* Free users now have to wait at least two weeks to access certain new releases
* Wait could be longer if albums first released on Apple or Tidal
* Good alternative is to subscribe to Spotify family plan
Back in the day, we used to line up at record stores to buy an album the day it came out. There was something about being the first to — quite literally — get your hands on a CD before anyone else. These days, physical album sales may be declining, but there’s still something exciting about opening your favorite streaming service to listen to newly-released music. But if access is what you crave, you may want to stop streaming Spotify for free.
Earlier this month, Spotify announced a new licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, that would allow artists to limit their new releases to only premium users, for up to two weeks. Similar deals are expected to be announced with artists on the Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group labels as well.
What that means for you, isn’t as simple as you think.
Spotify users already have to wait for albums if they are first released on Apple or Tidal. Beyonce, for example, famously released her Lemonade album as a Tidal exclusive, and it didn’t arrive on Spotify until weeks later. If you’re streaming Spotify for free, the new changes mean you would have to wait an additional two weeks to listen to the songs that everyone else is already creating memes about and learning the words to.
While this likely won’t happen with every album, artists have much to gain by restricting their new releases to paid services (and tiers), as it means more back-end revenue for them.
Of course, you could also jump around on different music services and max out on the free trials. Spotify offers a one-month free trial to any new customer and Tidal does the same. Apple Music offers a three-month free trial to all new users. Still, all three services are looking at ways to make their paid tiers more attractive, and that might mean restricting certain features or access.
If you’re thinking of upgrading from the free service but don’t want to shell out 10 bucks a month for Spotify premium, consider getting a group of friends together and subscribing to Spotify’s new family plan. The plan lets you have up to six accounts at just $14.99 total per month. That works out to just $2.50 per person, per month. And if that’ll let you hear the new Lorde track or Kendrick Lamar album before anyone else, then it seems like a small price to pay, doesn’t it? Otherwise, there’s always YouTube.