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21 April 2017, 03:10 | Jan Cross
Given that Merlin is able to take advantage of what Spotify sneakily calls its "flexible release policy", it's likely that Sony and Warner will also get on board here - which means that basically all notable new releases won't be immediately available to free users.
Merlin has inked a new windowing agreement with Spotify, in a deal aimed at "reflecting and promoting the value of Merlin's collective offering of its members' repertoire".
Music streaming service Spotify said on Thursday it had struck a multi-year license agreement with Merlin, a digital rights agency for the independent label sector.
Parity of access is a key point here: Spotify's in-house playlists continue to grow in clout, with their ability to break new songs and artists.
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But what about the "fourth major" - independent labels, as represented by licensing agency Merlin? "Merlin was a launch partner to Spotify back in 2008, and our partnership has thrived ever since", he said in a statement.
Spotify has already been streaming artists from Merlin's roster of labels for nearly a decade, but now they've signed a new deal that will allow Merlin's labels to limit new albums to Spotify's $10 monthly subscription service for up to two weeks, though specific singles may still be made available across the free ad-supported tier. The agreement lets Spotify keep a sizable portion of indie artists streamable on the service.
With Thursday's agreement, Spotify now looks to lock down updated deals with the remaining two major label groups: Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.
This means new releases can be made exclusive to paid Spotify subscribers for a period of time before becoming available to those who listen for free. The new agreement will also provide UMG with unprecedented access to data, creating the foundation for new tools for artists and labels to expand, engage and build deeper connections with their fans. Music Week has approached both for comment.
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