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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  • As a premium user, I have nothing to complain for now, though I share the concern over the possibility that Spotify might lose their focus in this direction.

    I’m not sure why the best cloud music service decided they should “lower” themselves to the level of iTunes Store and start a fistfight. The success of Apple is simply Simple, one price for all tracks(though now they charge more for popular tracks), so most people get it. Spotify was as simple as could be, but now no one can fully understand it’s open/free/unlimited/premium/multiple-price-mp3-bundles model unless they spend at least 15 minutes researching. And most people start to complain when the first misunderstanding occurs.

    I still believe that it takes Spotify the cloud service, not another mp3 store, to convert an iTunes downloader. As far as mp3/CD goes, Amazon Cloud Player/Store is still the best. They are selling Kid A at $2.99, the new Fleet Foxes albums for $3.99, and this 85-CD Brilliant Beethoven boxset for $29.46.

    http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Beethoven/dp/B004HGQXB8/

  • Do not confuse on-ramps with motorways! ;D

  • Great article, I feel exactly the same.

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  • Andreas


    Granted it’s bound to hoover up some pennies from the freemium users (who were probably never going to upgrade anyway)”…

    …and who were probably never going to buy mp3s anyway?

  • Well, probably, but don’t underestimate the number of users who still want to “own” their music and want MP3s to fill up their iPods. As anti-piracy P2P laws start to become stronger, more casual listeners will get scared away from the torrent sites and look for alternatives. A to jump music streaming and monthly subscriptions might seem like too much of a commitment, so Spotify’s cheap downloads offer them a good, familiar alternative.

  • Andreas

    By the way: Did you know that Spotify downloads have an expiry date? See here: http://ow.ly/4PNdi

    What do you think about it?

  • Yes, I saw that (thanks to @mi:twitter ). At first I thought it meant that the MP3s themselves expired – that would have been unforgivable. But they’ve structured it so that you buy a download “bundle” which you then use to get the MP3s you want, a bit like XBox tokens. The download expires after 30 (or 90) days, presumably so that you don’t buy a stack now and hoard them until – I dunno – the price of MP3s go up.

    Spotify claim it’s part of the deal with the record labels to enable them to offer the downloads at a lower price and maybe that’s true. I suspect it’s an attempt to make sure you keep coming back to Sptotify. For example, say you have a playlist of 95 songs you want to purchase. It’s cheaper to buy a “download” of 100, but then you’d have 5 left over. You’re happy with your 95 songs for a while, so you go off with your iPod and travel the world. But since you still have those 5 downloads left, you make sure you return to Spotify within 30 days so that you can spend them. This makes Spotify and their advertisers happy, since you’re back using the client.

    Either way, the expiry thing isn’t that unusual: with Skype for example, your credit expires if you don’t use it for a certain amount of time.

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