Spotify no longer thinks exclusives are bad

At The Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive 2016 technology conference Stefan Blom, Spotify’s chief strategy officer and chief content officer, said his company would not be doing exclusive deals because "we don’t believe that [exclusives are] good for the artist".

A year later, the Financial Times reports Spotify has major label agreement that some big new releases will be available only to those paying £9.99 per month for its premium tier.

According to the article Spotify will pay record companies less in royalties, and is positioning itself to become the only platform able to stream content from artists like Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

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Exclusive content on streaming services is not new: Amazon Music Unlimited offered exclusive commentary when the Rolling Stones released Blue & Lonesome, and Tidal has made its name through exclusives - it was first to offer albums like Kanye West's Life of Pablo.

Many artists have disagreed with Spotify's free tier offering their music, as it pays less than the company's premium tier. Musicians like Adele and Coldplay temporarily withheld their respective albums 21 and Ghost Stories from the service, and Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalogue in 2014.

Spotify currently has 50 million reported subscribers, making it the largest streaming service compared to Apple Music's 20 million user base and Tidal's three million subscribers. Amazon Music is linked to Amazon Prime, which as of late 2015 had 54 million members.

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While exclusives are certainly important to a streaming service, audio fidelity is also vital. Spotify recently announced a CD-quality lossless option, while Tidal currently offers MQA-encoded audio as part of its Tidal Masters tier now made available on its desktop app.

Currently we have no timescale for when (or, indeed, if) this change will be made, but it's possible you may need to fork over more cash to multiple platforms to keep up with all the latest releases.

MORE: Google Play Music adds sound quality options for downloads and streaming

MORE: SoundCloud launches a mid-tier subscription service to rival Spotify and Apple Music

MORE: Tidal adds curated Playlists to Masters on desktop

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Adam was a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?, reviewing consumer gadgets for online and print publication, as well as researching and producing features and advice pieces on new technology in the hi-fi industry. He has since worked for PC Mag as a contributing editor and is now a science and technology reporter for The Independent.