similar statements in different articles claiming that streaming improves sales but I have not been able to find the data.

      • steveh

        There are no stats indicating this whatsoever.

        Another lie from the Spotify gestapo goebbells dark arts spin machine.

  6. Paradox

    Why “Spotify is now the No.2 source of revenue for the labels” does not get its own headline?

    Negative articles about Spotify got headlines a few times a week.

    A positive article about Spotify got buried.

  7. Visitor 987

    this (21) has been on rdio.com since i signed up months ago… and still is. Also, Rush was on their for a day, then removed…and then there’s bands like TOOL who are non-existent, as if they didn’t exists. only Tool available is the ‘lullaby’ cover album which is not by the band.

    Windowing probably works, but so does leaving it available for new or current fans to discover.. it’s your perogative, but you won’t make it on to my ‘party playlist’ unless you’re on rdio, or whichever streaming service i choose. 🙂

  8. Rick E.

    I understand that Spotify isn’t popular here, but arguing it (and other streaming services) are “lower paying” is a real apples-and-oranges comparison.

    An artist should get a lot less from Spotify than from iTunes. With iTunes you own the track–at least as much as you can own any digital track. A closer comparison to Spotify would be radio and we know how much artists get from that.

    Adele is also an anomoly in the current music scene. “21” continues to sell well nearly 18 months after its release. It’s this generation’s equivalent of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon.” It’s a very unique release and shouldn’t be used as guidance for anyone else in the future.

    The big question with Adele is how her management and label will treat her next release. My hunch is that there won’t be much of a window at all with Spotify.

    One last note about Spotify. There are a number of artists that are barely represented, for reasons I can’t fathom. For instance, why none of the classic Atlantic-era tracks from The Spinners aren’t included is beyond me.

  9. @steph_guerrero

    Good digital strategy: Wait until sales slow to make music available to streaming partners.