Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

In 2007, I met fellow serial entrepreneur Daniel Ek and was very impressed with him and Spotify, his new music service. I blogged about it, calling it the Joost for music. Unfortunately, since then, Joost has faded away and as a small investor in the company I lost some money. But the concept of Joost lives on in Hulu. I should have called Spotify the Hulu of music, but in 2007 Hulu was not around yet. And, in any case, Spotify is so famous now that people are calling the all-you-can-eat, $10 per month, streaming service of Netflix the Spotify of movies. And we are all waiting for Spotify to launch its own movies service.

Two years later, in January of 2009, I blogged that Spotify was coming to Spain. The response was great. Many readers asked me for invites. Spain took off nicely for Spotify, becoming an over represented country in the Spotify community. This I found very interesting because over here music downloads are legal, nobody needs to pay for music, and yet, Spotify has done super well. Indeed Spotify in Spain thrived despite competing with free.  That people would either pay or put up with advertising is just another proof of how great Spotify service is. Or most people I should say, because until today I was not one of them. Even though I pay for and for Grooveshark, I could not get myself to pay three times as much for Spotify Premium. And because I hate commercials I was not using the free Spotify. Instead I had in my Sonos, Grooveshark in my Android phone and in my Blackberry, and both services in my computers. These service are around $30 per year instead of around $150. So I became this unusual person in Spain who first promoted the hell out of Spotify and then failed to use it. It would have helped had Daniel gave me a free premium account, but I guess he is as cheap as I am, and did not volunteer. 🙂

So, no Spotify for me, until today. Today Spotify introduced a €5 per month service that is not as good as the premium, but good enough for me to join. It does not allow you offline playing nor mobile playing, but it gives you all the songs you want for less than I used to spend in a week on music when I was in college and used to raid Tower Records, spending $100 or more per visit. Now Spotify costs twice as much as or Grooveshark, but not 5 times as much.

If you don’t have Spotify you are probably wondering what makes Spotify so great. Or why it’s the only web service in the world that Americans seem to be truly sad that they don’t have. Here’s a list of what it does:

It piggybacks on iTunes and makes all your iTunes music and lists available to you, even all the music you have without copyright (which is not a crime in Spain to download).

It blends incredibly well with Facebook. You sign up, connect with Facebook and have instant access to your friends’ iTunes and Spotify lists.

As opposed to and Pandora, you can play the song you want when you want it. This, btw, is where Spotify can lose their shirt because licenses for radio playing are much cheaper than song on demand licenses.

The quality of the music is great and the speed at which a new song that you asked for plays is remarkable.

On the negative it does frequently happen that you go to a friend’s list, want to play it, and you get a message that says “this track is currently not available in Spain”. The solution? If you are in Spain, go to Vuze, Limewire or simply to a friend, get the music, upload it, and then Spotify considers it your own and plays it off the list of your friend. But, Grooveshark for example, does the same thing for all your computers. Spotify, probably more closely watched by the rapidly vanishing music labels, actually check if you have the music in your library at that computer before it plays it for you. This forces you to use Spotify from computers with huge hard drives to avoid the “not currently in Spain” label and that gives an advantage to Grooveshark. Especially on netbooks and mobile phones.

If you are willing to pay €10 per month, the offline and mobile playing should be great.

Lastly, I would like to say that I think the two best user experience entrepreneurs in Europe are Janus Friis and Daniel Ek. They both went into crowded fields: VOIP/Chat and music players, and outdid everyone else.

What else?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter:

No Comments

Eduardo on May 18, 2010  · 

Dear Martin,

I’m a free Spotify user since the beginning of the service in Spain. I have to admit that I don’t mind hearing some ads (cause I don’t pay attention to them, hah!). I tried Premium account for two months only to test it with my iPhone and the results were VERY, VERY GOOD, INDEED! I knew I was not going to be a long term premium customer as the price is really far away from acceptable for an average user like me. I’m glad to hear that you thought the same way although you have not my economic restrictions… I changed to GrooveShark (3 € monthly) and my experience is not being so good in my iPhone as it’s much more difficult to play a whole CD (you can only select song by song). I have even sent them a formal request to include this basic feature. They answered me saying it will be in the next mobile version.

I will not upgrade my Spotify account to Unlimited as I only will pay for a mobile version.


3.0 rating

raul b Glück on May 18, 2010  · 

10€ was too much for me just to have music sometimes, but 5€ is fair in my oppinion.
I´d rather to have one “iphone version” to have my songs offline but I guess the music companies wouldn´t like it too much, so 5€ is ok and besides I have Internet in the office, fon spots, 3g, free wifi spots in the airport or my port, etc; so I can access to my playlist quite often, It is nice to have another “pack” not so expensive as before.
I have just bought one 5€ account, it is fair in my oppinion.

3.0 rating

Rodrigo SEPULVEDA on May 19, 2010  · 

The good:
I’ve been a happy premium sub to Spotify (10€/mo) since they introduced mobile last year.
I use it all the time on my 2 macs laptop+desktop (as many as you want actually I believe). you get this for 5€/mo.

But I love the hability to sync my playlists for offline use (laptop when I travel), and sync them with my iPod touch to the gym. More than happy to pay 10€ for my music, ie. all that I can eat, whatever device, wherever I am.

The bad still:
I feel the social part is not quite there yet (discovery of MIXED playlists in a stream, interaction with your friends), and for that I fall back to my beloved service.

3.0 rating

Juan on May 19, 2010  · 

Spotify was available in Spain in 2008, not 2009, been using it since then and love it 🙂

3.0 rating

kerry on May 19, 2010  · 

the real weakness is that spotify doesn’t work with Sonos. i WOULDpay 10 euros/mth to have spotify work with my Sonos system!

3.0 rating

Mariano Cardoner on May 19, 2010  · 

I´m really thinking in getting a premium account at this price… although is bad that you cannot get mobile streaming.
I will just wait to June 7th to the Apple WWDC, since the rumors are saying thay finally iTunes will go onto the subscription and streaming model.

3.0 rating

Moof on June 3, 2010  · 

I must say that I am enamoured with Spotify premium on my Android phone. Being able to listen to my favourite music offline without having to worry about transferring files is great, and being able ot just download new, or forgotten music on the fly (3G permitting) is excellent. Works well at gatherings, too.

I think my favourite new feature is being able to synchronise the MP3s I have physically stored on my computer with offline playlists on my phone – the procedure is painless, add the files to a playlist, set the playlist to offline on my phone, and just leave them on the same wifi network for a while – THAT’s synchronisation.

I haven’t tried Grooveshark, and I’m not much of a fan of iTunes, but I have been thoroughly enjoying spotify now for a while, and recommend even the “expensive” Premium service, just for the phone experience.

3.0 rating

cheap nike sb dunks on June 7, 2010  · 

I like shopping and is my favorite place to shop. Everything nike dunks shoes and Vibram FiveFingers you can imagine is offered

3.0 rating

Leave a Comment

Español / English

Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets