Spotify has finally become available to American audiences, hopefully ending their seemingly indefinite legal troubles in bringing the possible future of the music industry to US shores. But what is Spotify, and why should you be excited?
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. But how does it work (or make money, for that matter)? Well, it does so by giving you three options:
Free makes money? Well, the catch is, there are ads every now and then. These ads bring revenue to Spotify who then pays a fee to the rightholders of every song played on there, similair to a radio station. It also restricts you to ten hours of music a month Fine and dandy for light users or if you want to use it to occasionaly replace radio at the office, but potentially annoying for home users.
2. UNLIMITED (5 bucks a month)
The same as the free service, but without ads or the 10 hour restriction.
2. PREMIUM (10 bucks a month)
Premium gives you the same deal as ‘Unlimited’ but a huge perk is that it allows you to mark tracks for offline use, if you then synch your Android or iPhone Spotify app, voila, it has those tracks.
Seems pretty good, huh? It’s basically everything you wished iTunes to be and works in a similair way to boot (they can even share a library), if iTunes gave you the full track in stead of a snippet.
Another great feature of Spotify is the sharing of playlists. You can synch your Spotify profile with your Facebook profile and browse playlists from your friends that they’ve published. You can post them directly to Twitter or Facebook, which are fully integrated, or anyplace online using the URL to a playlist you’ve made, attainable through a right-click (the same goes for individual songs, by the way). Festivals can create playlists of artists playing there (like Lowlands 2011 did), indie record labels can create playlists acting as samplers for their label and the artists (if their rights are managed properly) receive a tiny fee for each played song. It’s a great way to get to know new music, it’s free and it’s legal, what’s not to like?
This post may start to sound like an infomercial (which I assure you it is not, TRU holds certain journalistic standards in high esteem) but using it over the past months I have found some minor inconveniences. The ads for one, aren’t that bad usually when they’re spoken messages (you’ll soon recognize “Hi, I’m Jonathan from Spotify”) or simple radio commercials, but when your Sunday morning Wailers playlist is interrupted for a 30-seconds snippet of Limp Bizkit’s new single it does become highly cringeworthy (Which that song is in any situation, by the way). There is no fade-in/fade-out mode which would make it a full replacement for radio for some or usable as your ultimate party jukebox. Slight gaps between songs are noticeable sometimes as well, which doesn’t do much harm to the listening of most albums but does get annoying when listening to live-albums, mixtapes, or albums which have a continuous sound (like most albums by The Roots, for instance).
Those are minor huddles though, and I’d certainly recommend Spotify. It seems like a business model fit for both consumers and artists in the age of the internet, and the three differing levels of commitment allow anyone the use that feels suitable to them. The only people who will not be hailing this as a welcome addition to the music industry are those who are still fully engaged in the sale of silver-colored plastic discs, which probably explains the reluctance of the RIAA to allow Spotify onto the American market. But diversification means survival in this case, and sales of the aforementioned discs will only plummet further, becoming something only of interest to the most avid collectors. Who, by the way, are for a large part more into vinyl anyway. Something like Spotify could very well be the future of the music industry, so let’s be happy it’s a user-friendly one.