Spotify has no intentions of giving up its free tier service

Someone has to listen to those ads

Spotify has recently defended its continued offering of an ad-supported free tier by saying it’s good not just for fans of music, but the artists too. 

Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD conference, more than one executive spoke favorably towards free tier music. Troy Carter, an executive who liaises between Spotify and the wider music industry, said that Spotify’s decision to offer different tiers of service was similar to how artists offer expensive front-row concert tickets at the same time as offering cheaper seats with a poorer view. 

“I don't think we're ever going to get to a world where everybody on the planet is going to pay for music,” Carter said. He also added that while a user listening to music for free through Spotify “may never convert to a paid subscriber” they’ll be of a benefit to the artist in other ways, as they’ll “be able to afford a concert ticket, they’ll be able to afford a t-shirt.” 

Spend in other ways

It’s understandable that Spotify would like to continue to offer its free tier, which allows users to listen to any song they please as long as they’re willing to put up with the occasional ad interruption. 

This is something that sets it apart from other subscription services like Apple Music and Tidal, and is no doubt a big part of why the company is the leader of the music subscription market, having built a paid member base of 40 million subscribers. 

It’s an aspect of Spotify’s service that has, however, drawn criticism from artists such as Taylor Swift, who pulled her catalogue from Spotify in 2014 after accusing it of devaluing the music. 

At the SWJD conference Stefan Blom, Spotify's chief strategy officer and chief content officer, dismissed the idea that the company was giving music away. He argued that “someone is paying for the consumption”, referring to the money that comes from brand and advertiser payments. 

During the event, Blom also said that Spotify was planning to put more money behind creating original videos and making exclusive partnerships with artists. Carter, however, doesn’t have any intention of pursuing album exclusives from popular artists like Apple and Tidal.