Spotify’s controversial free streaming service may be in its final days, according to Digital Music News. A new report citing several anonymous sources claims the Swedish company is under pressure from industry giants Universal and Sony to kill its ad-supported streaming option once and for all.
Spotify has already refuted the rumors, claiming its free tier isn’t going anywhere. “It’s totally false,” the company toldThe Next Web. “The model is working.”
According to anonymous sources, however, the company may soon simply offer a three-month trial instead of its ad-supported service. After that, you’d be forced to pay for your music or get cut off entirely. One source adds that anyone with a free account at the time of the switch would get a 6-month grace period before needing to upgrade.
The report suggests that discussions between Spotify and the record industry are ongoing, though it sounds like the music streaming giant doesn’t have much choice in the matter. “In all reality, remember that [Sony Music Entertainment CEO Doug] Morris and [UMG CEO Lucian] Grainge aren’t really asking as much as they’re telling,” an insider told Digital Music News.
The article doesn’t mention Apple’s upcoming music streaming service, but it’s possible the company could be involved. Recent reports suggest Cupertino has asked record labels to help kill off free options like the one offered by Spotify. Apple may even be under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-competitive behavior.
The re-imagined Apple Music isn’t expected to offer a free tier, so it makes sense that the company would want to clear the playing field ahead of time. Still, free music streaming isn’t exactly popular with the record industry either, and it’s possible Sony and Universal are acting on their own initiative.
Spotify is set to make a big announcement later this month on May 20. The company is expected to focus on a rumored new video service, though we may also hear about plans to wean listeners off its free music option.