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Universal Music CEO Lucian Grainge Wants You to Pay Up: The Code/Media Interview

Expect more subscription services for music and less free stuff.

Asa Mathat
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The world’s biggest music label used to be OK with people streaming music on the Web without paying for it. But now it has changed its mind: Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge says the music industry needs to shift away from free, ad-supported music and toward services paid for by you, the listener.

That was the message Grainge brought to the Code/Media conference last month, and it’s shared by other top music executives, as well as Apple, which wants to relaunch its own paid subscription service this year.

In the less-than-enthusiastic camp are Spotify and YouTube, which offer their own paid services, but say that offering free music on-demand is crucial to their model — and good for the music business.

This is going to be a big debate this year. You can watch part of the argument via Grainge’s conversation with Re/code’s Dawn Chmielewski.

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