Entries in spotify (1)

Thursday
Apr142011

The end of Spotify?

Today there's been a lot of discussion around Spotify's announcement of changes to their open plan subscription. In case you've missed what's happening here's a quick summary:

  • from the 1st of May anyone who signed up to Spotify Open on or before November 1st 2010 will be limited to listening to a track five times
  • if you've signed up to Spotify Open after November 1st then the above change will come into affect after 6 months of usage
  • the total free listening time is also being reduced from 20 hours per month down to 10 hours per month

In their blog post Spotify confirm that there are no changes to the unlimited or premium subscriptions. They also explained their reasoning behind the move.

Comments on the blog are mixed although many seem to follow the trend of the first:

So long Spotify. It was nice knowing you. Guess I'll go back to pirating music again then.

I'm somewhat surprised as to the backlash that Spotify is receiving from this announcement. After all the unlimited plan comes in at £4.99 per month and for that you get unlimited streaming and no adverts – surely a fiver a month is a small price to pay in return for not having to hear those ever so annoying adverts, right?

I've been a user of Spotify for a while (a quick check of my account shows I've been a paying subscriber since August 2009) and in that time its certainly saved me a considerably amount of money. I used to purchase 10-20 albums a month, some of which would get many repeated plays but a fair share only ever listened to once. I still buy the occasional album but most of my listening is online.

However the monetary saving isn't the most important thing to me. Where Spotify adds the greatest value is the ability it provides around the discovery of new music, particularly when combined with LastFM. Having a huge library available to me at a few quick clicks of a button is invaluable and I'd be lost without it. It's also added a greater social experience to music. Before Spotify whether it was with friends at home or colleagues in the office conversations such as "...you should listen to this song..." were restricted to the music you carried with you.

Of course none of this beats the experience of going to a gig and hearing live music. But that's an entirely different post and I won't comment on it now.

In Kate Solomon's post on Tech Radar she identified a potential problem in that Spotify may have given away too much too early. Kate used the metaphor:

...it gave us the whole beach to build sandcastles in and then slowly but surely caged us in to that one crappy bit by the sewer with all the sharp shells and pebbles

I'd be inclined to agree with that – no one likes things being taken away from them. However you can't but help think that this move was inevitable and if not made could have led to a much worse situation of Spotify disappearing for everyone.

...so lets hope that this change doesn't result in the end of Spotify but rather something that'll encourage more people to realise the benefits of being a paid subscriber and prolong the life of a great service.