It appears as though Spotify and Universal Music are moving closer to reconciling and inking a new licensing agreement. The two companies have been at odds since the record label's Taylor Swift pulled her catalogue from the streaming service.
The music label has been adopting an aggressive stand against free, ad-supported music streaming as of late, since the departure of top digital executive Rob Wells, who was one of the free model's strongest advocates. Universal publicly supported its artist Swift in her open attack on Spotify's policy, which would not allow her to place her music exclusively on its Premium tier.
In March, company CEO Lucien Grainge had maintained that YouTube required a premium offering, stating that "Ad-funded isn't a sustainable business model for them or us." In addition, Universal has reportedly been putting extensive pressure on SoundCloud to ink a licensing agreement with the label or face extensive litigation.
In a new interview, however, the Universal CEO struck a conciliatory tone in references made to music streaming that contrasted with earlier, more hardline comments. "We must seek the proper balance between ad-supported and paid subscription. It's not one or the other." Grainge explained. "With the two approaches in proper relationship, we can continue the level of investment we make in artists who then, in turn, can be fairly compensated for their work. If we get that right, everyone wins. That's what we're working towards."
Spotify immediately followed the news of the interview with a friendly retweet to it by top communications chief and ex-Obama aide Jonathan Prince, who commented "Good reading here, smart comments on streaming - agree."
Spotify, as we have previously reported, hired Prince along with a group of top Washington lobbyists, who have been assertively highlighting Spotify's antitrust concerns to top politicians. Spotify and Prince are thought to be behind the recent FTC investigation into Apple Music, as Spotify has questioned Apple's use of its vast leverage in negotiating unfair deals with record labels. The softer tone from Universal could well be to quell concerns raised in response to Spotify's lobbying efforts.