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Spotify lets thousands of indie labels limit free streaming

Free users will have to wait two weeks before streaming new releases from some of the biggest indie label.
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Thomas Trutschel via Getty Images

With an IPO looming, streaming music leader Spotify has been inking a number of new deals with record labels to ensure it has the content it needs to keep growing. The latest deal comes with Merlin, an agency that represents a swath of various independent record label around the world. In a press release today, Spotify noted that this new multi-year deal would keep ensure that Merlin's music stayed available on Spotify, something it'll certainly need going forward. All told, Merlin is the fourth-biggest music provider that Spotify works with, behind the three massive major labels.

But the biggest news from this new deal is that Merlin will also get to restrict new releases from Spotify's free tier for up to two weeks. Spotify has historically fought long and hard against splitting up its catalog between free and paid users, but it finally relented when signing a new deal with Universal Music a few weeks ago. (Some would say it didn't have a real choice in the matter anymore.) Now, it seems that two-week window is going to become the standard when new music hits Spotify.

With new deals set for Universal and Merlin, it's likely we'll see Sony Music and Warner Music Group also ink new contracts in the coming months. 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.

Labels represented by Merlin include electronic-focused Armada, Beggars Group (whose sub-labels feature notable artists like Adele, Alabama Shakes, The National, Pavement, Beck, The Strokes and many more), the legendary Seattle-based Sub Pop and the punk-focused Epitaph. If you're a fan of those labels but aren't paying for Spotify, be aware you'll now have to be patient when looking for new releases

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