November 6, 2017:Russian streaming services add restrictions for free users

The first industry push in Russia was to clamp down on pirate and unlicensed music services, persuading some of the highest-profile examples to sign licensing deals.

Now we appear to be entering a second phase: to shift those services’ emphasis a little more towards paid subscriptions rather than free streaming.

Billboard reports that Russian social networks / streaming services vKontakte, Odnoklassniki and Boom have introduced a new restriction that music can only be streamed in the background for free for 30 minutes a day.

“Users can remove the restrictions and get access to additional features by launching a paid subscription,” said a spokesperson for United Media Agency (UMA), which licenses music for all three sites’ parent company Mail.ru. They added that Mail.ru is “expanding our library of top-quality music tracks” as part of these changes.

The goal here is clearly to put some momentum behind paid streaming in Russia: according to the IFPI, the market only generated $12.7m from streaming subscriptions in 2016, and another $8.9m from free, ad-supported streams. The risk is of driving listeners back to piratical sources for their music.

Stuart Dredge
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