What Does The Future Hold For Spotify?

About a week after I wrote about the future of DRM and cited Spotify as an example they made an announcement about some changes they are making.

The changes will affect users of the free service.

The announcement has the full details but in short,

You get a six months grace period, after that.

    • Listening time will be reduced to 10 hours per month.
    • You’ll only be able to play each track 5 times.

That second restriction is a massive change to how Spotify works when using the free service.

Something that jumped out to me in the announcement was this

The changes we’re having to make will mainly affect heavier Spotify Free and Open users, as most of you use Spotify to discover music

It’s a part of why I use Spotify, but not the sole reason. I like the fact I don’t need to worry about music. I don’t need to worry about storing files or DRM and the like. I just create playlists, and have the software installed on any devices I need. This means I’m going to hit that five play limit very quickly.

Am I different to the average Spotify free user or have they misunderstood how their users are behaving?

As you can imagine there was quite a reaction to the blog post that made the announcement.

On one side you had people who make use of the free service who were up in arms and the people who are on the paid for service who were basically telling the people on the free service to “put their hands in their pockets”

I can understand the reaction to a degree. But as one of those free users my understanding is that the trade off is having adverts dropped into my playlists. This effectively funded my free subscription which I was quite happy with.

I have a choice now – upgrade to a paid subscription to continue using Spotify in the same way that I do now, stop using Spotify or change my reasons for using Spotify (music discovery which what they seem to think people are using it for)

So why have Spotify made the change?

I’m no music industry expert but I do have a few theories.

1) Spotify want more paid subscriptions.

Maybe this was the plan all along. Get lots of users onto the system, paid or free and then change the rules so that if those users want to stay they’ll have to pay. Sure they’ll lose some of the free users but they weren’t paying anyway right?

2) The business model isn’t working

It could be that the advertising revenue isn’t quite quite as good as they initially thought. Maybe the free service was so good they haven’t got as many paid subscribers as they were expecting and need to make the change. Previously the only reason I’d considered upgrading would so I could use the mobile service (I was waiting until my phone upgrade was due before making that decision). Free service was that good for me I could have stayed on it quite happily for some time.

2) They don’t have a choice

It’s no secret that Spotify have had problems launching in the US and that lots of the labels aren’t entirely happy about the free service. It’s quite possible they’ve had to do some deals to keep the labels happy.

Maybe it’s a mixture of all three?

The changes come into force as of May 1st and as a long time user I won’t even get the six months grace period (if i understand the changes correctly)

What’s to stop me creating a new account every six months though?

It’ll be interesting to see how it works out.

How do you use Spotify? Will you be moving to the paid service or looking for something else altogether?

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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4 thoughts on “What Does The Future Hold For Spotify?

  • Nice post mate. I was thinking of giving up my premium subscription but I guess Spotify have other plans for me! It’d be hard to go back to large music catalogues after using the service for almost a year. iTunes just can’t compete with the range of tracks and functionality of the app.

  • I think it’s a cracking service and following on from your post last week it fit me perfectly. Without trying to overdramatise the situation, it stopped me ripping off music.

  • I’ve only ever used the paid for service, signed up last year so I could stream on my phone in my car. I then got a Sonos around Christmas & Spotify is even more valuable to me. At £10 I think it’s good value for money, both my wife and I use it on our mobiles, several PCs and Sonos. If you don’t need the mobile streaming I think the £5 a month deal is a no brainer.

    I used to download albums from P2P sites and did feel guilty about not paying. I generally countered this by going to concerts for the artists I really liked. It feels good to be paying what I think is a reasonable cost and doing so in the way I think almost everyone will be doing in the next decade.

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