Spotify is one of a few new recent technologic advances that has proven to become quite convenient with music enthusiasts all over the world. Essentially, Spotify competes with other startup companies like Pandora, iHeart Radio, MOG, last.fm, GrooveShark amongst others, in the online music streaming services. They use an Open Music Model business format which is how internet streaming music services make revenue using advertising from non-paid subscribers and subscription fees. I have been using Spotify to satisfy my overindulgent music listening habits for several months now, and I have converted several people on my own online friend’s network to become avid users of this service. Spotify makes it a real possibility to soundtrack your life at any given moment. I use Spotify to listen to obscure independent bands I would have never learned about otherwise and I use Spotify to re-enjoy music from my childhood as well as remain on top of today’s latest trends in music. As I am typing this, I am listening to French singer-songwriter Sebastien Tellier directly from my iPhone. Spotify is amazing, and I would like to tell you why.
Spotify is a music streaming service as I have mentioned before. I usually describe it as “a database of awesome,” it allows me to access the music of anyone who commercially releases music and has allowed their music to be listened to on the service. For the most part the database of Spotify is quite immense and I have little to no difficulty finding an artist in specific I am looking for. Most of today’s artists allow their music to be streamed on paid services like Spotify, but of course there are exceptions to this, being legendary classic rock bands such Led Zeppelin, Tool, or The Beatles, and those small bands that have not allowed some parts of their discography to be available on Spotify, like the latest Black Keys record, “El Camino”. You do not need to pay to use Spotify initially; there is a short trial period to discover the service for yourself, where you can get a handle on the amenities Spotify offers. There are several options to go with in regards to subscriptions, I subscribe for the premium plan which is $10/month and it allows for unlimited listening/streaming from your computer and mobile devices. Mobile devices are the cash crop for Spotify and nearly every other paid music streaming subscription service. People no longer have the time to sit down in front of their computers on end to listen to music anymore; people want it on the go. The convenience factor is pretty high however, with being able to listen to nearly any popular group you want (I have listened to Prince and Madonna using Spotify), to small fledgling indie groups wanting to be heard, the level of diversity and selection in Spotify is immaculate. There are different ways to enjoy music using the service, such as searching for artists in specific, using the “What’s New” tab to see what is popular within Spotify as a whole, and more. With full-on Facebook integration you can see what your fellow Facebook friends listen to (the ones who use Spotify), and then there are also shared playlists from friends, music bloggers, musicians, and anyone else interesting in curating a playlist of music which you can subscribe to frequently, many of them will be updated regularly. (I suggest the website sharemyplaylist.com, which has great comprehensive playlists with really deep cuts and selection) All these different amenities Spotify offers are highly social, which is now the most effective way to suggest new music to friends all over the globe. Word of Mouth. The best way to really summarize Spotify is to compare it to Pandora, but only this time, YOU control the playlist. Another fun fact I forgot to mention, when you sync Spotify with your Facebook profile, you will be able to tell your friends what you’re listening to, and you can discover your friends’ taste in music too.
Spotify is funded by paid subscriptions, advertisements in the Spotify player for non-subscribers and music purchases from partner retailers. The service pays artists by clicks/listens essentially. This is part of an “Open Music Model” which is a model of business where the service to provide music to the masses is the real money maker versus the corporate record labels. This Open Music Model is eventually going to “cut out the middle man” and allow more artists to become independent and make more money this way. Traditionally record labels take nearly all the revenue made from traditional record sales or place their talent into unfavorable contracts with limited creative control or creative rights, such as not owning master copies of their own work. In today’s economy, most albums flop, few break even, and VERY few profit. It is very noticeable to understand why artists are becoming disenfranchised with this business model and are looking for different options for money, even if this means giving your music away and sacrificing selling tangible products to be listened to on a streaming service without someone paying $15 to purchase your new CD.
In conclusion, with any new technology, Spotify is still developing their business in regards to artists and compensation. Spotify has caught a lot of criticism from industry insiders as well. According to independent musician David McCandless, you would need to be played over 4 million times just to make $1,160. While the service is great for small bands just simply seeking promotion, the service is not as financially lucrative towards large established performers who command higher earning revenue. A lot of those large, established performers are the ones who have their music pulled from Spotify due to such instances. Other criticisms, is the short gaps in between albums that are meant to be listened to seamlessly, and the lack of a more in depth suggestion service to suggest new music to you, much like iTunes “Genius” service does. As time progresses, I only see these problems becoming smaller as the service gains new paid users, makes more money from subscriptions, ads, and contracts from record labels. Subsequently then, Spotify can probably afford to pay the artists better and invest in more bandwidth to have more seamless music playback. I enjoy the service for the possibilities it provides, and because of the diverse, eclectic selection of music I crave. The service is a great platform for small entrepreneurial performers looking to be discovered due to the naturally social network friendly integration of Spotify. Services like Spotify are created with intent for its users to discover new things, and to appreciate art that you already love and appreciate. I am excited to see where music streaming, Open Music Model services go as they become more popular and make more money so they can increase their selections and amenities to offer to the music community. I honestly see this as the fans winning, and the artists winning in a win-win situation due to the potential absence of the money machines and corporations that attempt to govern the people and how we live our lives. Spotify FTW! (for the win)