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Spotify might restrict some album releases to paid users

Deals with record labels could smooth the road to a much-rumored IPO, the Financial Times reports.

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You may soon have to pony up for a Spotify subscription to get access to the biggest albums on the streaming service.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

If you aren't a paying customer of Spotify, you may soon be missing out on some big album releases on the streaming-music service.

The startup is in talks with several major record labels to lower the royalty fees that Spotify pays for their music, the Financial Times reported Thursday. In exchange, Spotify would for a limited time restrict access on major album releases to paid subscribers, the newspaper reported (subscription required).

Such deals could help the Sweden-based service take a step closer to a much-rumored IPO. Making the company more attractive to investors was reportedly the reason Spotify abandoned "advanced talks" in December to acquire rival streaming service SoundCloud.

Spotify's IPO ambitions underscore the intensifying competition for streaming-music customers. In the last three years, consumers have shifted from digital downloads to memberships that charge a monthly fee for unlimited access to tens of millions of songs.

Spotify currently dominates the market with 50 million paying subscribers worldwide, up from 30 million paying subscribers a year ago, according to market researcher Statista. Apple has been catching up fast, with executive Eddy Cue saying last month that Apple Music was "well past" the 20 million mark.

Spotify did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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