This is a juicy story… but if you have any familiarity whatsoever with the music business, it’s not at all surprising. Labels (and artists with clout) have been pressuring digital music services to change their business models since Day 1 (see iTunes, eMusic). Because they hold the content licenses, the labels and artists have a lot of leverage in these situations. But making the kind of changes that Adele was calling for would have been more complicated technically for Spotify than you might think, not to mention the communications challenges of having separate libraries for different customers. Moving from a simple business model to a more complex one is really really hard for consumers, especially if they like the current one. And I would bet that’s true for most Spotify customers.
It’s interesting to see a potential “windowing” strategy develop in the music business, where artists might withhold their content from services like Spotify until a few months after release date. Labels have done this with eMusic in the past also. Personally, I’d love to see more albums on Spotify and streaming services before release date to create demand for sales.
In any event, I’m glad Spotify stuck to their guns in this case. As much as we all love Adele, it’s probably better for Spotify to maintain its simplicity. And we’ll get to see if their business model works in the long run.