What is Spotify?
Spotify is a DRM(digital rights management)-based music distributor that allows members to access streaming music via their computers or mobile devices (Premium members only). The platform was created by Daniel Elk and Martin Lorentzon in October of 2008, and was originally released in Sweden. Today, Spotify’s service is offered exclusively in Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and most recently the United States. In a recent interview with the Washington post, Elk and Lorentzon explained that they created Spotify “out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy.” This is definitely a key feature of Spotify, and will grab major popularity for music fans who are tired of dealing with the danger of breaking copyright laws, computer viruses, YouTube audio converters with horrible sound quality, and not being able to find an obscure band on iTunes or otherwise. With many piracy sites shutting down, Spotify may be the perfect place to turn for large quantities of music at a moment’s notice.
The Major Features of Spotify are:
- Access to over 15 million songs, slightly more than iTunes library of 14 million
- More variety with access to musicians recording under independent labels and outside of the American music scene
- Ability to share music and playlists among users via Facebook instant messaging
- Affordable pricing for both memberships (Unlimited and Premium) and limited availability of free memberships (Open)
<ul><li>Open Membership - free but American users of this service will be limited to only 10 hours of streaming music per month and a limitation of five listens per track</li>
<br>Unlimited Membership – $4.99 a month, unlimited streaming of music, no advertisements</li>
<br>Premium Membership - $9.99 a month, unlimited streaming of music, no advertisements, offline access to songs and useable on mobile devices</li>
My Review of Spotify
Being a huge music fanatic, I knew that the time had come for me to find a more…”kosher” place to download music. iTunes was bankrupting me and I hated the fact that I may be paying for music that I wouldn’t necessarily enjoy enough to give it a value of $0.99. I had considered Rhapsody or even just continuing to pay for iTunes but when I heard about Spotify I knew I had to check it out.
I decided to forgo scouring the internet for a free-access code and instead opted to just actually pay for the service since it’s clearly less money to pay $10 a month for the premium membership since I would spend more on iTunes. The first thing I noticed was that the Spotify platform, which I downloaded easily onto my Mac Book Pro, was very clean, and actually had a sort of Limewire feel to it. This is either meant to be ironic or was intentionally done to put Spotify’s target market (music piraters) at ease with the familiarity of their former music source. In the spirit of social networking, Spotify immediately prompts users to link to their Facebook accounts and has a sidebar with Facebook instant chat. This is a feature because I love sharing music with friends though it’s not quite social yet since there aren’t many American users. This has the potential to be perfect for showing your favorite artists people and instead of doing it song by song, like you may on Skype, you can share an entire playlist.
Another clear Facebook feature of the site is the Spotify feed, which promotes Spotify’s own playlists and other current music news. The playlists will no doubt be used as another revenue stream for Spotify, since their content is often connected to a current event, such as the Mercury Awards.
I mentioned before that Spotify offers a more extensive library than iTunes or Pandora which I consider to be a major benefit for people searching for new music. Though I haven’t delved far into the independent artists offered on Spotify, I’m sure I’ll like what I find. On that note, it seems the only thing missing is some sort of Pandora-like feature to incorporate some of these indy artists into the mainstream. Perhaps the user’s shareable playlists will become popular as a search engine for music hunters like myself, similar to that of the iTunes playlists that users can create based on genres, moods, events, etc.
Lastly, the pure accessibility of the music is vital, I haven’t yet experienced problems loading a stream, but should the site get overloaded with users, I see the potential for bad playback as often happens with iTunes song previews. As a Premium user I do have access to offline playback but I noticed an icon which signified my songs were available for offline, which makes me wonder if some songs would not be accessible without internet access.
Overall, I give Spotify an A- for finally giving us a solution to music piracy, offering a wide variety of songs, integrating with social media in a way no other major platform has, and for its affordability. I hope to see Spotify introduce more features, such a Pandora or Genius component, and I anticipate it being much more useful socially as it gains popularity in the United States. For those interested in trying Spotify and are looking for an Open Membership, some invitations are around if you go to the Spotify website and fill out your contact information. However, word is that these emails take a long time to actually be delivered so a better option may be Chevrolet's current promotion. Chevrolet is currently offering invitations to United States music lovers if you go to their Facebook page and request an invitation from Spotify. The first 150,000 people to do this will receive an invitation via email. Though not widely publicized many other companies are offering similar promotions online but will definitely be enforcing a limitation on invites so get them while you can.