Spotify Predictions

Spotify is really taking off in Europe and especially in the UK, so I thought this would be a good time to make a few predictions on where I see Spotify going in the next few months.

I definitely expect to soon see:

  • More content. A lot more content. This is an obvious given, and every week sees thousands and thousands of new tracks (and new partners) are added to Spotify.
  • Free registration for the rest of Europe – Spotify’s strategy of gradual roll-out makes sense and proves its scalability. I expect most of Europe to be fully Spotified soon (barring publishing restrictions of course).
  • Spotify for iphone – This surely must happen soon: already rumors abound that there’s an beta-program, and one commenter here has even posted a proof-of-concept video. Making this a Premium subscriber service would make sense (and, I expect Spotify hope, a lot of money). Of course, this all might be de-railed by an end to net-neutrality.
  • Open API – Users have been screaming our for API access to Spotify (well, the geek programmer users at least), as this would provide a wealth of plug-ins and added-value features. This might work like Firefox Add-ons and grow its own user-base of Spotify supporters. One thing it probably won’t do though is to allow the Spotify client to be replaced, as this might hurt ad revenue.
  • Social media tools – It’s not just zeitgeist, social media is here to stay and any app that has user registration simply must enable them to communicate and share with each other.
  • Version 1.0 – the current Spotify client is only at version 0.3. They may take the Google route and keep it as a beta for months and months, but I expect a greatly enhanced 1.0 release to tie-in with the iphone app. Spotify use the getsatisfaction site for customer service and support, and have proved that they listen to users by updating the app with (for example) the much-requested scrobbling feature.
  • More adverts – Once the userbase hits some critical mass, I expect the number and frequency of commercials to increase. This will annoy many users, but it will also be enough for many hooked on the service to pony up some cash for the Premium service.

We’ll probably also see at some point:

  • Spotify for USA – Although expansion to the US is generally expected by most users, Spotify could be very profitable as a Europe-only service (in the same way that, for example, Rhapsody is a profitable US-only service). I would expect that the rights bought by Spotify from the music publishers are for Europe only, a whole lot cheaper (and easier to negociate) than global rights. Perhaps not until Spotify hits profitability (or is bought out by someone like Apple or Google) will it be available in America.
  • Spotify for Google Android phones – I hope so!
  • Properly tagged tracks – Spotify have automated systems that are fed lossless music and metadata direct from the record companies. The system converts and compresses each track into a smaller (but still relatively high-quality) Ogg Vorbis file and adds it to the Spotify database along with the corresponding tags (artist, title, album, genre, runtime, publisher). This is all completely automated: contrary to what you might have thought, Spotify do not pay hundreds of students to sit and rip CDs all day. But there’s a problem in that some suppliers provide poorly tagged track names, frequently missing out the name of a mix. So you end up with lots of EPs that seem to have the same song 7 or 8 times in a row, when in fact they’re all different mixes. I hope Spotify come up with a fix for this soon, as it’s the biggest annoyance for me.

But I don’t think we’ll see any time soon:

  • Downloadable (MP3) tracks -I expect Spotify (like have streaming rights only and are not allowed to make the content available as downloadable files. I expect they’ll add click-thru Buy buttons to existing mp3 resellers, certainly for the free version. Premium subscribers might have the option to save, but this would require a conversion process. Spotify does save files on your local drive, but these seem to be pieces of encrypted Ogg Vorbis files (i.e. you can’t just rename a file .mp3). All this is kinda moot though – the desire to keep a personal copy of a track will become anachronistic: why bother wasting local drive space when all the music is in the cloud and available on all my devices instantly?
  • Movies – Spotify is bult around doing one thing very well: streaming audio using a simple interface. Adding movies to this mix is a completely different business model and I expect would require an extensive redesign to the underlying architecture. So I don’t think we’ll see movies on Spotify too soon.

So, those are my predictions on what we might soon see in Spotify. Do you agree? Any other predictions?