time to change the way we view music and the arts

This Tag Team Can Spot What You Should Play Next

For those of you that like to be comfortable, to use the same products, services and talk to the same people all of the time, this post might just shake things up for you. …That is, if you are interested in trying something new for a change.

While Apple, iTunes, and Cloud Computing have been flooding the world of cyber buzz for probably more months and fiscal quarters that most of us care to remember, other services have existed and developed in the background, lying in wait to take music listeners by surprise. Pandora, Last.fm and the Amazon Cloud Player are just a few examples of other brands that have more quietly struggled against the press storm Steve Jobs seems to command above all his fruit labeled products.

One company in particular though, has been somewhere between that seemingly immortal power of Apple’s and the subtle growth of ‘everyone else.’ That company would be Spotify. The reason I say Spotify floats between the pools of popular and so-so is because of it’s actual availability factor versus long pre-existing buzz. Spotify is a UK based company/service, and has been around for several years now, with great reception in said country. Up until NOW, Spotify has not been accessible by the United States. Not legitimately anyway. To that end, Americans have known about the differentiating power of the program from its iTunes competitor for almost as long as the service has existed; thus the independent campaigning done in the past via platforms like Facebook, to have Spotify brought to the States.

If by now you’re wondering what exactly makes Spotify stand out to this niche of America music lovers so as to prompt them to promote for an branch of company expansion, here is a very practical, succinct video review of Spotify, done by columnist Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg News.

To me, I see the simple breakdown like this, if you are to relate to existing services and have never experience Spotify itself before:

A brand competing, usage potential close to iTunes.
An interface similar to iTunes
The streaming / Artist Recommendation power of Pandora
The user interacting, share factor of Last.fm
The online storage angle of Amazon
And the “nothing in life is free (forever) contingency of almost all of the above.

Additionally, Pandora used to be free and free 24/7, after it gained brand momentum and a mass of users, Pandora is now limiting it’s free members to a finite amount of streamed listening time to 40 hours a month, on top of intermittent spoken ads. Another unfortunate downside to Spotify itself having already been around for a while, even if not in America, is that Americans aren’t given that nice segment of time where the company is feeling itself out to consumers and therefore making things free and unlimited. Spotify in general, used to be like Pandora was in its initial stages. Now, as Jaroslosky’s review states, free users get 10 hours of listening time a month, and 5 streams per song –unless you want to upgrade to a paid subscription. At least when comparing the sheer numbers, Pandora’s 40 against Spotify’s 10 appears an easy choice, but Spotify let’s you pick what you want to hear and you get to hear exactly that. Pandora doesn’t extend to specific song requests, beyond making a radio station centered around a type of song.

Coincidentally, (or more likely not) Universal Music Distribution Group launched a “fan-facing music playlist service” called Digster.fm, that not only functions as its own service, but can complement Spotify to create that user-reccomendation experience. Whether new users take to Digster.fm because of its inherent individual appeal or to boost Spotify, the UMDG will gain users and awareness regardless. That’s simple yet brilliant planning if you ask me. No work to manage Spotify, just tailgate on the back of their well-engineered music-streaming car.

Will I spot you requesting an invite for Spotify? :-) (Yes, you need an invite right now, but just put your email address on the page for link I listed above and an invite will come.)

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