MY MUSIC IS BREAKING OUT IN SPOTS
Are you ready to go back to the heyday of the 1980-90s music industry? We’re not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds damned tempting.
As you may have seen on the telly, this week a new free music streaming service called Spotify launched in Australia–it’s been up and running in the US and other overseas locations since 2008. There have apparently been a few delays getting Spotify here including scrutinizing the fine print with the participating record company labels and at the last moment, synchronizing the launch with the availability of an iPad Spotify app (of course). Never mind–it’s here now and Spotify in Oz are claiming it’ll revolutionize listening to music and even prompt a return to those aforementioned heydays where everyone pays for what they get and piracy is sunk for good.
The concept is pretty simple–and nothing new, really. Spotify provides a media player GUI on your PC, Mac or preferred mobile device and you can search for and play individual tracks, entire albums or choose streams and radio stations according to your favourite genre. With a library of sixteen million songs to access you should find something you like. Mind you, some major acts have declined to be involved and you may be disappointed to find your favourite, world-famous band isn’t available.
Does it all sound too good to be true? No surprise, there is a catch to the free thing. If you subscribe to the free version you’ll pay in another way–you get to hear 30 second advertisements every ten minutes. Also, the music is streamed at 160 kbps, which won’t matter a rat’s to many people, but we care. Alternatively you can buy an Unlimited package for $6.99 a month which removes the adverts and lets you do a few more tricks, or the Premium package cuts all the red tape, will give you access to new music “before it’s released” and offers Enhanced Quality–by cranking the bit-rate up to 320kbps.
It’s all legal and above-board. Spotify reimburses the artists on a pay-by-track-played basis. You’re talking nanocents per play, so for sure the big-name acts can still benefit (Spotify has forked out over $250 million to labels in the US since 2008), but lesser-known bands will struggle to get a pay-cheque worth more than the stamp on the envelope it comes in–they’ll be far better off selling one bootlegged CD at a live gig, than getting a hundred plays on Spotify. However, Spotify are saying its system is a big step towards encouraging younger people to listen to music legally rather than pirated sources, because of the perception the music is free.
There is a significant Facebook component. You can only log in to Spotify via Facebook and sharing favourite songs and playlists is supposed to be all the rage.
Spotify isn’t the first. Several music streaming services already exist in Australia including JB Hi-Fi’s Now and Samsung’s Music Hub, plus Sony turned on the juice to its own service just days after Spotify. They all vary slightly in cost, the devices they support and the size of the libraries accessible. The direct competition is music downloads–a one-off purchase of music you’ll keep like iTunes. Pundits are predicting music streaming will constitute one-third of all music revenue by 2015. Give the download business its share of the market and CD albums are certainly looking boutique like vinyl releases.
For the recording industry every cent paid for music is always better than getting nothing for a pirated version, but is streaming another kick in the guts in the battle for keeping excellence in audio quality and production values?
What do you think? Post a comment below.