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The Windowing is Open?

The release of Radiohead’s ninth album ‘A moon shaped pool’ this week has again opened up the debate about streaming exclusives and windowing, with the band withholding from Spotify despite using both Apple Music and Tidal.

Granted, it would have been difficult for Radiohead to simply pop the album on there after singer Thom Yorke described Spotify as the ““last fart of a dying corpse” in 2013, but there were indications this attitude was thawing – both tracks released in advance of the album were on the platform.

As Music Business Worldwide have highlighted, Spotify now doesn’t feature four of the five top albums in the UK- which to the 98% of Internet users yet to pay for streaming is not a good look. There are also increasing issues with back catalogue, with albums from Prince and Neil Young appearing only on Tidal and timed exclusives from everyone from Drake to Coldplay.

Lets not make too much of the Radiohead release – as Eamonn Forde has pointed out in The Guardian, 95% of Spotify’s 30m paying subscribers have no interest in Radiohead. It is ultimately a drop in the (non moon shaped) pool of music that Spotify can offer.

However, with Apple Music recently sailing past 13m subscribers and looking at a planned overhaul and Tidal gaining ever more high profile exclusives, the competition is heating up.

The windowing debate has reached a tipping point that may prove to be a defining moment for Spotify and ultimately, fans are loyal to artists and not streaming platforms – they will go where the content is.

Spotify are reportedly considering a climb down on ‘windowed’ exclusives for paying subscribers. The streaming service’s ad-supported ‘Freemium’ tier has long been the crux of the debate and whilst this will be tricky territory to navigate, the conversation needs to happen now.

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