British rock band Muse’s new album Drones is available to stream on Spotify, but with a twist: its 11th track (‘The Globalist’) is marked as “premium only”. That’s right: people on Spotify’s free tier can’t play it.
A first example of tier-windowing despite Spotify’s longstanding opposition to the idea? Not as such. “Spotify and Sony PlayStation are partnering on a campaign to promote Muse’s new album, Drones, to music fans all over the world,” a spokesperson told us. “Part of the campaign provides Premium subscribers with additional access to the bonus track.”
Could this be the start of a slippery slope for Spotify, though? After all, Taylor Swift famously pulled her catalogue because she wasn’t allowed to window it to Spotify’s premium tier only.
Muse’s example of a single windowed track could be seen as paving the way for an artist like Swift to go further: for example to window album tracks while leaving the singles available to stream for free users – essentially this is her YouTube policy.
(There is no suggestion that Swift has requested this, or that Spotify has offered it, so this is purely hypothetical in a ‘if one Muse track can be windowed, can lots of tracks by another artist get the same treatment?’ way.)
However, Spotify says that the Muse premium-only track shouldn’t be seen in this way. “This is just a unique offer within a bespoke joint marketing campaign with Sony PlayStation, rather than a shift in our content approach.”