Plenty of artists have declined to put their music on Spotify, but apparently superstar Adele was not among them. Multiple sources have told Fast Company that Adele and her labels were willing to license the album 21 to Spotify on the condition that it be made available to subscription members only, not people who use the free, ad-supported service. Spotify allegedly turned down the deal, refusing to split its music catalog into free and premium branches. We reached out to both parties, but weren't able to get a comment from either.
21 isn't the first major album to be missing from Spotify, and it's not uncommon for artists to delay adding new music in order to urge fans to buy it outright. But Adele's deal is odd for two reasons. On Spotify's side, exclusive content isn't something entirely new — hearing albums before release is one of the perks advertised for Spotify Premium. And for Adele and her labels, as far as we know there's no difference in royalties between an ad-supported stream and a subscription one. Considering that free users would also be limited to playing each track five times, her terms seem to be either a principled opposition to ad-supported music or a slightly unusual way to limit the amount of people streaming tracks instead of buying them. Either way, it looks like Spotify isn't going along with it.