Is That Spotify In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

by | Aug 6, 2011

I’ve been playing with free streaming music service, Spotify, for a few weeks now (ever since the Stockholm-based service launched in the U.S). I now wonder if there’s a reason to buy music ever again.

Spotify does not have every track one might desire in its library of 15 million tracks, but I’ve been able to locate 90% of what I’m looking for — mostly albums I don’t own from artists that I know I like. When I find the albums I want, I merely drag them over to the left-hand sidebar to create a new playlist. Then the album is always there for me when I open Spotify, without paying a thing for it.

See you later, iTunes.

Cupertino’s got to be hating this. Spotify’s user interface (UI) even looks like iTunes’.

According to Los Angeles Times, Warner Music chief executive, Edgar Bronfman Jr., is one music exec not hating Spotify (note: Warner, three other major record labels and an independent label own a little over 17% of Spotify).

He predicted that Spotify, which is currently paying more money for music royalties than it makes in subscriptions and advertising, would be profitable if it can continue to induce its free users to spring for the premium service.

“The kinds of levels that Spotify is currently achieving in Europe is also extremely encouraging,” Bronfman said. “If that keeps up, they will be a very profitable business themselves.”

Presently, 1.6 million mostly European users pay for Spotify’s premium service, which lets them use the service on mobile devices and home audio systems such as Sonos. The free stream is ad supported.

Subscriptions run $9.99-a-month in the U.S., or about $120 a year. I used to spend $120 in a month with the iTunes store, but all that ended when I changed my iTunes store ID in the fall of 2008, an unfortunate step that rendered all the songs I purchased from Apple unplayable on all my Apple devices. No, I’m not joking.

But back to Spotify, I have to say it’s a great music discovery engine, as well. I’m currently listening to YACHT, for instance — something I might not do if I had to pay for the privilege. Should YACHT or the other bands I’m discovering on Spotify become new favorites, I’ll eventually pay to seem them live, and I’ll no doubt end up writing about them and/or telling friends about them.

By the way, this is the service MySpace could have launched but didn’t. It’s also much more intuitive than,, HypeMachine and a host of other start-ups that have tried to advance in this space. If I want a random playlist based on past preferences, there’s Pandora. Other than that, I’m looking for music on Spotify.