I first tried Spotify many years ago, back when playlists were quite new. At the time, I was living in the UK and a big user of last.fm but, out of curiosity, I spent an afternoon building one playlist out of the few tracks they had that I liked.
I was/am into house and techno but the tracks were not yet available on Spotify back then - but the originals which were heavily sampled sure were. So I ended up with a playlist of funk, disco, blues, hip-hop and jazz that was kinda familiar, lotta fun.
Fast-forward several years and I'm living in Australia, where last.fm is a paid service that had stagnated, so back to check out Spotify again...
It had millions more tracks.
It had learned from my playlist. Discover weekly is soooo good.
It had my attention and my credit card.
To the parent poster, I suggest you treat Spotify like a friendly muso willing to lend you her near infinite collection. I've you've ever wondered about $GENRE, go and play. I have no relationship with Spotify except as a very happy customer.
As an example, I usually don't really like most music that goes into the house, techno, electronica or even dubstep directions. Most songs I find to be horribly repetitive and lacking in good buildup/melodies. However, there are exceptions I can enjoy very well (say the Soundtrack to Tron Legacy or a few tracks from Overwerk).
But after listening to stuff like this, Spotify keeps recommending the other kind to me, which I just find tiresome.
I've got the same problems with other music directions (Tool and Rishloo vs. countless rather dull prog rock tracks, or black metal recommendations after listening to In Flames/Dark Tranquility).
The whole artist radio does the same for me. If I start it up, it's because I'm interested in more similarities than "well, it's ordered in in the same genre somewhere"...
: Yes, I'm aware that has pretty much nothing to do with what Daft Punk usually do, but that's frankly the reason I like it.
An interesting thing, come to think of it, is that Spotify never recommends classical music to me in their "Discover Weekly" list, although I do listen quite a bit to such recordings. I wonder if this is because they realized that "Classical Music" as a genre is mostly not good at all (I don't know how many people who like Vivaldi's music would also like Arvo Pärt's works as much, but I doubt that they're in different internal genres in the Spotify database).
Other explanations could also be that such recordings don't make enough "buzz" or that the attribuition to specific composers is more difficult (since the performing musician/orchestra is usually included as "artist").
Im more inclined towards progressive trance/psy trance type stuff which I think aligns more with Classical music you mention (since I usually listen while I work). I love electronica remixes of Vivaldi and other classical pieces, for instance. I enjoy Tool as well, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer and have a much more difficult time discovering in that direction, but I listen to them less frequently as well. I also listen to a lot of rap, and intermittently some other types (almost anything but country).
Im always finding good new electronica of the types I like and rap, but their algorithms definitely could use some improving. I would particularly like an unlike/thumbs down feature like Pandora had and may still have. Id like that so that it a) never show me that song again, and b)could potentially be used to further tailor the results.
I suspect this uses the same underlying algorithms as Discovery Weekly, except that DW uses the songs you've listened to as the basis.
Discover Weekly does suffer from a pollution problem — listen to one style of music for a while, and the entire tone of your DW playlist will change. Fortunately, the above trick works.
There's also the Release Radar  playlist, which seems to be an undocumented feature. It gives you new tracks by artists you follow, as well as related artists based on some mysterious metric.
DW explicitly excludes classical music and also jazz, for some reason. I think I've had Arvo Pärt come up, probably because he's a contemporary artist; same with folks like Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
That's a very common problem - a lot of tracks are unavailable anywhere except Beatport and Juno, and even more are on vinyl-only releases.
I have actually subscribed to Apple Music just a few hours ago, after spending couple of hours trying to give Spotify money from a non-supported country with no avail. And, of course, the music selection is... limited, for a lack of a better word.
Is Spotify better in that regard?
I allways skipped most of the songs, but if it manages to give me 1-2 new tracks I like and never heard before this is a big big win for me.
Back when pirate music blogs where still popular I used to skip through tracks of about 70 different artists a day, download 5 albums of these, and than keep maybe 2 albums a week, buying it when I returned to them more often too. Spotify was really a huge leap forward, being able to skip thorugh albums legally and "aquiring" as many as I whish.
Also I noticed if you're listening to a playlist when it ends it will automatically start a Radio based on the songs within that playlist.
I love the Alexa and Google Home Integrations.
My phone has started doing that recently, which has left me puzzled a few times. I like listening to music at work, and while I'm concentrating on something, I don't really realize the playlist has run out until I get a track that really makes me wonder how I ended up listening to it.
I tend to listen to Spotify's Discover Weekly anyway, though, as the very first song it ever recommended to me was this amazing gem:
It replaces the new-release light bulb dropdown menu that they removed some time ago. Apparently you can still get emails for new releases, if you go into your notification settings.
I listen to music 5-6h a day now, all for dirt cheap (less than $2/month/person). I wish somebody would do the same for video content. Right now you have to subscribe to many different providers to get all the good content. So pirating is still more convenient and i still download rather than just pay a small, fixed amount.
Well, maybe music is just cheaper to make and easier to sell as a bundle.
Another issue that's worth bringing up: Artists are getting screwed by these models as well as YouTube (2, 3). Only the largest stars can hope to make a lot of money on scale or exclusives. Everyone else gets scraps. While platforms struggle for dominance, we as consumers benefit from low-cost subscriptions or "free" music but I feel the bands and musicians who make the music we love are getting seriously short-changed. It's not right.
I think that Apple is much worse than Spotify in this particular point.
The only game in consumer tech is (assuming supply) being able to predict, more accurately than your rivals, what users want. As soon as Spotify are no longer cut off from supply, then the organization with the best data and best machine learning will win.
Spotify has always talked about losses being expected, they want user growth at any cost.
If you're trying to gain users at any cost then other businesses will take advantage of that desperation.
But in any case, I do believe that the way Spotify will be able to have real leverage is for it to start being their own label, not just getting exclusive content. I feel like it would be cheaper to just bring on either independent artists or artists that are kind of not "into" traditional labels but are popular, rather than pay for exclusive content since it is probably less work but more expensive to do the latter, while the former would take a by of work but cheaper in the long run. It's subscriber base being so large may be a bargaining chip but I would guess that a lot of its current subscribers would move to other services were it to shut down, so it can't be that big? Sheer volume in a market with competitors that would be basically the same but with a different UI and maybe some different content can't count for that much can it?
The more indies Spotify gets, the more it can tell labels to go screw themselves if they don't want to take a deal, in the future.
Alternatively, Spotify could also try to do what Netflix is doing with shows and movies and start funding indies through their own label.
I bet that'll come up more and more.
One important differentiator might be to get the Japanese record labels a bit more aligned, all streaming providers have been faring terribly on that front.
Despite that, I'm thinking about getting a spotify sub anyway. The music discovery and especially the user playlists I find to be far superior. GPM is really lacking hard on the social front.
Lack of an API and no real social aspect are the two big pressure points for me to move to Spotify.
It's also not cheating creators.
You're paying the wrong people then. If you want to help artists buy their music instead of renting it from streaming services, which may lose access to it at any time.
If artists keep signing with labels, their problem. You don't need a label to be on Spotify.
Let's call it what it was: Plain piracy. Grooveshark had no rights and licensing in place for the content they streamed.
So yeah it's a bit more piratey than other upload sites, but that could have been solved with a policy change to not upload music illegally from corporate accounts. For artists they were much more accessible than Spotify currently is, but they hated labels for taking a huge cut and didn't make deals up front. I can't say I disagree with them. I still miss Grooveshark.
I really think you're misguided here. Sure, evil labels are a welcome narrative for Grooveshark's very illegitimate service. I'm sure you're already familiar with these stories, but to get a taste of how Grooveshark used to deal with artists read this: https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2011/dec/12/groo...
Youtube on the other hand is actually used by artists as a promotional tool. And if it isn't their takedown process actually works. Almost too good judging by the stories about false positives in their ContentID system.
However the fact that labels come in all forms and colors is often ignored. There are truly caring small, independent and successful labels that serve as curator rather than expensive middleman. Artists can absolutely have fair deals with a label.
Furthermore for music enthusiast seeing new releases on a favorite label is a strong indicator for quality. That is a valuable service.
Spotify is a problem if it's not sustainable - and it doesn't seem to be for the company and artist alike.
I'd be paying twice: the artists themselves and the streaming service (which gives part to the artist again).
From my all-time favorites I did try buying directly, but they usually don't even have a contact method other than through the label or on a public channel like Twitter. And if I manage to send an email, they don't bother with individuals and just ignore it. Only a few artists have online shops where you can buy directly.
It's a zero sum game after all.
I can see how it would be a fun hobby to curate your own collection, but for me it's really hard to beat services like Spotify, Steam, Netflix - DRM or not.
I'm not worried about that - it's not my collection, it's Spotify's. I'm merely paying for the unlimited consumption of their collection on demand, not to purchase the songs and have them for life.
It'd be a different story if I expected the songs I listen to on Spotify to be available forever, but I don't, and that's not what I'm paying for.
But I've been there.
When Grooveshark quit -- I was a paying member and had no up-front notice -- I lost my complete library. I've looked into making a back-up before and figured out some technical requirements for that (e.g. I cracked the "encrypted" cached files) but never really got around to it. A list of which songs were in my library and playlists would have been all I needed, but I had no such thing.
Spotify doesn't offer this either. Like with Grooveshark, you can find technical ways of getting around it, but they're not jumping at the opportunity to provide a JSON export that you can import into another music service.
The other side of the coin is that not all music is available. Even now on Spotify, if you enable "show unplayable songs" there are a lot that turn unavailable every month. I don't want to think of which part will not be available at a competitor's.
For all these reasons, I agree with the person you're replying to. But I made the same decision as you -- i.e. I use and pay for Spotify -- because those indie stores just don't have enough music by a long shot to make it worth the trouble. Ideally it would be that way, though.
The hard part is explaining to our mothers that their music app might become unavailable, that they should care about this, and that they should take action to mitigate the effects.
But on the other hand, consumers get locked in all the time, and civilization hasn't collapsed yet.
Only thing is that composing that playlist again would be a major hassle. I have a list of bands and artists, I guess I could spend a weekend going through discography lists by Wikipedia and other sources.
Some albums I bought recently:
And you are right. Stuff often ends up on Youtube, which is great for discovery too. And again, if I like something, I'll gladly buy it (as long as it's accessible in DRM-free stores).
We need to make at least one assumption: Spotify will have the music you want to listen to when it is released (not always the case - and for myself - it is never the case.)
If you spend more than $120/yr on music it could make financial sense to "rent music" from Spotify with a premium subscription instead. If you aren't particularly attached to music you listened to last year, or five years ago, or a decade ago, then it doesn't make sense to want to own the music to begin with. If there is a particular artist you're attached to, that doesn't prevent you from also purchasing that album. You can also use Spotify to check out a band you just heard about . I don't even use Spotify but recognize why others would instead of purchasing music.
 Remember the assumption we made.
I guess so, but it's clearly not my case. I can listen to music in my collection, no matter when it was added. Otherwise it wouldn't end up there :)
Yah there's enough of you to support some niche stores, but it's great this works for you, but it doesn't matter for most consumers.
This is what I do. I use Spotify as an on-demand radio. If I like an artist or album, I buy it in physical form. (Usually on record because why not? And it often comes with a download code.)
I just find it different to rent me content transparently, eg Netflix and Spotify, versus rent-by-pretending-to-sell, eg Steam.
If you sell me something, I should be able to use and transfer it at my discretion without your permission. Steam, instead, leases you something on no fixed term and presumably without any guaranteed lifetime.
I'd be inconsolable for a few days though.
With Netflix the backlog situation (region blocks, limited catalogue) is pretty dismal, but with Netflix at least I know that a good part of my money goes to creating content.
With Steam most of the money ends up with the developers, again supporting content creation. I do buy games if, and only if, I find the price is right for playing the game once (or for a couple of weeks, depending on the type of game). If my Steam library is still accessible in ten years time than that is an added bonus. I do admit that a lot of the games I buy come with a Steam key, but are purchased from DRM-free stores (e.g., Humble Store).
But music is a completely different beast. If I like a song or an album, then there is a good chance that I will listen to it periodically for a good deal of my life. I buy music for keeps. With Spotify my money doesn't end with the content creators themselves for the most part, and I don't get to keep the music. It just doesn't work for me.
* I'll have stopped gaming
* Most games need emulating because they won't run on our hardware in the future
* The games are dirt cheap to buy on GOG
* Someone will release a pirated collection most of them
So I'm not too worried about my personal Steam collection. Preservation, that's a different story...
While I consider myself an enthusiast, I understand that people have different priorities and for many music may not be that important, but Spotify's library is anything but unlimited - there's just too much music not available on any streaming service. And more importantly you can lose access to music at any time - licensing deals end, labels and artists change their mind and suddenly your favorite album is gone. Netflix knows a thing or two about that.
Renting music is not an option for me. While I use Spotify as a preview platform and for minor discovery (though it's mediocre for that), I prefer to buy and own my music losslessly.
I just wanted to describe my point of view and as passionate music lover and collector Spotify alone wouldn't work at all for me. It's just too much music missing there, but that includes hard to find, rare stuff, vinyl-only releases and niche genres.
And digital has much lower distribution costs than CDs; you don't need to pay for physical CDs to be made, you don't need to pay for shipping, you don't need to deal with retail's huge markup. And on top of that Spotify's paying customers are paying 2-3x what average CD buyers were paying.
There might be issues with the split of revenue between artists and studios or super popular artists vs long tail artists, but the actual revenue going to music license holders seems to be very healthy.
There's still a lot of stuff you can find on Beatport that you can't find on Spotify, for example, and most of the hipsters wouldn't even call Beatport "underground"
I'm not sure what would be involved to be able to access my music through a web browser at multiple locations that syncronises with multiple devices every time I add a song to a playlist but I don't think 'effortless' would describe it.
That's one way music availability on spotify is better, the other thing is that I honestly don't even remember what music discovery was like before spotify, I think it was mostly youtube videos...
And if we are talking convenience, it's really not related to DRM. I.e. nothing stops DRM free store from offering you a sync service or anything of that sort (GOG do it with Galaxy for instance). If anything, DRM always reduces potential usability as above.
Neither are mine, I intentionally avoid pop, rap or rnb and other soft mainstream music.
> May be it makes it easier for me
Certainly would, there's no way I could manage this:
> nothing stops DRM free store to offer you a sync service or anything of that sort
Except the insane amount of effort and cost involved in running such a system:
I'm sure someone could setup a drm free store that sync'd to phones etc but then I'm limited in music discovery, I don't have the sort of money to swing around at albums and songs that may or may not sound good to me.
If I have to purchase a song before I can hear it I'm reluctant to, so i'll then go to youtube and that immediately invalidates the whole point of DRM.
What would be nice is DRM free streaming, and I'm spending more time on soundcloud but again that's not as good as spotify is in anything.
If you think it's proper, you can charge for such convenience (i.e. some subscription fee). Why not? Those who want it, will pay for it. If you think you can manage without charging - all the better (GOG don't charge for it for example). Nothing from the above requires DRM.
> What would be nice is DRM free streaming
Bandcamp offer that too. You can download what you paid for, and you can stream it as well.
Bandcamp is an online music store, not a music discovery service.
> Nothing from the above requires DRM.
Correct, however there's nothing currently out there that compares to spotify which is my original argument.
What you described as "the benefits of DRM-free media.", I've described as "the current inconvenience of DRM-free media.".
Maybe in the future there will be a DRM free service that has the same features as Spotify, if that's the case I'll sign up, but until then the limitations of DRM free streaming are obvious, I'm just trying to point them out to you.
Searching a store for music and spotify's music discoverability are not really the same thing.
Searching a store for music is like going to a bookstore, going into a genre you think you might like and then picking out a book, buying it, getting it home and finding out you don't like it, double disapointment in that you've just lost money buying something you didn't like. That's a problem spotify solved.
> What other discoverability do you need?
Spotify's discoverability is like having a librarian who has read millions of books and has seen the thousands of books you've read, then personally handing you a book there's a good chance you'll like.
On top of this you're able to read it right then and there, if you don't like it she hands you another one to check out, and another, and another, all of those based on your personal tastes with a high success chance you'll like it.
I came into this like you with a mindset of "My tastes in music aren't mass market", that must be why I struggle to find good new music, but turns out I had a problem finding it. You can see from my last.fm that in all of 2008 I had listened to 128 artists at least once, last week alone I listened to 187 artists.
It's hard to convey just how good spotify is, music discovery personanlised for you and all the music you do like, delivered in under 200ms, at a fixed cost per month that plays on all the devices I have (even my work PC) without the need to transcode, upload, download, move/copy/manage or do any work on my behalf.
Does this suggest someone can't do the above with DRM free media? No. But just like a vegan burger that tastes amazing that service isn't out there right now.
I want to know how much Techcrunch got paid for this advertisement.
Makes you wish for functional public capital markets so we knew the real story.
A good chunk of those 50m aren't paying $10/mo; they've expanded their partnerships (in part) to inflate that number.
Interestingly Apple did a similar thing with Telstra (the largest, formerly state owned carrier), with a year free on 1 year contracts.
That has now become more of a free trial sort of deal though: https://www.telstra.com.au/applemusic
Conversely, the "daily mix" playlists seem to be utter crap for me.
I don't understand. The 'My New Music Mix' feature is exactly the same as Discover Weekly. It presents you a weekly playlist of music you don't know yet but might like based on your listening patterns. I've used both extensively (I have subscriptions to Apple Music and Spotify) and they do the same thing (although obviously with different algorithms).
Would be nice to try, but it is restricted for me.
This goes for traditional news orgs as well.
Yes, it happens often. Journalists get paid with scoops, etc (aka in the industry as "access") and that buys some favorable pieces and a sympathetic ear on the other side.
Here's an example (there are countless others from all parties and from tons of companies):
>Ergo - every decent news story amounts to 'bribery'?
Where did you came with this weirdo conclusion?
Bribing a journalist/media with scoops if something that happens, not something that ALWAYS happen -- so it doesn't apply to "every decent news story".
For one, not every scoop has been leaked to the outlet breaking it by the company/organization that the scoop is about.
>I think you bit your tongue on that one.
No, he really didn't.
George Orwell's "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations" is the best filter to apply in these situations.
Not much revenue. Spotify is famously stingy in how much it pays artists, to the point where big names like Taylor Swift are keeping their releases off Spotify.
If not going to get into the usual debate about free market and value but I thought it was worth laying out some actual figures as 'labels are taking the money' is the go to argument here when in reality having no label isn't going to work for most artists either.
NB: To get your music on all of these digital services you need a distributor like CDBaby (many others are available). I left out their cut in the figures above but for digital services it is 9% of net income.
A Spotify subscription is more than I have ever paid for music, even half of it is - and the moment I stop my subscription I loose access to all of it. To me it sounds like the labels are the ones dictating, one way or another, who get's paid and how much.
Yes, but which labels and artists? There is a notion that people have that when they listen to Spotify, Spotify takes their $10/mo and divides it up among the artists that they've listened to. That's not how it works. Spotify takes the money, puts it into a giant pool and divides it up globally based upon total number of plays.
So, for example, let's say I'm a huge fan of Portugal, The Man. I listen to them, and only them, all day, every day. That doesn't mean that they get my $10 a month. They get paid in proportion to what percentage they are of the total number of Spotify plays. If I'm the only one listening to Portugal, The Man, then they're not going to be a high percentage of total plays, and they're not going to get even $10 for the month.
Meanwhile, lets say that Kanye West drops a new album, and he skyrockets to 60% of all listens. He's going to get 60% of the money, even from people like me who haven't listened to any of his music during the month.
Now, you might argue that this is a fair solution. But it does explain why a lot of smaller artists (and big names too, like Taylor Swift as mentioned above) are very wary of Spotify.
Now where the money actually ends up seems to be up to the labels.
The 1990s CD boom is over, and it turns out it wasn't a law of nature.
I'm happy to listen to the artists I favour, as much as they get paid little, they do get some revenue from it
Edit: just joking, I am actually irritated I can't check out the Discover Weekly playlist, whenever it comes out in discussion. I just checked, my country is still not on their list.