Founded in 2006 by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify, the new online music service is now being downloaded by over ten thousand people a day across Europe. The sheer number of downloads is making Spotify a serious competitor in the battle of the music download providers and its popularity is growing by the minute. Jim Wilson welcomes the new iTunes rival into his life.
The iPod hit our shores on October 23, 2001. (2001-10-23)Compared to CDs, tapes and MiniDiscs, Apple offered something different. CDs scraped, jumped and bumped around but with the arrival of the iPod and Apple‘s download service, iTunes, skipping tracks were now going to be a thing of the past. iTunes offered the iPod listener the chance to download music for 79 pence per track. It was new, it was revolutionary, it was cheap.
However, times are beginning to change. iTunes has dominated the music downloads market for several years now and the iPod is the most successful MP3 player on the planet, but several big music companies are now wanting a piece of Apple pie. Amazon is now offering listeners music downloads from 59 pence per track, undercutting iTunes by 20 pence. In a bitter price war, within a week of Amazon‘s price cut, iTunes had followed suit. But is this just competition between Apple and Amazon or are these price cuts being made as a result of the new addition to the music download family, namely Spotify?
Spotify offers music to listeners for free and that’s something that could leave iTunes and Amazon quaking in their boots. It seems to be a simple concept – offer listeners free music in return for a 30 second advertisement every few songs – and sofar it seems to be working. Over ten thousand people a day are downloading the Spotify software and the easy-to-use iTunes-esque program appears to have been an instant hit with music listeners who don’t want to pay for their music and choose instead to stream it for free over the internet.
However, there is one problem. Spotify is available for free to download to any computer of your choice. While this is good for consumers, it remains to be seen how the Spotify team will cope with such high demand for the service and just how exactly they will make any profit. An advert-free premium service is offered to customers and priced at £9.99 per month but will that be enough to tempt people away from the free service already offered? In tough economic times like these, consumers are saving every penny they can. A free music service (even with the frequent advertisements) can therefore only be seen as a good thing.
The intense media coverage over the past few months, particularly in the UK, should however ensure that Spotify is around for a few more years. Facebook has already been invaded by several fan pages and the internet is awash with stories praising Spotify’s successful battle with the big players in the music download market.
Spotify does seem to have taken over the UK music download scene. It even seems to have even invaded our very own GUM HQ. Since Spotify’s arrival on the web, the office really hasn’t had a moment of peace and quiet. A Facebook group has even been created in honour of Roberta, one of the voiceovers for Spotify’s advertisements.
It’s definitely a sound way of listening to practically every album ever produced. And all for free from the comfort of your own PC.
iTunes, your days are numbered – Be afraid, be very afraid.