Another panel at The Great Escape conference yesterday focused on the future of music-streaming.

Paul Sampson, CEO of startup Lickd, didn’t mince his words. “The pricing has to go up, and if it doesn’t go up, free has to go. It’s enough already,” said Sampson, before talking about the battle Spotify faces with services owned by big-tech rivals. “Amazon and Apple’s streaming services are loss-leaders for them. If they can get you into their ecosystem, they can make money off you as a consumer in ten other ways,” he said. “Spotify has to make this work, and if they haven’t raised their prices it’s because Apple and Amazon can afford to cut theirs… I think free has to go, and certainly in the western markets, that’s something we should all accept.”

Raffaella De Santis, music and media lawyer at Harbottle & Lewis, added her own views, comparing the cost of a monthly streaming subscription to that for other kinds of content. “I pay £100 a month just to access some of the news that I really want to read. I could get that for free elsewhere, and often I do, but where does that sit against the value of music?” she said. “I hope we see much more disruption in pricing… with innovations in high-resolution for example, there is no good reason why we shouldn’t be paying more for music. It just has to be done in the right way… In what other industry would you have access to almost all the content for £10 a month?”

Sampson and De Santis also suggested there is room for labels to improve more at how they work with startups. “We have been in talks with the majors for coming up to three years,” said Sampson. “There needs to be an understanding from the labels that startups have limited runways and limited time.” De Santis agreed. “There has to be some change, some acknowledgement that startups need some oxygen, to be able to create that revenue funnel for you.”

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