Subscription music services face a new scourge on their bottom line: “Windowing.” This vaguely creepy term stands for a practice adopted by some artists in an effort to boost album sales. Musicians such as Adele and Coldplay withhold new albums from the likes of Spotify for a period of time after release, just as there is about a month’s delay between the release of a new film and that film becoming available on Netflix. Spotify in particular hates the practice, and Spotify’s chief content officer Ken Parks told Fast Company so in no uncertain terms:
My initial take is that it’s a very bad idea. From a user standpoint, it’s a pretty hostile proposition. The notion that you would want to withhold records from people who are paying 120 pounds or euros or dollars a year is just really mind-boggling. It’s pretty hostile to punish your best customers and fans. We think it’s a wrongheaded approach.
Mr. Parks also said there was “no data whatsoever” to indicate “Windowing” even works.
Fast Company asked Mr. Parks if “Windowing” might alienate Spotify customers. He acknowledged that was one of the risks but shifted the onus back to the artists, saying they “risk being on the sidelines.” Musicians, Mr. Parks said, “risk people not caring about [their] music.”
As Betabeat noted here, the artists have already expressed opinions on the money they get from Spotify, and many aren’t too happy with the arrangement.