In the past week several people have informed me that they have downloaded and are using Spotify as a result of reading this blog, which is really pleasing. At least one brave soul had also been listening to some of my recent recommendations – thanks Jim! As a result, I thought it was about time to write another article updating you with the latest developments surrounding the Swedish streaming sensation.
At the end of April there was an interesting interview on the Guardian’s Digital Content Blog with Paul Brown, Spotify’s new UK managing director. Worth a read, but some of the main points he touched on were:
- There are now more than a million registered users in the UK
- A “decent proportion” are paying for the service (either £0.99 per day or £9.99 per month)
- They have launched a partnership with 7 Digital to sell downloads which is likely to expand
- They are looking to extend the range of quality content available, including things like Peel sessions that were locked up by radio contracts
- They are looking seriously at portability and specifically, paid services available on the iphone.
Spotify and I
From a personal viewpoint, using Spotify for the past two months has transformed my relationship with music, in terms of how I listen and what I listen to.
For a start, it’s proving to be a solid gold ‘try before you buy’ tool and more effective than any other I have used. For the record I have actually bought more albums than usual during that period (although that’s partly due to birthday vouchers etc) so listening to streamed music for free has not stopped me buying music, it has just helped me make even better choices.
I roadtested and later purchased the following excellent albums:
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
- The Decemberists – The Crane Wife, Picaresque
- Great Lake Swimmers – Ongiara, Lost Channels
- Vetiver – Tight Knit
- Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
- Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Being There
- Staff Benda Bilili – Tres Tres Fort
- Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
On the other hand, I chose not to buy a few others after giving them a Spotify spin (U2 and Doves take the walk of shame – although I did download “Kingdom of Rust”).
It is also a fantastic way to discover bands you’ve not heard before. Before Spotify I was not really aware of The Decemberists, Great Lake Swimmers, My Morning Jacket or Wilco and had never even heard of Cara Dillon or Staff Benda Bilili. The first couple have fast become two of my very favourite bands and I’m gradually working my way through their impressive back catalogues.
Spotify is also a fast and efficient record identifier. Last week Nic mentioned a couple of times that she’d heard a song on the radio she really liked and wanted to download it from itunes. Only problem was she had no idea of the artist, only a rough idea of the title. Thankfully that was enough, and within about 20 seconds I’d discovered the song in question. In the days before Spotify it would have taken a great deal longer to track it down and may have been quite a frustrating process.
If you’re a new user you might be too spoilt for choice to decide what to listen to, faced with such a huge array of great music. If that’s the case, help is at hand. There are a number of web sites where people are sharing the playlists they have compiled, and two of the best are Spotify Playlists and ShareMyPlaylists. Once you’ve got the hang of it of course, you can join in the fun by sharing your own selections.
What price freedom?
I’m beginning to wonder what we ever did without Spotify to be honest, and I can’t believe that (at least for now) it’s still free. The adverts have become slightly more irritating but an occasional 15 seconds of Iggy Pop shouting on behalf of an insurance company is a small price to pay for so much great music.
However, as the company explores more revenue streams and looks to develop its business model they will undoubtedly try to tempt more of us to pay for the privilege. Back in March if you’d asked me if I’d pay £9.99 per month for the premium service I would have resolutely said “Never!”. But if that price were to cover an ad-free service and unlimited downloads as is the current rumour, I’d have to give the proposition some serious thought.
And so would Apple!