Music streaming service Spotify is getting lots of plaudits from users lately for its ease of use and vast catalogue but that’s about to change. In a blog post yesterday the startup outlined how it will be removing a number of songs from its catalogue and adding country restrictions to some tracks, which may make them unplayable for many users. The changes are being made because record labels have slapped restrictions on Spotify’s service. The issue is to do with the publishing rights associated with compilatoins. A user in one country might be able to listen to a track on one compilation in their country jurisdiction, but to share that track on a playlist with a user in another country could affect the publishing rights. It’s a bizarre situation to think of in 2009 but it means that a user could share a track with a friend in another country, but that friend wouldn’t be able to play that track. As the Sweden-based startups says: “…our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good”. Here’s the post:
Some important changes to the Spotify music catalogue
January 28, 2009
Next week we are going to be making some changes to our music catalogue that we feel are important to communicate clearly. Unfortunately we are going to be removing a number of songs from our catalogue and adding country restrictions to some tracks, which may make them unplayable for you.
Why are we doing this?
The changes are being made so that we implement all the proper restrictions that are required by our label deals. Some tracks will be restricted from play in certain countries, this means that if you share tracks with friends who are in other countries it’s possible that they won’t be able to listen to them. The reason for this is that our agreements contain strict rules as to what tracks can and can’t be played in various countries that we are now capable of implementing. These restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music, our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good.
Additionally, some of the music that has been delivered to us had been delivered by mistake even though the artist did not want their music to be included in a streaming service. In order to respect the decisions of the artist we now have to remove those tracks. We have not lost any licenses and no labels have stopped working with us, this is just a matter of updating our catalogue to be in line with the agreements we actually have. In hindsight it would have been better to remove this in October when we launched publicly, we realize this now and apologize to you for not doing it sooner.
How will this affect you?
A number of the tracks that you’ve listened to previously will no longer be available for streaming, these tracks have already been removed from the search function. If you have some of these songs in playlists we will try to automatically replace those songs with versions from albums that we are not removing so you don’t lose the song. If there is no replacement available then the song will appear in red on your playlists.
From this point on there are no plans to remove any more music and our catalogue will only grow from here. We already have music from all the major labels and a vast majority of the independent labels licensed, between them we have millions of tracks that we still can add into Spotify. Now it’s a matter of importing that music into our system, which we are doing on an ongoing basis in an effort to add thousands of albums a week. We continue to work hard to sign deals with more labels and will work with the labels we have signed to fill the holes in our catalogue.
Our dream is to create a music experience where users can play whatever music they want, whenever they want, it may take awhile but we will keep working at it. Please feel free to leave any questions you may have on the blog or join the conversation on our forum if you require more information.