Spotify – the iTunes Killer and new advertising platform in one?

Spotify Logo

In the past I’ve been a bit of a die-hard when it comes to digital music. Although I’m a huge fan of iTunes and I’m on my second iPod, thus far I’ve been a little resistant to purchasing digital-only music. I have purchased a couple of iTunes plus albums, but apart from that everything in my collection has been ripped from CDs I’ve bought. Why am I boring you with this background? Well, I was recently introduced to Spotify and I think it might have completely turned my attitude to digital music upside-down. And, if it’s done that to me, chances are it will do the same for thousands, if not millions of other music-lovers.

But why? It totally removes the need for an on-disk music library. It has the potential to be an iTunes killer, and an Amazon MP3 killer, and in fact the death knell for any other download-based music service you’d care to mention. By eschewing the traditional model of downloading tracks to your PC or Mac, Spotify streams the music to you, on demand. Unlike the other ‘iTunes Killers’ that aim to replace the desktop application and/or  subvert DRM, Spotify totally changes eliminates the music-ownership model.

How Does it Work Then?

First off, you sign up for one of three accounts:

  • Free – which is ad-supported
  • One Day Pass – gives you 24 hour access for £0.99
  • Monthly Subscription – ad free and gives you more features for £9.99 a month

Then you download the application to your computer, search for what you want to listen to, and away you go. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? And it sounds fairly run-of-the-mill as well? Not worth getting excited about? You’d be dead wrong.

Spotify’s aim is to have everything available for listening to. Everything. It’ll take them time to do that, but right now, there’s an absolutely amazing choice of music. Since signing up barely a week ago I’ve listened to some old favourites, albums by artists I already know and love, and music from artists I’ve never heard of before. Without Spotify, I wouldn’t have been introduced to the amazing ‘Smokin’ O.P.’s‘ by Bob Seger, I wouldn’t have heard the Stereo MCs ‘Live at the BBC‘ (that took me back!) and I certainly wouldn’t have listened to Eilert Pilarm and his staggeringly bad rendition of Suspicious Minds (it’s really something). Piano trio jazz, my favourite music, is very well served indeed, thanks to the huge back catalogue going back to the 1950s.

A New Digital Marketing Opportunity?

One of the reasons I’m particularly excited about Spotify (aside from pure geekery) is that it presents a new and very compelling digital marketing opportunity. I mentioned the Ad-Supported Free Version and whilst most of the ads have been for HMV or “MADAGASCAR THE MOVIE!!”, an ad for Snow Patrol caught my attention and caused me to act. When was the last time you acted a few seconds after a radio ad? Or a banner ad? Err…

The ad started with a member of the band introducing himself and encouraging you to listen to their new album, which is of course available on Spotify. In that instant, the interface changed to show me the album and gave me a link to their biography and back catalogue.

So that was me – I played the album, listened to it all the way through and also checked out some Bon Iver, also recommended  by Snow Patrol.

Looking back on it, I was amazed at just how compelling the ad was, even at this early stage. As the number of advertisers grows, and as the profiling improves, so the integration between advert and action will improve. And with that will come more effective advertising – neatly solving the problem of how to finance digital music.

Sad to say, I could almost see a day when I don’t buy another iTunes track or a CD and simply stick to Spotify. Given a couple of years, the catalogue will be even bigger, they’ll have videos in there, movies potentially…

If I Were Steve Jobs

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I’d do if I was Steve Jobs, but in this case, if I were him I’d be firstly very worried and secondly looking for my cheque book.

I’m not one for predictions but this really could be the iTunes killer, unless it’s snapped up whole by Apple before it gets too big.

What Do You Think?

Share my enthusiasm? Disagree with my assessment of Eilert Pilarm? Let us know with a comment!