Should Spotify Mobile be premium only?

By on Sep 7, 2009 in Editorial |

The Spotify application and it's "home page"

The Spotify application and its "home page"

You have no doubt heard about Spotify, in fact given the amount of e-mails I get asking for invites, I’d be amazed if you haven’t. In my opinion, Spotify plays a crucial roll in the world of on-line music distrobution. Before you commit your money to buying a whole album, I believe, you have a right to try before you buy. Much to the chagrin of music companies, illegal file sharing perfectly fits the roll. You get the try the album with no hassle and no money changing hands, and then, as long as you’re honest, when you’ve made your decision, you can choose to delete the album, or go and buy it from a DRM free online music store. To me, doing this, while of questionable legality, was the nearest on-line alternative we had to the headphone booth in your local music store.

However, Spotify came along and took away all the grey area of illegally sampling music. With Spotify you can stream music across the internet and listen to it as much as you like. With adverts if you pay nothing, and without if you pay £10 a month, we’ll return to the premium service below.

That is not to say that Spotify is perfect. When it first started it was more perfect that it is now. Since it’s been going, the record companies have been stamping their ignorant size 12 boots all over it, so that we now have region restriction on some albums, while others have been pulled completely, even though Spotify are constantly adding more and more tracks. To the record labels I say this; the more restrictions you put onto a service like Spotify, which you should be thanking your lucky stars for, the more you will push people back towards illegal file sharing. It’s a simple mathematical matter of convenience. Spotify is actually more convenient than getting music via file sharing. If you prevent people listening via Spotify, they will by simple human nature, opt for the next most convenient option. Sorry, but it’s a fact of life and you can either work with it, or be burned by it. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s how things are.

Now, lets look at Spotify premium. For some people who would spend hundreds of pounds a year on music, and hate the adverts, then this £10 a month could represent good value. Speaking for myself, I just don’t get that much new music, so £10 a month is an expensive option for me, just to block adverts, which to be honest, aren’t that intrusive (and if I’m saying that, then that means something). So I will stick with Spotify making advertising revenue from my listening, and I think the majority of Spotify users are the same.

Spotify Mobile running on Android

Spotify Mobile running on Android

The next generation of Spotify is a version for your mobile phone. As of today, we know that Spotify Mobile is available on the iPhone and Android phones. So hopefully, we will soon see it available on other platforms like Symbian.

I find the prospect of the mobile Spotify being a premium only feature somewhat self-defeating. However you look at it, paying to effectively rent your music, never has been, and never will be, a good deal for the consumer. I don’t see the added value of a mobile application is going to change this. Let’s prove this by contradiction. If you weren’t prepared to pay for Spotify premium on your desktop, but the addition of a mobile app would change your mind, then you are effectively saying you’d be willing to pay £10 a month to have an application on your phone. I find it hard to believe anyone would fall into this category.

Conversely, if Spotify made their mobile application available to everyone, they would be expanding their prospective advertising audience. Advertising revenue must be valuable to them, given that it’s unlikely many users pay for premium. Speculatively, they must only be surviving on advertising revenue, with the addition of some venture capitol.

To conclude, please Spotify, reconsider the mobile application. We all love you, and want to use your service, but £10 a month for no ads and a mobile app is too much. Just mirror your desktop business to the mobile world, and everyone wins.

P.S.
NO, I don’t have any Spotify invites to give you, but I will make a blog post, if and when I do 😉