Spotify Says Hello to the Walkman

Spotify’s new feature announcement is great news for its freemium users, casual listeners and iPod owners. If you’re one of these: rejoice! You can now benefit from cheaper-than-iTunes MP3 purchases, wireless syncing and Spotify-lite on your mobile. But for Premium users like myself there’s not too much here to get excited about.

When I signed up back in ’09 for Spotify’s cloud service in the sky, I shifted from downloading MP3s to accessing Spotify’s near-infinite stream of on-demand music. This was a complete pardigm shift in the same way that vinyl to CD was (actually,¬†more so). So this week’s introduction of an MP3 download store seems a bit of a backwards step to me. Granted it’s bound to hoover up some pennies from the freemium users (who were probably never going to upgrade anyway), but it also waters-down Spotify’s unique selling point (on-demand, P2P-based streaming music service) and further muddies Spotify’s message of being “the best alternative to piracy.”

The whole notion of MP3s and iPods seems so last-century to me now that I’m left somewhat perplexed about Spotify’s direction and wondering what’s happened to its bold, pioneering vision of a music-streaming future. Whether this diversification was self-driven or inflicted on Spotify by the record labels we’ll probably never know. I guess the figures didn’t add up and there are still too many “legacy” downloaders and iPod owners who aren’t yet ready to exchange file ownership for streamed music access.

Don’t get me wrong though: I think it’s fantastic that freemium users now finally have a chance to use Spotify Mobile: it’s a brilliant app – mobile’s killer app – but Spotify Free for Mobile doesn’t access the Spotify stream, making it essentially just another way to play MP3s (albeit one with a unique wireless syncing feature that’s bound to appeal to iTunes users).

Spotify have lost some friends of late (a bunch of freemium users and oh yes, 7digital) but I still have true faith in the company: despite the focus and innovation seemingly aimed solely at free users, their Premium streaming service still remains second-to-none.

 

Needless to say, many stories and reactions to this latest Spotify news have appeared throughout the day. Here’s a selection of the best:

 

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