I discovered a new online music service this week called Spotify, after reading an article about it in the London Evening Standard. It’s similar to an online radio station in that it streamlines music from different musical genres, but you can also listen to the back catalogues of various artists as well as creating your own music play lists.
Two Swedish entrepreneurs Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon based in Stockholm set up the company. They’re currently causing a big stir within the internet business community as Spotify is seen as one of the most promising start up businesses in years.
Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon - founders of Spotify
Spotify has over 6 million tracks for subscribers to listen to. You can listen in two different ways. You can either listen for free, but if you do so it means you have to listen to adverts between songs. Alternatively you can pay a monthly subscription of £9.99 and listen to music advert free and with better quality music in terms of the audio sound.
I’ve downloaded the service onto my laptop this week, and I’ve been checking it out over the last couple of days. So far it does look like quite a good service, and I can see it possibly becoming a rival to iTunes.
Unlike iTunes where you can listen to 30 seconds of an artist’s track before deciding whether you want buy it by downloading; on Spotify you can listen to any song in full if it’s in their library.
Apparently following Michael Jackson’s death a few weeks ago, users of Spotify listened to his songs on the site, more than 10 million times within a 20-hour period! Impressive stuff!
Funnily enough when Jackson died I did the same thing but listened to a lot of his old tunes on You Tube, which is where I listen to a lot of music. In many ways I’ve used You Tube for the same function as people are using Spotify.
The thing is, for all the hype that Spotify seems to be getting, I can’t think of one reason why I should upgrade to the £9.99 monthly subscription fee. From what I can tell this seems to be the great challenge that Spotify faces. I’ve read figures saying that they’ve got over 2 million listeners, but so far no figures have been released to show how many of these people have upgraded to the subscription service.
The company is looking to expand from its Western European market and move into the America market with the aim of making a profit by the end of the year. One area, that they’re looking at moving into, and one which could prove crucial in the long-term success of the company, is that of launching a mobile phone version of the service. At the moment you can’t download any music from Spotify, so you can’t listen to music when you’re out and about like you can with an iTunes and an iPod
If Spotify does prove to be a long term success and more people subscribe to a monthly subscription, it means that the way people listen to music will again be evolving and changing in quite a radical way.
It could potentially mean in future, that some people will never actually buy or own their own music in the traditional sense again. Instead they’d essentially be renting their music collection. The only access they'd have in listening to their favourite artists would be by paying a monthly subscription.
As somebody who’s always bought music, and continues to do so (I’ve never illegally downloaded a track in my life) I don’t really like this idea at all! Maybe my attitude is too ‘old skool’ but I still like having a physical copy of a record.
I know some people will read this and think I’m living in the past, but even though I do download tracks, there are still loads of records by artists that I would rather own in the physical form of a CD.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing. If I was 15 years old today and just getting into music I’m sure I wouldn’t feel it necessary to physically own records, I’d probably be happy listening to music on my mobile whilst annoying people on the back of the bus! But for me being into music is still about going out and buying records.
I think for the time being I will use Spotify, but only as a way of checking out artists and tracks I haven’t previously heard before or been familiar with. One thing I would say is that the world of internet and dotcom businesses does seem to be very faddish, people are always looking for the next big thing, there always seems to be a lot of hype surrounding new business ventures, so we’ll just have wait and see how things develop with Spotify.