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SONY'S LYNTON SEES WINDOWED FUTURE,
SENDS FAXES

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton believes windowing is the future. In a conversation with Peter Kafka of Re/Code, Lynton predicted that—once subscription services have significantly more traction—the exclusive release of new music on paid tiers for a designated period will likely become the norm.

Lynton likened the eventual ecosystem to the movie/TV model, wherein new releases go to subscription services first, then eventually make their way to free/ad-supported outlets. But he surmised that they would need “multiples” of the current subscriber base for this to be the new reality.

But Sony Music insiders confirm that this windowed world will be upon us sooner than later, and that the time has come for a change.

Spotify has thus far not assented to a paid-only exclusive, insisting the ad-supported tier is essential to its business and useful in migrating users to paid (the company has somewhere between 25-30m subscribers, depending whom you ask).

How will Spotify respond to the growing support for windowing? Will the streaming giant stick to its guns on freemium, or will it embrace the model Lynton describes?

Apple (with 11m streaming subscribers) has enjoyed success with exclusive releases from artists such as Future, though the inclusion of iTunes sales in these releases changes the equation slightly.

Tidal has enjoyed some high-profile exclusives from its superstar backers but has not yet amassed an appreciable paid user base.

The field Lynton describes will have some new competitors soon, with Vevo making noises about a subscription service and Pandora expected to roll out its own on-demand version (on the sturdy bones of acquisition Rdio) perhaps as soon as this year.

During the chat, at the Ritz-Carlton in Southern Cali’s gorgeous Laguna Niguel, Lynton also addressed the use of faxes and handwritten messages as a way to counter hacks like the notorious incursion that made mountains of sensitive Sony data public. Later, he faxed room service to refill his hot tub with Beluga.

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