Business, Entertainment, Software Programs

Spotify Mobile Goes Free, But with Restrictions

Yesterday, Spotify announced that they would be making the Spotify mobile app free to all users. As someone that has been using Spotify ever since it came to the US market, I can tell you that it is probably the best music service out there. Furthermore, they are constantly improving the app’s compatibility with vehicles as the experience on my Spotify mobile app has gone from barely working to flawless in the span of about 10 months. The Spotify app, be it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone enables you to access virtually any and all music that’s out there on the web legally and cheaply at the price of free.99 or $9.99 if you wish to have premium access.

In the past, Spotify required users that wanted to have mobile app access to pay for the premium $9.99 subscription and all free users were stuck with PC only if they wanted to be able to access the music for free. However, the free version on the PC and Mac still required users to listen to ads and such. And admittedly, at first, this was a great way to get introduced to Spotify. But once you start using the mobile app and all of the premium features, that’s when you get hooked. The ability to download music and listen to it offline is absolutely invaluable when you consider the fact that a lot of people listen to their music when there is simply no internet access. Spotify gets that and lets you cache the music inside of Spotify so that you can still listen whenever you’re offline. Now that Spotify has taken away one of the crowning features of the premium subscription, it definitely reduces the value of paying the $9.99 a month since you’re basically paying for the right to not have ads and to locally download the music.

Do keep in mind, however, that if you stop using Spotify and you’ve download those songs. The music will disappear once your subscription expires or once you uninstall the app. As such, you never really own any of the music but basically are paying for the right to use it. And don’t get me wrong, I think that this model fits me better for some music, but other music I simply want to own (see Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories). Spotify’s ultimate goal by doing this is to draw in more customers as a whole and to introduce them to the service so that they get hooked like I did and want to make that next jump in order to gain a better experience with more features and no ads. We actually recently went over Spotify’s business model goals for the future based on a blog they posted so that you can better understand where they’re going with this announcement. They also went over how they pay the artists, which is a really interesting formula and may not work out the way you might think it does.

So, in addition to not being able to locally store the music, users will not be able to play individual songs. They will either have to play their own playlists (which they can make up using individual songs on the desktop app) or they will have to listen to songs by a certain artist, or a certain ‘radio’ station created based on a certain type of song or artist that they like. The premium version of Spotify has all of these features, but also allows you to pick individual songs and play them in any order you want without having to use a playlist and pre-populate them somewhere. This is because of the way that music royalties are paid out and defined and if a song is allowed to be played individually instead of as part of a playlist or a radio station, the cost is higher. By doing it the way that they have, they reduce the cost of the royalties and are more capable of paying for the music royalties with the ads. Although, right now, Spotify is still losing money on their business, which is one of the reasons why they may be looking to expand with the new mobile app, to increase their overall install base hoping to also increase their premium subscribers.