The practice of music streaming services grabbing exclusive rights to albums and artists may be coming to an end.
According to reports, Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record label, has banned its individual subsidiaries and top-name artists from making exclusive arrangements with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal.
The ban comes from Universal top dog Lucian Grainge, one of the music industry’s most powerful figures, who reportedly notified executives of the change in tack earlier this week.
While exclusive rights to an album or artist provides a great opportunity for streaming services hoping to build their user base, it’s not so good for the labels who see the potential reach and streaming revenue fall when restricted to a single service.
It’s also no good for consumers who face a choice of missing out on their favorite artists’ new work, or doubling down on streaming subscriptions.
There’s also an ethical aspect to consider with some, including the likes of Kanye West, believing exclusive deals are, well, exclusionary and against the artistic ethos.
The reports come amid upset over Apple’s exclusive deal to stream the new Frank Ocean album - Endless.
The likes of Taylor Swift, the late Prince, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Beyonce have all been offering music exclusively via the various services over the course of the last year.
With Universal reportedly outlawing the process, there may be a domino effect that democratises streaming so those paying-up monthly for a single service will be able to hear all available releases.
Then it's up to the customer to decide whether Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal or anyone else in the game floats their musical boat.