Spotify users who are also fans of Coldplay may have found themselves wondering something over the last few days, and it’s not “Why does Chris Martin always sound so sad and tired?” Instead, they’re probably asking themselves when “Mylo Xyloto,” the Coldplay album released earlier this week is going to show up on the streaming music service.
The answer: Not anytime soon.
The band has decided to withhold “Mylo Xyloto” from Spotify and other streaming music services like Rhapsody, in an apparent attempt to push sales for the album that’s already looking to be one of the top-selling releases of the year. Although the band’s management has stayed quiet on the matter so far, their label, EMI, confirmed the news yesterday with a statement saying the label “always work[s] with our artists and their management on a case by case basis to deliver the best outcome for each release.”
So what’s behind the decision? Many people are going with “money”, pointing out that services like Spotify pay so little royalties to artists per song without driving sales in the same manner that radio play historically has; instead, Spotify has replaced music purchases for many users, ultimately reducing income for musicians.
That’s an argument that Spotify sidesteps in a statement on the matter, instead comparing its royalties to the even smaller (read: zero) amount musicians get from pirated music by boasting that it has “convinced millions of consumers to pay for music again.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this develops in the weeks and months to come; we don’t know, for example, whether the Coldplay embargo is permanent or a temporary attempt to boost launch sales for a big album in a time when album sales are shrinking. But if it does turn out to be permanent, will other bands follow suit? And if so, what does that mean for the music industry—or companies like Spotify?
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.