Spotify in America

Last month, the long-awaited music streaming site, Spotify, opened its doors to US customers with much fanfare.  Utilizing the artificial scarcity technique (which I love… this guy does not), they built up a lot of hype and – at least in my opinion – knocked it out of the park.

Admittedly, the whole scenario played out as a bait-and-switch to many users.  Users would sign on, with hopes of getting their hands on a Pandora-killer.  In many ways, that’s exactly what they got.  But after a couple hours of uninterrupted music induced euphoria, the advertisements would start to play.  I’ll admit – I tried to get away from listening to ads.  But alas – I couldn’t press the skip button, and I even found that muting the sound on my computer did nothing but pause the ad.  I was stuck, much the same way I once was with Pandora’s free service.

But then I started poking around some more, and found that there were a lot of songs I just couldn’t play, because they were exclusive to paid user accounts.  Well, shoot, that’s not cool.  I really had to hear Kesha’s “Blow” and there was no way I was going to surf over to YouTube to pull up the video.

Maybe I’ll just pull it up on my iPhone, then, and see if it will work there.  Whoa.  Even more limitations because I was just a puny free user.  All right, all right.  Fine.  I’ll pay that $9.99 monthly fee.  Just to try it out a little bit.  Why?  Because I’m a sucker.


At this point, you may be expecting me to go off on a tirade about how much of a ripoff this whole thing is, but you’d be wrong. This story has a happy ending. I was resistant at first, but like Laura dismissing Urkel’s advances, I eventually gave in. To be honest, this service isn’t terribly different from Rhapsody or Zune Pass. They all offer all you can listen subscriptions to music. Why should Spotify even be relevant? Let me break it down for you:

  • If You Build It, They Will Come
    Spotify has managed to pull of some killer licensing terms with the major record labels.  Want to listen to it?  It’s probably there.  Even the obscure stuff.  I don’t have accounts on those other services, but from what I’ve heard – Spotify’s library is more impressive.
  • On The Go
    You can sync your playlists with your iPhone and even mark them as available for offline play.  So next time you’re in a Vegas hotel room and are too cheap to pay for Wifi, you can have your music ready to go without having to stream a thing!
  • On The Fly 
    Unlike Pandora, you can control exactly what you want to listen to.  Spend a few minutes, click around, drag songs / artists / albums to your current queue, and away you go.  Don’t want to think too hard?  Find an artist’s page, go to the Artist Radio tab, and you’re all set.  You can have it either way.
  • Getting Social
    After signing up, you can link your Facebook profile to share music with friends, view playlists, and top artists.  If you’re embarrassed that the Backstreet Boys have cracked your Top 5 and don’t want to share, that’s fine – you don’t have to… But it’s cooler if you do.  The other services have social elements, but nothing like this.

Spotify can survive because their timing is just right.  They’ve got clever marketing and they provide a service that “just works”.  People are buying into “the cloud”, they care less about owning than they do instant access (think Netflix), and they’re all about being social.  I swear they’re not paying me a dime for the endorsement – I just like these sort of conversations and this is a service I believe in.  That said, I urge you to check it out!  Put yourself on the list or sign up for a paid account to see if I’m just blowing hot air.