Spotify and the New York Times Partner on Bundled Subscriptions

Courtesy of The New York Times
       

For $5 a week you can get music with 'All the News That's Fit to Print.'

Spotify and the New York Times announced a partnership today that will bundle a one-year digital subscription to the paper of record with one year of free access to Spotify's premium, ad-free subscription tier for $5 per week. The offer includes access to all the Times' stories on its site, as well as its apps, podcasts and curated selection of e-books, according to a press release.

“At the Times we are not only dedicated to helping our readers understand the rapidly changing world around them, but also to helping them live better lives,” said Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times Company's evp and chief revenue officer, in a statement accompanying the announcement. “News and music have gone hand-in-hand since the early days of radio, and because personalization and curation are central to what both the Times and Spotify do so well, we created an experience for Times readers that gives them access to all the news and all the music that they want in one premier subscription.”

The partnership makes sense for both sides, as each company needs to continue growing digital subscribers in order to offset losses elsewhere. The Times is in the midst of both a precipitous decline in print ad revenue -- which dropped 18.5 percent in the quarter ended Nov. 2, according to Politico -- and a rapid increase in the rate of digital subscribers, largely spurred by the recent U.S. election and the subsequent executive-level transition, which now account for nearly 60 percent of its annual revenue.

Executive Editor Dean Baquet also noted in January that the Times will be undergoing budget cuts this year, after a string of buyouts and departures over the last several months. Today, in fact, Deadline reported that the paper's No. 2 theater critic Charles Isherwood had recently left the paper. The paper also lost two lauded music critics in the last six months: In August Ben Ratliff left the paper and Nate Chinen departed in January.*

Meanwhile, Spotify, the market leader in streaming music services with 40 million paid subscribers, has still yet to turn a profit and is facing the near-certainty of an IPO in its future. Due to its high royalty rate (approximately 70 percent of revenue from streams is paid out to labels and publishers) subscriber scale is an important element in Spotify's prospects of eventually becoming profitable, so partnering with the Times and its rapidly-expanding subscriber base offers another potential stream of users. Spotify, as well as competitors like Apple Music and Tidal, is also focusing on broadening the offerings on its subscription tier, including video and digital content initiatives that move beyond just music.

The offer is only available to new U.S. subscribers, and after the full year is up the price increases to $6.25 per week, which was the cost of a Times all-access digital subscription prior to the new offer (though they are often discounted with varying options). At $5 a week, the deal works out to $260 a year, while Spotify alone will run $120 per year at its standard subscription rate.

*Correction appended: An earlier version of this story incorrectly put Ben Ratliff and Nate Chinen's departure dates in December, when Ratliff in fact left in August 2016 and Nate Chinen left in January. The story's since been updated.