I think that Spotify could become as indispensable to music as Facebook is to socialising.
Currently 320,000 of the 7 million people that use Spotify pay the £10 subscription rather than listen to the advertising based free version. That’s a good conversion rate – and they are now one of the top four digital accounts in revenue internationally to two of the major record labels. More and more people will come round to seeing that a fiver isn’t much to pay for the most accessible, well categorised and extensive collection of music ever.
It is a business model designed to entice users away from the illegal environment – and one that looks like it could succeed. It is still a young company (it launched in October 2008) but has already taken on the might of Apple by liberating iTune’s users who were shackled to Apple software.
But with rumours of Apple venturing into the world of cloud music – Spotify had better up their game. In an ideal world Spotify would become ubiquitous and remain fairly priced – but to do this it needs to become viral.
The first thing Spotify needs to do is allow people to categorise their playlists/albums in folders. With all that music available we need better ways to organise it – something better than a primitive single list of playlists. Spotify have confirmed that this feature is coming soon.
As soon as this happens it will be much easier to archive those truly great playlists and albums and get down to the exciting possibilities available.
The possibilities of playlists are yet to be fully exploited. Drowned in Sound have led the way by running Spotifriday – a weekly playlist with comments and links to the individual song reviews. Some celeb’s and musicians have created Spotify playlists – eg Radiohead, Gomez and Charlie Brooker. But it still doesn’t seem to have caught on properly – NME embed YouTube videos but don’t make any good use of Spotify playlists. Most of the music magazine websites I have looked through don’t seem to make much use of Spotify.
This is something that must change – Spotify playlists can be like the free CD’s you used to get with music mag’s, only a million times better. Now we have the possibility of a regular feed of free musical advice from people whose opinion you can come to really respect – music journalism is at its best when you can hear what is being discussed.
If this is something that the established music media industry won’t adopt – then hopefully bloggers will lead the way. Any young person trying to make a name for themselves needs to start exploiting the sociability inherent in Spotify – and show how this massive music database can be fully adopted and utilised.
I look forward to seeing musical histories – or a critics favourite songs with notes explaining their reasons – songs tied together around a theme – musical documentaries – the list goes on. The social element of Spotify is great and I love seeing what songs and playlists my friends are storing. But the enterprise really needs leaders to take it to new levels.