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Spotify will now suspend or terminate accounts it finds are using ad blockers (techcrunch.com)
799 points by sinstein on Feb 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 931 comments


Spotify has a pretty cheap paid option that removes all of that. To those who justify wanting the paid service for nothing by saying Spotify won't "take responsibility" or "assume liability" for their ads or those ads "might deliver malware" or are "intrusive" as a weak rationalization, you present a false dichotomy. There are at least three options:

1. Pay for the service

2. Suffer through the ads

3. Don't use the service

This thread is an object lesson in why basically every large service on the Internet is ad-supported. When people aren't willing to pay for 1-2 coffees for a month of unlimited music streaming are you really surprised that companies have no choice to use an advertising revenue model?

Contrary to popular belief, ads can be delivered without arbitrary code execution. The Spotify app already has the ability to deliver audio and video, that's all they need. The mistake here is letting third-parties onto users devices. It's a disgusting industry-wide practice that needs to stop. Using the existing audio/video delivery system would render "ad blockers" useless. "thrid-party blockers" would still work as intended though.

And if the approach is “I won’t use services that want to use 3rd-party-RCE-style ads”, it makes sense to me. But the folks who are blocking ads are taking Spotify’s offer (pay us, let us run our ads, or don’t use our service, pick 1) and trying to shoehorn a 4th option that Spotify doesn’t offer: get the content w/o Spotify getting paid.

To tell Spotify “I’d use your service if you added an option where the ads didn’t give 3rd parties the ability to run JS on my system” is different from “I picked your current ad-supported option and then prevented the ads from running”.

Pandora and Google Play Music (and maybe Spotify too I don't know) put ads in the audio stream (and video, if you are looking at the app screen while listening to music for some reason).

Seems simpler to do this than get into a technical arms race with users.

They already do this, there are constant interruptions for 30-second audio ads. Currently, you can turn the audio down, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do something akin to the black mirror episode "fifteen million merits" where you have to look at/listen to the ads for them to go away.

The main gripe is using adsense which can still often be used to deliver malware.

I've paid for Spotify for a while, so its been some time since I've heard an ad. But from what I remember, if you put the volume below ~30%, the ad pauses.

Buy headphones with their own thumbwheel attenuator and/or mute button, or plug your corded headphones into an extension cord or dongle that has them.

Traditional broadcast radio gets zero feedback from most receivers. Spotify is already a step ahead of that by preventing users from avoiding ads just by changing the radio station, and I think that the clever tricks with the volume are really pushing it in terms of user hostility.

I pay to not get ads, so I'm not really motivated to explore avoiding them.

But if you try to advertise at me no matter what I do, or overestimate what I would pay, I will join in the arms race against your advertisers. I'll block the ads, and block the ad-blocker detectors, and block the ad-blocker-detector-blocker detectors. I'll crunch your cookies, and squash your pixel, and firewall your home-phoner.

Maybe I put a 30-minute buffering program on the audio stream that the music program is allowed to use, and tell that program to skip ahead during the ads. Maybe I also train another program to recognize the ads, and tell the first program exactly how far to skip ahead. Maybe I lock the music program in the matrix, and control all the data it tries to get from the system, to the point that it cannot ever say what reality truly is.

There's something to be said for just playing the ad audio without trying to ensure someone is listening, or identifying who it might be. After all, Spotify could be playing music to a cat in an otherwise empty house, with the mobile device quietly displaying "Now playing 'Meow Mix Theme - Metal Version' on device 'Bluetooth speaker'."

(If that song actually exists, I cannot attest to its quality, because I swear I thought I was making it up.)

The Tivo option: prerecord streams and strip out ads.

I will tell you why the VCR was different: TV shows didn’t play on demand, so you had a legitimate reason to record stuff.

Yeah it was black mirror style. You had to listen to the goddamn ad. I used to take off the earphones when the ad played.

It was an annoying enough experience. Although I mostly upgraded to paid option for the high bit rate audio. Music sounds so much crispier.

Making users pay for no ads may not be enough to nudge them over. Offering a premium pro is definitely a viable model.

Can't have it all for free. I've been a paying user for nearly 8 years. And I love it.

Payments to artists are based on total listens, not who is paying or who you listen to. So your money goes to the artists listened to by others :(

They are also shockingly bad with snooping on you and sharing data.

Ads that come from third parties are open to exploitation and not properly vetted, not to mention may be jarring to your experience.

I was a paying customer for a long time but i dont like basically anything about how they work. I quit after the privacy policy got repeatedly worse and given that i was paying more than it cost to just buy all the music i listened to (when taken over years assuming youtube is as good when you are just showing someone a song not listening for quality). And they were still insisting on spying on me and keeping the data, wanting to know as much as possible about what i was doing! Even though i was paying for the service :(

And to top it all the money was going to effectively top playing radio artists :( direct purchase of flacs from the artist FTW. If you are going to pay for a service make it dropbox or something else more agnostic / flexible.

> It was an annoying enough experience.

For me it was annoying enough to stop using spotify.

sometimes annoying UX can turn users away instead of leading the users to give them money.

They know the ads are annoying and can turn users away. So they nudge the users with one of those "hey, these ads suck don't they? pay us for an ad-free experience" during ad spots or in place of ad spots.

I don't think I've used another service that uses so many of their prime ad spots to try to advertise getting rid of ads.

This may also suggest that Spotify makes much much much less than $10/user/month on ads. So much less that they can afford not to show paid ads in an ad spot if it'll lead to more paying users. Which I'd agree. Or maybe supply and demand kicks in and they just up their ads pricing as a result of showing less ads. But I don't think the ad-buying market can bear increases in ad pricing, otherwise facebook could just up their ads pricing instead of destroying the newsfeed with so many ads, which hurts user retention.

They could get past that by quizzing you on the ad.

I've never had issues on Mac, Windows, or Linux with the operating system's mute stopping ad playback.

On a related note, Spotify's volume controls should never be touched, because no matter what you set the music volume to, ads will play at full volume. It's usually louder than the music anyway, but the damage to your ears can be minimized.

I haven't ever used spotify, so forgive my ignorance. How are they measuring the system volume from inside a webapp? Shouldn't that information not be visible to them?

It pauses it if you put the in-app volume too low. I think the desktop client also reacts to the system volume setting, but it's been a while since I had the free plan.

I have this issue with the NPR One web player on Windows7. When the laptop is muted and I press the physical button to unmute it, the mute light goes off, but the web player soft-mutes. Argh.

Why can’t the mute button just be a physical switch!?!?!?

You could try getting a 3.5mm stereo cable, cutting the end off and using that as your physical mute button. Not sure if that routes audio to the "headphones" at the software or firmware level, but anything reading volume levels would still see it set to whatever level the OS is at.

That was one of the annoyances that finally made me pay for the service. The other one was that they were constantly changing what the free plan allows you to do back then.

There are headphones where %30 volume would do some damage.

And if there's some kind of bug where the volume shoots up to max, you just go deaf?

Yeah, there are headphones like that. I have unfortunately owned a pair.

Yep, my headphones are only used with the lowest volume my phone allows, and I'd prefer them to be a little quieter.


If I'm not mistaken the audio ads still use ad servers, so if you're on a network where someone is running a PiHole or something similar, the ads will be blocked. So running Spotify on an another person's network could get your account suspended if they're blocking ads, I guess.

Hopefully Spotify doesn't ban my paid for account because I'm using an Android wide ad blocking solution.

are you using blokada ?

DNS66, same principle.

I suppose I have to whitelist Spotify ad servers. What a shit show.

Video stream. That's when I uninstalled Pandora.

They get my ears. At the volume I dictate.

If they exceed that threshold, then into the trash they go. Spotify is no better.

>Pandora and Google Play Music ... put ads in the audio stream

Why would you want to encourage Spotify to adopt this horrible practice? I don't WANT ads injected into the audio.

Then you can pay for the service

You misunderstand.

I'm fine with paying for the service and DO (Spotify Premium).

I also use other services on occasion and HATE when the audio is interrupted with ads.

Show visual ads all day long, that's fine. Audio ads just suck. Especially when they raise the volume threshold for commercials.

Oh, like cable, Amazon Prime video, etc... where you pay for the service and STILL get ads?

This is just the argument against piracy. And if anyone proved that convenience combats piracy, it's Spotify. If you ever find your users trying to circumvent part of your process in order to make their experience better, the proper response isn't "hold up now, your experience with our product wasn't supposed to be THAT good." It's on their business to figure out how to maximize their customer's satisfaction, while still remaining profitable. Or another service will come along and do it for you.

People who use their service and also block ads aren't their customers though. They have no incentive not to block them. Sure it'd be best to come up with an alternate revenue stream that's less annoying and equally or more profitable than ads but obviously no one has or they'd be using it successfully.

Thank you. Failures of your business model are not our problem.

The only people who can force me to pay is Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Everyone else can persuade me


Why steal mp3's when you can make copies for free?

I actually do pay spotify - I just object to the enforcement principle.

(And apple music and Amazon - I think I need to rationalise that one)

I think that the Apple / Amazon model is more appealing - pay us first or basically you get nothing.

I guess this is the early signs of the Freemium model falling apart.

I am not sure why you are accusing someone of a crime ("stealing").

Installing an ad blocker is within someone's full legal right.

Why are you making false statements regarding what is or is not a crime?

Okay, but your agreement with Spotify on the free tier is "we provide music, you agree to be subject to our ads." If you block the ads, they can then yank the music.

Personally, I haven't jumped on the streaming music thing (iTunes Match is about as close as it gets for me with buying CDs or MP3s to add to it in time), but I don't think what they're doing is a bad thing.

Now, if you have some means to force the various ad networks to prevent hijacking a device and then telling me congratulations for being an Amazon customer and some random item blinks on my screen, I'm all ears. But ads in and of themselves, I don't have a problem with.

>> your agreement with Spotify on the free tier is "we provide music, you agree to be subject to our ads." If you block the ads, they can then yank the music.

Companies have a habit of trying to squeeze all kinds of stuff into their ToS/AUP, hoping they can get away with it.

Who'd want to bet Spotify's bans would survive both a) the courts, and b) public opinion? Remember they'd need to win in both.

a) absolutely - they are not stopping you from doing whatever you want on your machine, they are just not allowing to use their service. I don't think anyone would advocate making "ad blocker" a protected characteristic alongside race, gender, sexuality etc

b) absolutely - most people either don't use ad blockers, and of those that do, most people are not militantly committed to them. There will be a set of people who stop using the service out of principle, but almost all of them weren't making any revenue for spotify anyway.

The only risk to spotify I can see is if they use somekind of nefarious method to detect ad-blockers (eg root kits) and I 1) don't think they're that stupid 2) don't think they would be necessary or useful anyway.

I guess another risk is if they force people to turn off ad blockers, then accidentally serve them malware, but afaik, various other sites have done this and nobody seems to care.

I would advocate for legal rights to use an adblocker! If we don’t, it’s going to be banned under CFAA in the future. Ads suck! Nobody has the right to force these on me!

No they don't. And I think that we have a right to block ads that to block any and all ads that we receive.

Conversely, any (non-critical) service has the right to stop showing us ads or serving us in any other way.

nobody has the "right" to use a service, conversely.

And why exactly is that considered a fact?

The closer you are to a monopoly, the more required you should be to serve all. We don't allow the electric company to kill your power because you made disparaging emails or bad messages online.

And if you're a monopoly, you should be dealt with heavy handedly. Because power and money only further power and money. Anti-competition laws stem that to an extent.

There are plenty of music streaming services at the same level of quality and within the ballpark of paid subscriber base as Spotify. It wouldn’t qualify as a monopoly.

Music streaming isn’t the kind of good that falls under common carrier so I don’t think the analogy of the electric company fits. People can easily go through life not subscribed to one. I for one only have iTunes Match which isn’t the all-you-can-eat style of Spotify/Apple Music/Play Music/Amazon Music/Tidal/etc.

You don’t have to listen to Spotify right?

Actually, it's "you agree to allow us to run code on your device with no ability to audit it or analyze it ahead of time for malware". If they want to "play" an ad, they certainly have the ability to do it.

On a related note, getting unapproved access described as "stealing" (or theft, or piracy, or...) didn't stop being a nasty rhetorical trick just because it became standard.

Creating another copy or playthrough of a song without permission doesn't have zero cost, fine, but the entire conversation is cheapened when people talk like it's the same thing as pocketing a cassette tape from a store.

If I took a copy of Stephen King's next book off his editor's computer and post it for free online before he sold a single copy, would it be a nasty rhetorical truck to call that stealing/theft/piracy...?

Totally different question, which is itself a nasty rhetorical trick - but also yes.

You switched the topic from receiving for personal use to distributing. Demand promotes supply, I'm not unaware, but that doesn't make them equivalent - unless we'd like to equate drugdealing with possession, and scalping with buying a secondhand concert ticket? You also escalated from 'distribution' like burning a CD for a friend to invading someone's computer and publicizing a nonpublic work. This is the same sort of dodge the RIAA has been using for years, pursuing downloads and uploads indifferently and targeting private, unpaid sharing with laws aimed at systematic, for-profit fraud.

But even ignoring every part of that, yes. It's still a rhetorical trick. Theft is, by legal, dictionary, and common-use definitions, an act that deprives the victim of the stolen property. Stealing King's manuscript off his editor's desk would be theft. Copying the book would be a lot of things, like a real CFAA violation, probably either B&E or wire fraud, and debatably trespass to chattels. Posting it online would prompt another list of crimes and civil suits relating to the potential monetary harm to King.

I'm not excusing all acts described as 'piracy' or 'theft'. I'm saying that the label actually matters, and the discussion is harmed by applying law and rhetoric about deprivation to an act of duplication.

Speaking of nasty rhetorical tricks, "personal use" is just a distribution at small scale.

It's just a rhetorical trick that pro-theft people (people who steal the hard earned labor of other people because of entitlement or, perhaps, just devotion to technical pedantry) use to justify their immoral behavior.

The creators of the content intended it to be available for purchase only and distributed it so that only those who pay could listen.

When you violate that intellectual property, you steal from them. You steal their labor, their time, their blood sweat and tears.

I'm always fascinated at the kind of evil it takes to justify this kind of stealing.

Just because they don't want you to have access to their labor doesn't mean you're entitled to it, no matter how many rhetorical tricks like "Personal Use" you use.

That's different. You'd be copying data off a personal computer that isn't publically accessible. Piracy usually involves a third party purposefully giving you access to the data.

It is and it's also within your rights not to use the service, or pay for it. Why should you be allowed to use a service in a way they don't intend you to use it?

> Why should you be allowed to use a service in a way they don't intend you to use it?

The Free Software movement has been fighting against this exact mentality for decades. Digital autonomy should be a basic human right. Anyone should be able to download and execute whatever code they want on their own computer.

Spotify also has this right, of course, and is free to block users if they choose. I am not morally obliged to support their business model. At the same time, I choose to have a paid Spotify account because it's more convenient.

That's the free software movement, not the free music movement Although the latter may actually be the more venerable body.

I'm talking about the Free Software movement. I have a moral right to use ad-blocking technology, or any other software on my own computer.

Spotify can refuse me service if they have a problem with this (no free music), but they can't make me feel guilty for blocking ads.

If you're running the Spotify client, you're using their computer, too, not just your own. You have the right to kick them off of your PC or phone, and they have the right to kick you off of their server. What's the problem with that?

No problem at all. Spotify has every right to do this.

The original comment seems to argue that ad-blockers are morally wrong, which I disagree with. Ad-blockers are a morally neutral technology, even if they hurt some company's bottom line. Companies that dislike this reality can deploy technical countermeasures, like Spotify is doing.

Why? Because it is within my full legal right to do so.

If you don't like it, then go change the law.

My experience with people, and your quick accusation, lead me to believe that you are a grifter.

Do you say that when you shoplift too?

that's very clearly not what i meant :-)

please see "end of freemium" comment

If someone opens a shop and invites me to walk around, browse and chat, then that's nice - maybe i will buy.

but saying "now you must pay an entrance fee because you are wearing earphones - we want customers to listen to our trained shop staff" is kind of defeating the point.

yes they can set up weird rules for their shop, but it's dishonest to change the game now, and frankly counter productive

> yes they can set up weird rules for their shop, but it's dishonest to change the game now, and frankly counter productive

You agree to their terms before entering the shop. Everyone understands and knows this. Pretending you don't know their terms is willful ignorance. The moral issues here have been settled in law for centuries now. The only thing that actually changed is technical capability.

A much better analogy is this: You walk into a music store, and there is a sign that says "Please do not play the instruments". The shop owner walks out of the store, and you start playing the guitars because "they're not here to enforce it, so the rule doesn't apply".

I've never used this phrase in my entire life but it seems absolutely perfect for the described scenario. Sorry not sorry.

I personally chose not to use Spotify at all, but I'm not going to fault anyone for using it with a thrid-party blocker. Even if Spotify didn't also do advertising the right way (e.g. branded playlists (I believe paying users get those too)), no one is obligated to subject themselves to personal harm, even if someone is dumb enough to expose people to that risk as a subsidy for their service, no matter how useful the service is.

If you don't want to "subject yourself to personal harm" you can either not use the service or pay for the ad-free service.

You don't have a right to use Spotify how you want.

It's an online service, not a piece of personal property.

I believe I have the right to choose whenever possible which resources my computer downloads and what code my computer executes. That includes selecting which parts of a specific website or application I download and execute.

If Spotify wants to refuse to fulfill requests for one resource (e.g. songs) separate from requests for another resource (e.g. ads), I have absolutely no problem with that. But if Spotify chooses (as appears to be the case, at least before this account suspension policy) to fulfill both requests independent of one another, I believe I have the right to make either request, both requests, or neither request.

In other words, I have absolutely no qualms with users using ad blocking software, just like I have no problem with users using firewalls, antivirus software, or content restriction software. And I also have no problem with Spotify attempting to prevent this activity, either by making ad blocking technically infeasible (radio figured this out over 100 years ago), or by suspending accounts that violate their terms (especially free accounts, since the customer would have no case that Spotify owes them a refund or compensation).

You get married.

The agreement between you and your significant other is that both parties will be faithful and to perform various duties within the relationship. Also, if the marriage is ended, both parties leave with their individual things/pay/etc.

You decide to play the field. Your significant other decides to leave you and you are now responsible for the tasks/financials that your significant other previously assisted with.

In agreements, you can't pick and choose the terms of the agreement you're willing to subject yourself to once they're settled (beyond renegotiating). In the Spotify case, they literally get nothing out of the arrangement if someone blocks their ads on the free tier whereas the person blocking said ads would be of the belief they're owed limitless listening to free music? That's pretty comical.

>once they're settled...

Should I be expected to monitor changes to a living document that I never read in the first place in order to know whether the current version means I am married to Spotify and act accordingly?

Spotify is the one who defaulted first by not providing me the limitless free music I am owed.

If the terms change, they contact you that they changed. At that point, yeah, you’re bound by new terms if you continue using the service. That’s kind of been the way things have been since the advent of Internet services in general.

I’m curious how you’re certain they defaulted first when you state that you never read the document in the first place.

>I’m curious how you’re certain they defaulted.

I'm sorry that was sarcasm. I didn't make any assumptions I just clicked the box or button or whatever.

Do they contact you? Most terms of service just say 'revisit here constantly in case we changed something'

I used Spotify during a Sprint promo (when they were my carrier way back when). At one point, I received an email stating that an update to the terms was made. I imagine they still do this, but I guess they could just as easily have stopped, not certain.

A lot of services that I’ve signed up with will announce new terms either via email (quick search of my email lists the most recent ones as Papa Johns, PlayStation, Disney Movie Rewards, Skype, Gamestop) or on next launch of app (Blizzard and Steam being prominent ones off the top of my head). I don’t know many that announce they will in advance though (ie at sign up saying they’ll communicate changes to you), so probably better to be proactive than reactive? I don’t know.

>> Also, if the marriage is ended, both parties leave with their individual things/pay/etc...

Q: Would Spotify refund users that they ban?

Sure they would. The $0 the user spent on the service.

Refund them what? They're not paying anything.

Can you point to the part of the Spotify ToC, where you agree not to block ads? I haven't been able to find anything about it.

You agree that they can serve them to you. Blocking them kind of stops that, yeah?

8 Rights you grant us

In consideration for the rights granted to you under the Agreements, you grant us the right (1) to allow the Spotify Service to use the processor, bandwidth, and storage hardware on your Device in order to facilitate the operation of the Service, (2) to provide advertising and other information to you, and (3) to allow our business partners to do the same. In any part of the Spotify Service, the Content you access, including its selection and placement, may be influenced by commercial considerations, including Spotify’s agreements with third parties. Some Content licensed by, provided to, created by or otherwise made available by Spotify (e.g. podcasts) may contain advertising as part of the Content. The Spotify Service makes such Content available to you unmodified.

Granting Spotify rights means that the user allow them to show them ads. It's in there to protect Spotify. A user agrees not to sue them, if Spotify put ads on their phone.

It has nothing to do with whatever the user does to avoid being exposed to those ads.

That’s a very interesting take. What prior legal action justifies it?

This seems more akin to cable services here. For all intents and purposes, all of the channels they provide are served to the home, but they then restrict based off the package you’re paying for. In Spotify’s case instead of restricting (unless they have premium only channels/content), they’re adding advertisements. To block the ads is analogous to using a method to remove the restriction on channels you can access, and the typical remedy is to terminate the service to that customer and/or seeking civil remedies.

I don't know if that's an interesting take. That's what it means. I'm unaware if there's any prior legal actions but terms are written not only for any prior legal actions but also for any possible legal actions.

An analogy to cable services would be if you had something installed on your TV that automatically switched channel or put on a cat youtube video, when the commercials are on on and switched back when the commercials were done.

Your example would be an analogy to having a script on Spotify which gave you access to some premium music library that only paying customers should have access to.

Okay, how about this: it’d be like granting an entity (Spotify) the ability to put signs (advertisements) in your yard (browser window), and then when they go to do so, you prevent them from entering your yard (browser window).

If it isn’t against the agreement directly, it certainly is against the spirit of it. And that holds a lot of weight. Because what is the point of being able to show you advertisements if you’re going to block them from even rendering?

I get it. I don’t like ads either. Well, I’m generally fine if they make some degree of sense (none of the odd ones where it has a picture of an onion partially covered by a sock or something) or don’t hijack the browser (massive redirect that eats back history and presents me with some “congratulations, click here” thing). But if I don’t like the ads, I’m free to either pay for Spotify without advertisements or not use Spotify at all. No one is holding a gun to my head that I must have them (and I don’t after a promo period with Sprint) and they do have to pay licensing for that music (to include some kind of fee per x streams of given songs to ASCAP or whatever). That doesn’t even factor in the infrastructure requirements on their end. So why would anyone expect this to be totally free to a user?

Section 9.10

> circumventing or blocking advertisements in the Spotify Service, or creating or distributing tools designed to block advertisements in the Spotify Service

This is not included in the terms I see (it redirects to specific terms for my country https://www.spotify.com/dk/legal/end-user-agreement/#s9)

However if I change the country id to "us" I get the same version as you, and I can see this new section 9.10.

If I google the new text, I find articles from yesterday about Spotify changing their terms in order to ban users using adblockers. So it appears that up until now, users has not had any agreement with Spotify that they will not block or circumvent ads.

I guess they are changing them incrementally. The terms changed for the UK last week (there seemingly was little interest from anyone). Unless there's something special in Danish law I'd expect yours to be updated soon.

Maybe not spelled out as such, but in section 8 under rights a user provides to Spotify, the ability to serve ads to you is there.

At least in the US terms. No idea for other countries.

See my other other answer about that. It's not relevant in this context.

> You don't have a right to use Spotify how you want.

Of course they have that right. Spotify has no right to restrict how anyone uses their service.

In fact they do have the right to restrict how people use their service.

They're about to trivially prove that exact point by terminating accounts that use ad blockers.

Ability != right

They have both.

But I still have right to NOT use service provided by Spotify or and another third-party service, completely or partially.

You do NOT have a right to use the service "partially" (by blocking ads), as blocking ads on their free plan is against the ToS.

ToS's (online, at least) aren't legally enforceable. If they were actually legally binding companies would be sueing users for violating them all the time. Theres a reason the extent of ToS enforcement is just account closure, its because they have no legal standing and just act as a safeguard against actual legal challenges.

My only point is that you don't have a "right" to use the service. The ToS not being legally enforceable does not change that fact. Spotify can kick you off for violating their terms, but they can also kick you off for whatever they want.

Being barred from the service is not some sort of injustice or violation of your rights, especially after breaking the terms.

The people in this thread claiming they can do whatever they want and block ads is true. That does not give them some sort of moral high ground, just because they can.

You would be absolutely incorrect. I've received scores of C&D's over the years, which I've always complied with, and seen several people get sued and lose with penalties being both criminal and financial.

I would say it's unlikely that Spotify would even send a C&D to an adblocking user, but the folks that make their own apps to bypass the advertising or rip the streams are at legal risk.

The legal enforceability of the TOS isn't really important here, when you use a service there are conditions with that service. Go ahead and try walking into starbucks, paying for half of a tall americano and walking out the door with half of a tall americano. Service providers have the inherent right to place conditions and limits on the services they provide.

>Go ahead and try walking into starbucks, paying for half of a tall americano and walking out the door with half of a tall americano.

I have watched people do exactly this as well as many variations on this theme...at Starbucks.

Did they succeed? I've seen a man with mental health issues walk in an order a coffee normally, paying money for the coffee, then start ranting while waiting for it to be made and end up being led off by the police because he was getting uncomfortably aggressive. There are conditions for service outside of the absolutely obvious ones.

Yeah...I dunno maybe the baristas are more accomodating at the one I go to but they're usually pretty happy to make things like that and charge less for it.

If you look at starbuck's prices you'll see some drink x being sold as a Venti - 5$, Grande - 4.25$, Tall - 4$, for a while this really annoyed my brain since a Venti is 2x a Tall (or so) so the low price difference makes it silly not to just get a Venti half as often. In actuality the price of what you're buying is contributed to very minorly by the ingredients and much more by the labour and that 4$ might be as close to the floor as starbucks is willing to go. That's a bit interesting and different...

Additionally, good on your baristas for being flexible, though the corporate office might object and come down on them if they found they were offering this, as they're either losing money or making less money serving you then they'd make if they served a different customer - so the time to make your drink would be particularly economically suboptimal.

Anyways, these are mostly fiddly points and my original comment was less about the fact that businesses always did things like this... and more about the fact that they do have the right to refuse. If you go in one day and a different barista is behind the machine, they may refuse your request and so it goes - alternatively maybe your usual barista got a talking to from management and can't do it any more. Either of these cases work, declining partial service is an option for a business... in fact, declining normal service is also usually an option, maybe you're going to a ramen place that's open until 7 and arrive well before, but the owner has a headache and is closing up at 5:30 when you walk in - you're not _owed_ service.

The only exception to this is cases where people have historically been terrible and the government has specifically stepped in, if you were black and starbucks refused to serve you after serving a white customer and before serving another white customer then the onus would be on them to rationalize why they refused service (and they'd probably end up paying a hefty fine or being targeted by a lawsuit).

Oh I agree with that. I was just pointing out the example itself doesn't work so well. I do understand that it's not necessarily store policy, but comes down to the choices of specific employees. This is why i think it's a poor example. With spotify you'll never have a situation where an individual employee can make the decision to allow someone to say use an adblocker or something.

In a lot of ways you can't really compare it to real world examples, because even within corporate chains individual employees can just say fuck it and choose to give the customer a discount or a custom order or allow something they shouldn't.

With an online business like Spotify that utilizes algorithms and automatic actions, this is unlikely to ever happen.

Having worked in a few customer service jobs, or hell even now where I work now, you'd be surprised what customers think they're owed vs what they actually are and how often they do end up getting their way.

In some ways maybe it's because of this people take this mentality onto the web and expect to be able to do the same things.

The real world usually ends up being a lot more grey than the black and white of the legalese and terms and conditions of the internet.

Sales have very specific laws. When you buy a coffee you are entering in a contract.

Walking in a Starbucks and using the free WiFi without buying anything is a better example.

Right, and Starbucks should feel perfectly at ease kicking you out for that, just as Spotify plans to do.

(actually Starbucks does not feel at ease doing that after the whole two men / racism fiasco, but they should feel justified in doing that).

Oh, I agree they can kick you out. But getting a coffee and walking away is very different from using the WiFi and walking away.

Not really, you're using a service, the cost of that service may be incidental but the classic superman/office space bank hack of diverting all the partial cents on interest to a separate account isn't legal just because each action is so small... It is different because it'd probably be silly to enforce that everyone using their wifi has paid for a drink, but there isn't a distinction there ethically or legally... Unless you think that wifi should be a free social benefit for everyone everywhere - but that particular wifi is being provided by starbucks for a cost to them.

I just think it would be very hard to legally argue that there is any implied contract that you must buy a coffee to use the WiFi. But then again, IANAL.

There is a literal contract for Sbux wifi. You need to agree to a ToS when you join the wifi network. That ToS includes "you must be a starbucks customer".

Obviously what a "customer" entails is up for legal debate, but it generally does not include people who purchase nothing from Sbux.

IMHO, the more correct analogy will be to walk into cinema and watch cinema without paying for pop-corn, despite the fact that theater makes most of their profit on pop-corn.

I have no obligation to make a business profitable.

If the ticket price was bumped up by $20 and popcorn was included free you might rationally object to the fact that you didn't want their overpriced air anyways, but it doesn't mean you'd have any inherent right to utilize the service at the old cost - competition might fix that problem (a new theatre with slightly more expensive tickets than the old one originally offered, but far cheaper than the new tickets to movie + popcorn) or regulation might (especially if movie theatres don't scale well (and they don't, a mall with 20 movie theatres isn't going to be rolling in money)).

Customers who use too many company resources or hurt the bottom line get dropped. Like when a suspected card counter is banned from a casino. That's just what's happening here.

>> I have no obligation to make a business profitable.

Do we have an obligation to allow script in our browsers? >90% of my "news reading" on the internet is done with NoScript running; from my point of view it's all good, no ads, no GDPR pop-ups, pages load quickly, fewer worries about tracking.

It's probably not what publishers want, though.

That's where the question gets interesting! Your browser definitely (under current laws) has the right to refuse to allow NoScript to run, so if a similar program specifically targeted google ads then chrome would not be obligated to support it and could use the laws around your legal right (and lack thereof) to proprietary modify software to order you to cease & desist running it.

I think that websites do, legally, have the right to refuse you service if you run NoScript and some websites go through crazy hoop to exercise that right. I _suspect_ that using NoScript to alter the page is actually illegal under current intent since that usage could cause the software to misperform and potentially cause damages and it violates the agreed upon usage contract on that site. That said, it's _mostly_ unenforceable on a technical level (usually it's at least not cost effective to do) and I personally think it's unethical to force people to run malware to view your content - it needs a clearer definition in the law though, all this stuff is stupid hazy.

>> I _suspect_ that using NoScript to alter the page is actually illegal under current intent ...

Yet some would say the pages get altered by the scripts that stuff in the awful ads

In any case, you don't need an add-in to disable scripting. Hell, use curl to fetch the damned page. That's about as "pure" a way of fetching one as you can get.

The day they rule that curl is illegally blocking ads is the day I become a monk.

I interact a lot with ads on eBay and similar sites. I even subscribe to them! Moreover, I also like ads at Facebook news feed, because they are relevant and delivered at time. I unlike but click sometimes at ads in Google. Everything else is banned with NoScript.

IMHO, ad-driven business model is OK, but implementation matters. If site will _serve_ me with ads, I will use it. If site will try to abuse me with ads, then I will try to shield me from this abuse.

I have ideas how to solve Spotify problems, but it looks like Spotify employee are downvoting opponent comments to death, so they will have my f*ck instead of hint.

Spotify does NOT have the right to run arbitrary code on my device. That is not something that fits into the category of me using their service. That rather fits into the category of me being forced to provide a service to Spotify.

Spotify isn't reaching into your computer and running ads, you are running Spotify. If you don't want Spotify and its dependencies, you can simply not run Spotify.

The ads weren't a dependency, and technically speaking, still aren't.

They could force them to be. And socially, are. But, they're not technically.

I'm not sure why a "technical" dependency matters. A shirt at a shopping mall doesn't "technically" need a security tag, but it's not my prerogative to remove it.

How is blocking ads with software different from turning down the volume during commercials?

Also, nobody can be forced to listen to something.

There isn't a difference, except that Spotify can drop you as a customer. Which is what they're doing. Which is fine.

The debate in this thread is not "what can you technically do?", but rather "who has the moral high ground?"

It is my private property (my screen). I absolutely do have the right to use it partially if Spotify is emitting it freely. Their terms of service have utterly no relevance to what I disallow to be shown on my private property.

Ok so they'll ban you and then... what? You'll have no recourse, i.e., you have no inherent right to use their service as you see fit (outside your own head anyway).

I’ll use technology to legally circumvent the ban, as has been happening since the dawn of the fool’s errand that is DRM or free channel restriction.

He has all the right to, that's why he's not in prison.

Spotify gets to dictate who gets to use their product though.

> If you don't want to "subject yourself to personal harm" you can either not use the service or pay for the ad-free service.

OR, he could install an ad blocker. It is completely legal to use ad blockers. Thats the law. If you don't like the law, then go change it.

At the same same time you are stealing a service if you don’t accept either of their revenue proposals when taking advantage of it. If you don’t want ads, then you need to pay in some form. Spotify is not a charity.

It's not stealing or violating any law (as far as I know, and if there is a law against it, I vehemently oppose the law). It's no different than muting radio commercials or recording live TV and fast-forwarding through the commercials. I'm not responsible for Spotify's business model or tech stack.

If Spotify wants to deliver free music bundled with advertisements, it's on them to implement that bundling correctly. If their implementation is two endpoints, one that returns music and another that returns ads, and they just politely suggest that everyone who uses the first endpoint also uses the second, I am in no way obligated to follow their suggestion.

Spotify is free to implement a less laughable implementation of ad bundling, and they're free to block my free account if they don't like my behavior, but I will always oppose any claim that I am obligated to make a request to endpoint B (and execute the code it returns!!!) if I make a request to endpoint A.

For clarity, the "I" in the above paragraphs is hypothetical. I don't use Spotify, but I do pay for Apple Music (not because I feel like I owe them, but because I like the service and think it is worth the price).

What is so special about network requests that should be an exception here? If you sign a lease for an apartment that requires you to get liability insurance from a separate provider of your choice, do you also think you have every moral right to not purchase such insurance because it's a different "endpoint"?

What is special in this case is that the first request's payload contains the address of the second request.

It would be like not knowing what insurance company you will have to use until you walk into your apartment for the first time.

Isn’t the penalty for not getting the liability insurance that you get evicted? I don’t think there are criminal charges or damages that would be rewarded. So that’s just the same as Spotify suspending your account.

It's no stealing, it's not even lying. Show me where in the agreement it says exactly "you must to listen to ads from a third-party if you listen to music". There are things like "we retain the right to...", or "by using this service, you agree to allow us to...". There are no commandments, only stuff that covers their ass so you can't sue them for closing your account, exposing your personal information or letting other people hack your devices.

I'm frankly surprised at the level of entitlement that you and others are operating under.

Section 8 and 9 of the Spotify T&C is what you are looking for, btw.

Stealing is taking property with the intention of permanently depriving the rightful owner of said property.

One cannot steal data by not watching ads because you can't deprive the owner of said data. Misusing a word to evoke an emotional response is intellectually dishonest and manipulative. Entitled is another overused manipulative term.

I am in fact entitled to decide what runs on my computer and spotify is entitled to decide who accesses theirs. If spotify closes accounts for not watching ads and I choose to block ads literally nobody is in the wrong. We are both exercising our respective rights.

At that point it becomes a discussion on what is prudent.

If you arne't in the habit of reading 5-10 pages of legalese when you walk into random stores I wonder why you believe people will read 5-10 pages of legalese before reading the dozens of sites they visit. People care about the terms and conditions exactly when they are informed of being in breach of them and only to the extent that being in breach of them effects their life.

In this case it seems incredibly likely that said users who aren't customers in the first place even if some of them watch ads will just watch free music on youtube.

On net spotify will save money on bandwidth which is incredibly cheap to start with, gain a modicum of new subscribers, and shrink their supply of free users that are their primary source of paid users.

Presumably they are in the best position to figure out if this is worth it and we shall all see.

> Stealing is taking property with the intention of permanently depriving the rightful owner of said property. > One cannot steal data by not watching ads because you can't deprive the owner of said data.

Well, it is. Spotify grants you the temporary license to play the copyrighted song for you listening to their ads. They _pay_ for the right to distribute that song. It's like taking something from a store and refusing to pay for it because "that store does not decide where my money goes".

> I am in fact entitled to decide what runs on my computer and spotify is entitled to decide who accesses theirs. If spotify closes accounts for not watching ads and I choose to block ads literally nobody is in the wrong. We are both exercising our respective rights.

Fully agreed.

> On net spotify will save money on bandwidth which is incredibly cheap to start with, gain a modicum of new subscribers, and shrink their supply of free users that are their primary source of paid users.

Well, as said above, they pay licensing fees and that is actually most of their business cost. I highly doubt that they loose many customers who would bring in any money with this move.

Stealing is a term of art for the legal arena. Just like a million idiots who call their entire tower a cpu doesn't serve to redefine a technical term you "feeling" like not watching ads is stealing food from your mouth doesn't mean that it is.

There are a number of pieces of actual property involved but the user isn't carting off Spotify's servers and spotify isn't breaking into the users home and stealing their laptops.

What you do want to cart of is the users autonomy to manage how their actual property is used in service to an imaginary moral duty to be brainwashed by propoganda based on terms and conditions that we don't agree are a moral obligation.

You have a moral right to the actual money your users have agreed to pay you if you provide the agreed upon service.

The fact that you actually believe that you can buy their thoughts, their autonomy, their attention, and their time with your cheap crap doesn't mean if they opt not to give you those things you have been stolen from because those things were never for sale and you can't own them.

The best you can do is not do business if you feel like the deal isn't mutually beneficial. Take your ball and go home if you like but don't be dumb enough to call your users thieves for claiming unalienable rights to their own brains and machines.

Well, stealing is be defined as[0]:

> a: to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully

Using Spotify without paying them, either directly or by watching ads, falls under that definition. The fact that there is no actual object being taken does not impact this.

If you create a great piece of software and I copy and then sell it, would you not consider it stealing? After all, you still have your copy.

Or, if a client contracts you to configure his network and then refuses to pay, is that not stealing your work? After all, you just used knowledge and time. Nothing stolen here, you still have your knowledge and you can surely make a copy of the configuration files :)

> The fact that you actually believe that you can buy their thoughts, their autonomy, their attention, and their time with your cheap crap doesn't mean if they opt not to give you those things you have been stolen from because those things were never for sale and you can't own them.

I don't believe you can buy their thoughts and I don't think Spotify attempts to. But you can definitely buy their time. That's exactly what you sell when you're employed.

> The best you can do is not do business if you feel like the deal isn't mutually beneficial. Take your ball and go home if you like but don't be dumb enough to call your users thieves for claiming unalienable rights to their own brains and machines.

Again, I totally agree. I would not use Spotify with Ads either. But if I'm not willing to fulfill my side of the deal, be it paying with time or money, I'm in no way entitled to their service.

[0] From: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steal

"But you can definitely buy their time. That's exactly what you sell when you're employed."

The relationship you have with your employees is the inverse of the relationship you have with your users. I think you don't understand the idea of entitlement anymore than stealing.

They aren't entitled to spotify if spotify doesn't want to do business with them but they are entitled to have a negative opinion about spotify and or spotify's actions.

The fact that an increasing share of spotify's users neither want to pay them or watch their ads is a failure on Spotify's part to capture those potential users and reliance on a business model that is fundamentally stupid.

The fact that ad supported multimedia worked for so long is not an indication of future longevity. Horses were a great method of transportation for longer.

Ip infringement is indeed not stealing it is its own separate issue more akin to breach of contract than theft.

Intellectual property is virtually nothing like property.

Section 8 grants Spotify and their business partners the right to provide advertising and other information to you. That's you granting them rights should they succeed in doing so, not you guaranteeing the ability to do it.

Section 9, item 5 only mentions "circumventing or blocking advertisements in the Spotify Service". Nothing about "third party" ads, when "third party" is explicitly mentioned in other rules, separate from "the Spotify Service". If they legally can, I'm sure they'll "fix" that wording, at which point using a typical ad blocker with become lying, but still definitely not stealing. That rule is redundant anyway as it would required circumventing DRM, already illegal.

I guess there are plenty of "commandments" there, but they're all for show as they're either already illegal or fall under the fact that Spotify can deactivate your account whenever they want, even for reasons not listed there.

It only allows them to TRY to provide ads to me, according to particular web requests, etc. It does not mean I am compelled to allow it to be displayed on the screen I own, regardless of whether I consuming from the free content stream they decided to emit.

I could cut out a small rectangle of construction paper and create a robot with a computer vision apparatus, and have it follow me around, constantly check if an ad is visible on the screen, and dynamically block my field of vision to ensure I don’t see it.

Or I could miniaturize that whole thing and place it as a browser plugin or mobile app.

I’m frankly surprised you believe terms of service regarding a data stream that a company chooses to freely emit are in any way related whatsoever to a person’s right to restrict what is displayed on a physical device that they own.

My screen is not Spotify’s property. They are allowed to TRY to display something on it, and it will only be displayed IF I LET THEM. There’s no discussion here.

>My screen is not Spotify’s property. They are allowed to TRY to display something on it, and it will only be displayed IF I LET THEM. There’s no discussion here

And they will only send you that stream IF YOU LET THEM (display ads). That's the deal whether or not you like it. You don't get to substitute your own.

So, they win, you lose.

The user wins in that they retain control of their device which is slightly more significant than the ability to listen to some tunes.

...ok so then we're back at "you do not have the right to use the service in any way you like."

Glad we agree.

Nobody is “using the service in any way you like” at all. Preventing some certain pixels for being allowed to be displayed on a piece of my personal property has no connection, legal or otherwise, to usage of some freely emitted data stream someone else decided to send out freely to the world.

The person who sends it out to the world might write some things down or complain about what they want to control on my personal property, but it is just not relevant to anything. They are free to stop producing a freely available data stream if they don’t want to. Just like I am free to keep blocking certain infos they try to send me (ads).

We emphatically don't agree. I believe the user and spotify have the right to do whatever they like with their property. Spotify having the right to discontinue doing business doesn't indicate that the user didn't have the right to control their own property in the first place.

No I will just legally circumvent to control what is displayed on my property.

I believe it's safe to assume that (1) You sell a product or service for which people pay you, or (2) You derive an income working for someone else that sells a product or service for which people pay, or that (3) You receive financial support from someone who is within one of the above.

What happens to the food on your table when people take that product or service without giving you money for it?

> What happens to the food on your table when people take that product or service without giving you money for it?

Such business is not sustainable. It will shutdown and will free taken resources back into the economy.

Maybe Spotify and others could offer an option to serve untargeted ads, but hide it away under heaps of menus and technical jargon such that only the 0.1% of their users who are obsessed with this topic will bother with it

> To tell Spotify “I’d use your service if you added an option where the ads didn’t give 3rd parties the ability to run JS on my system” is different from “I picked your current ad-supported option and then prevented the ads from running”.

Is it really, when the solution I'm using to prevent ads from running is blocking a handful of 3rd party domains in my hosts file? I haven't taken away Spotify's capacity to run ads on my machine, only the 3rd party's capacity. Spotify could even test whether I'm interested in blocking first party ads by running their Spotify Premium ads this way.

On the whole, it seems like a more effective way to communicate blocking ads seems like a more effective way to communicate my distaste than abstaining from use of the service and contacting them (how?) to let them know I would use the service if get served ads directly. This way, they know exactly how much I use the service. That way, who's to say whether I'd actually use the service if they changed their ad serving model the way I say?

Spotify telling us, "you have to let us run unvetted third party software on your device to listen to music for free" is completely different from, "here is an ad-supported music streaming option."

It is within someone's full legal right to use an ad blocker.

Yep! Just like it's within Spotify's full legal right to ban you for using an ad-blocker.

Sure, but can they legally spy on me or search my computer to try and figure out if I am blocking ads?

They don't have to search your computer to figure that out in most adblocking implementations. If you're blocking the ad's network request but listening to the music, they can detect that server-side. If you're muting your volume while the ad is playing, they can detect that in the client with simple volume APIs.

You know people can just create another account, right?

Also, they can do other things, such as starting a consumer revolt against Spotify, and by giving them bad publicity, that may cause paying users to remember about their unused account and cancel it.

Bad publicity costs companies a lot of money.

I don't know about other users, but I'm not canceling my Spotify account to stand in solidarity with the freeloaders. Ad blocking users are a net negative to Spotify, why shouldn't they ban them?

Ad blocking users are a net negative to Spotify, why shouldn't they ban them?

It's not unthinkable that ad blocking users are keeping money and attention away from Spotify's competitors, spreading enthusiasm about Spotify to more people who will become paying customers, and giving Spotify more ears and more user information to inform their decisions.

Ad blocking users cost, but only as much as a low-bitrate audio stream - and that should get cheaper every year. At some point, will it cross so they're not net-negatives?

The hard thing for platforms is that no one trusts the platform to not lie about delivery metrics. Thus the need for advertisers to run code to verify it ran and run alternative networks. No idea why advertisers trust the ad networks over say spotify. This was going the otherway then facebook's massive lies about video ad views tanked it.

Other services like twitch have done what you said and users are equally irate about ads they can't skip and are completely embedded.

Basically it sucks for all parties involved. But at the end of the day you have to monetize or die.

Also I feel a lot of users are voting that 2 coffees a month is too much for music. I'm an old so... but for most of my life music just came out of a box for free. Sure I didn't have much control over it. But when I use spotify I just or pandora or amazon I tend to just get a genre based station going and just let it roll. Just like radio. I don't have time to be futzing around with optimizing playlists and that, I literally just don't care about music very much. Hell one of my friends, when he wants to concentrate, just puts the same song on repeat all day long (8+ hours).

That used to cost: cost free, price of tape/cd ($16 / year way over priced), free(napster,piracy), free with ads (pandora)...

Hell I can't even stomach paying $12 / month to xm when I'm going to drive cross country with no coverage.

> The hard thing for platforms is that no one trusts the platform to not lie about delivery metrics. Thus the need for advertisers to run code to verify it ran and run alternative networks.

None of that is my problem as a user though. I'm not obligated to expose myself to malware so that Coca-Cola can accurately track how many people saw their ad.

You're not obligated. You don't have to use the service, or you can pay for the ad-free version.

Within current legal standards you are. Ideally the government is supposed to step in and regulate situations like these to remove bad actors and provide consumer protections, since in a monopoly/oligopoly consumers can be forced to go without a service to comply with onerous conditions for that service and the music industry loves their monopolies.

A website is currently absolutely within their rights to decline you service if you refuse to be tracked by Coca-Cola's spyware ridden malware. This is a consequence of living in a society dominated by false cries to adhere to incorrectly stated libertarian ideals - regulation isn't all bad, though anti-competitive regulation tends to be bad (there is a grey area with incidentally introducing barriers to market entries to fulfill a social need... like everything - it's complicated).

This is what is frustrating. I will agree that users are subject to civil law, but that is not a moral claim. I am seeing so many people on HN taking a strong, rebuking moral stance on a civil matter. They hand wave the morality of Spotify allowing RCE by third-parties but feel indignant for a person breaking a fucking TOS or EULA.

> They hand wave the morality of Spotify allowing RCE by third-parties but feel indignant for a person breaking a fucking TOS or EULA.

If Spotify wants to suspend accounts for using adblockers, fine. I don't actually object. But I'm seriously disturbed by the number of comments here which equate using adblocked Spotify with 'stealing music' or otherwise imply that ToS violations are criminal acts. This sort of framing, by people who ought to know better, is why tech companies are still showing up in court pretending ToS violations are felonies under the CFAA. (And, thankfully, getting slapped down by increasingly-annoyed judges who understand the distinction.)

Creating a new copy of something is not the same as stealing the original, blocking ads is not the same as obtaining unauthorized access, security precautions aren't interchangeable with other approaches to adblocking, and violating a EULA is a civil matter.

Also frustrating is being hit by a wave of down votes for even tangentially mentioning libretarianism in a negative light, there is a lot of appeal to libretarianism similar to socialism, and every other governmental or economic approach, refusing to discuss the pros and cons just further cements the partisan divide.

Just to be clear, libretarianism is not incompatible with regulation - I happen to think that a certain amount of regulation and government oversight is required to allow things to function, I am an optimist about human behavior, but the ideal anarchist world with no laws is absolutely unsustainable, IMO. So my barb (and it wasn't even a sharp one) was more about the false painting of libretarianism being incompatible with government regulation and the talking points that ensue, then any desire to allow a focus on individual freedoms.

For whatever it's worth, I think there's a difference between mentioning libertarianism in a negative light and holding it responsible for society's ills. I think libertarianism is worth debating, and the political Libertarianism practiced in America is often ridiculous and utterly biased against individuals. But I don't think that being refused access to a service if you reject risky and unethical advertising practices is a consequence of misinterpreted libertarian theory.

The highest-profile appeals to corporate interests are made by politicians who don't claim libertarian ideal. The ability to cut consumers off from non-essential, non-monopoly services for terms violations is standard throughout countries without any libertarian tradition, so the exotic element in the US is the legal protection for spyware creators and malware distributors, neither of which stem from libertarian theory. The spyware aspect is about the lack of a direct constitutional privacy protection, and the conservative/literalist readings which have steadily eroded the penumbra reasoning. The malware aspect is the result of repeated failures to hold companies responsible for allowing data breaches or serving exploits, which owes more to special interests pandering and gross technical ignorance among legislators than to even a pretense of libertarianism.

You're right to say that cutting off service access is legal, and you're right to say that the most influential form of libertarianism in the US is twisted and often counterproductive. But I suspect I'm not alone in finding the attribution of any business-related badness to libertarianism tiring and a bad basis for a productive conversation.

I agree, yes. Maybe it's a sort of corporate motive that takes hold in each of our countries and in the US it's become infective within the libretarian section. I could just as easily see a twisting of a socialist angled view being twisted in the same way, "Our advertising supports our service in a necessary manner and it'd be unconscionable to deprive any resident the access to our service."

As an aside, isn't it amusing that getting an American education one of the skills that seems to be valued above others is the ability to twist words to whatever B.S. you need them to mean at the time, it's like everyone in the US is an expert marketer and political fixer/spin-man.

I think you're dead-on about that corporate motive.

The US is incredibly thin on socialism, even nominal socialism, and we already see traces of this when public-interest arguments become convenient. The Net Neutrality fight is a hideously good example; once ISPs decided their monopolies were too blatant to use free market rationales, they went out and astroturfed a narrative where cheap and fair internet was an attack on minorities and the poor.

And yes, I can't deny that US libertarianism (the party and a lot of the individual voices) is weirdly pervaded by a willingness to abandon libertarian principles in deference to corporations. It wasn't that long ago that you could find conservatives complaining about excessive "civil libertarianism" in calls for social progress. Today, it's horribly easy to find people arguing that Wells Fargo should be allowed to stretch their forced arbitration clause to cover outright fraud, because apparently the bank's rights are the only ones which we need to protect.

Spotify's customers could get some anonymous Spotify accounts and verify they are getting the expected number of ads? Or pay someone to do that for them.

That's what the ad networks do, and why advertisers accept their numbers. They've been measuring advertising impact for decades and have clear processes that generally include transparency and 3rd party auditing.

Of course, radio was paid for by ads as well.

Metallica doesn’t get a dime when their records played all night on college FM. The local hardware store on the radio ad also doesnt know anything about the personal lives of who might have heard their ad.

It is a different landscape now than just buying a primetime slot, advertising is much much more about gleaming any piece of potentially useful personal information about a user for an advertisers own furure use or for sale to the highest bidder. And personally identifiable information held by third parties will never be secure as it is a challenge and a prize for talented people to steal.

Indeed. And notably, the radio stations paid the composers of the songs.

You don't even have to go that far. You could let ads still be html iframes with text/image/video/audio content. Just no javascript or cookies. (enforcable via csp sandbox)

And "acceptable ads" policies of blockers could require those properties. They wouldn't even need a fixed whitelist or cooperate with specific companies for that, all they have to do is allow iframes with appropriate CSP rules. I.e. it's a vendor-agnostic approach.

They would not get as much telemetry, they also want all the data, it's not just the showing of an ad, it'c collecting everything the internet knows about the user and their pc. The problem is the tracking, collecting and resale of personal data. NOT simply viewing an ad! Ya dig?

> They would not get as much telemetry, they also want all the data, it's not just the showing of an ad, it'c collecting everything the internet knows about the user and their pc. The problem is the tracking, collecting and resale of personal data. NOT simply viewing an ad! Ya dig?

As a user, I do not care one iota about advertisers who "want all the data." They can all die in an adblock-fueled fire and I won't shed a tear. Their position of "[we] want all [your] data" is a selfish unwillingness to compromise.

However, I'd be willing to compromise with advertisers who agree to live in a sandbox that blocks tracking (but only as long as the page doesn't get too ad-laden).

Unfortunately a compromise like that could only be reached through enforcement by a third party (probably the government) and in the current political climate that's not going to happen.

Oh no don't suggest that.

Why... not?... It's pretty clear market forces haven't been strong enough to enforce privacy rights in terms of sleazy advertisers? Granted, the internet is pretty new when you look at the scale of history, but I think the role of advertisers in our internet has stabilized at this point, overt malware brings repercussions, user tracking causes privacy advocates to speak out and... the hordes on facebook keep on facebooking.

Inert, no-cookie ads are the compromise position between total blocking and allowing arbitrary code execution and tracking.

Then you can't target the ads to those who most likely will buy, then each impression is worth less in most ad marketplaces. I don't think you will be able to suggest a solution if you ignore the true desires of the buyers and sellers of ads.

> Then you can't target the ads to those who most likely will buy, then each impression is worth less in most ad marketplaces. I don't think you will be able to suggest a solution if you ignore the true desires of the buyers and sellers of ads.

Their desires aren't the only factor in the equation here. If they want to satisfy their desire to have their ads seen at all, they're going to have to sacrifice some of their other desires. If they expect the user make all the sacrifices, then they shouldn't complain when users like me mercilessly block them, encourage others to do so, and do what I can to encourage regulation that would destroy them.

TV and newspaper only supported very granular targeting and the world didn't end despite that. You can still target based on context assuming the embedding site provides that information ahead of time.

The epidemic of JS heavy ads is there for 2 reasons: 1. fraud, 2. tracking

I myself is skeptical about advertisements having future as such. In the age of the Internet, ads are the least useful method to discover product info.

The analogy for Internet ads today is like if modern cars were propelled by horses - an unviable arrangement. I know many online only companies making good money and spending literally zero on ads. The industry will eventually follow that path.

I would like to see this argument based on data as opposed to your feelings. There are many years of argument about the effectivity of advertisment, with a ton of data. One can usually argue that ads are not worth the price... it's very hard to find data that they are completely ineffective. They may be less effective due to ab blocking tech but they are still able to influence people.

My parallel is that - horses are an ok way to propel a car - it works, but a gasoline engine is way, way better and convenient. Ads are the horses here

It is just about how you communicate with the buyer. For a mass market good, smarter people simply go to Alibaba.com and press ctrl+f these days, and about anything non-commodity people already know everything from subject matter websites.

Even on Alibaba itself, front page spots, and top line of search results are usually not human curated, and they cost surprisingly cheap.

Most traders there deject them outright. In consumer goods, they don't shy away to simply send few samples to paid reviewers (ones who do that openly) like Linus, NR, etc, and write honest, first hand articles about their own products in tech blogs.

> Contrary to popular belief, ads can be delivered without arbitrary code execution.

All true and all irrelevant to his point.

I'm assuming you're using an ads-blocker. Just out of curiosity, if Spotify would serve ads via images only, without JavaScript, would you whitelist it in your ads-blocker?

If no, then the loading of JavaScript isn't really the issue, isn't it?

Man, I would delete my ad blockers right now and never use them again if everyone just served inert images, text, or even video without tracking affordances. I mainly block ads so I can cling to my last tiny shred of privacy and security

I add my take. I started blocking ads so many years ago that I lost the memory of it. It was not for fear of tracking and privacy intrusion. It was to improve the legibility of web pages. Ads pollute them so much more than they did to newspapers. Years after that, I started enjoying the implications of adblocking on privacy and tracking.

I also use uBlock Origin to hide many elements on several pages only to improve legibility, expecially on mobile (hello Medium hosted sites! and many other fixed positioned menus.)

Several companies have done this and the users still scream about it, sometimes more because now they can't block the ads.

The other hard thing for a company is internally, you see normal ad revenue going down and you have some users you can deliver to via some methods. You have to crank that method up to account for it.

Ads is also interesting with the "how much money is enough money" argument. When do you stop monetizing.

I started when x10 camera popups were the thing. Now, it's to control the javascript execution on my computer. It's stupid to allow JS to be run on your computer. (We do it because everything breaks if we don't. But it's still stupid).

My kingdom for a document-oriented web

Hypothetically there are three groups of people: Those who don't block ads, those who block distracting/dangerous ads and whitelist responsible ad delivery, and those who block everything.

In practice the second group is miniscule. There is zero incentive for companies to improve their practices and grow their market by targeting those people. Instead the only path to maximising profit is to increase the value they can get from people without ad blockers.

Do you really believe this is the main motivation behind people who are blocking Spotify ads? That they are sophisticated tech users who wish to express their distaste for intrusive script-based ads? Or is it simply because they want to use Spotify ad free without paying (in other words, engage in piracy to save some money)?

I find this rationale, while likely true for many readers on Hacker News, unlikely to generalize to overall population fo Spotify ad blockers.

It's not that it's impossible to deliver ads without referring to a thirds party site's code. It's that advertisers don't trust content sites to just tell them how many views they got.

> Contrary to popular belief, ads can be delivered without arbitrary code execution.

What popular belief is this? The ready counterexample is the delivery of an ad to a vaccuum-tube TV in 1950.

Here's the thing(s):

1. It's not just 1 type of ad. In Little Snitch, I have permitted Spotify to connect to 281 different domain names, most of which are ad-related. That's a lot of companies being allowed to run JS in whatever webview Spotify uses to display ads. I don't listen much on my computer anymore.

2. They keep advertising deals to me - $0.99 for a month, or $9 for 3 months, that I can't subscribe to because they don't let people in Quebec sign up for them, (something related to the consumer protection laws here). These ads are audio, in-app visuals, and even E-mails. This leaves a horrible taste in my mouth, and I've let them know several times, but they never change it. That, combined with the fact that I feel like the $10/month subscription is a tad expensive, make me very reluctant to subscribe again, (I was a subscriber through my mobile phone plane for a long time). At $5/month I'd subscribe instantly. $7-8 I'd probably still do it. $9-10 I can buy 10-12 CDs per year that I own in perpetuity.

I feel like if they did the ads right, (in-house, with non-insulting geotargeting), or offered a subscription price closer to one latté per month, I would have a lot less animosity and be more supportive of this move.

> $9-10 I can buy 10-12 CDs per year

This is good in other ways! One of the problems with Spotify is that the musicians don't really get paid a realistically useful amount. I say this as someone who has both a Spotify subscription and musician friends whose music is on Spotify.

That said, I personally find the subscription price surprisingly low for what I get, but I wouldn't try to tell you what to do with your money.

CDs don't send money to musicians either, unless they are self-publishing. But there's still a gap: I can't mix my paid-for (ripped) CDs and paid-for MP3s/AACs with streams in one app. This is the problem of letting the music distributer (Spotify) also control the player app.

I do this. It works, but there are some shortcomings.

You have to install the Spotify App on your PC. Adding new songs has been incredibly flaky for me (not recognizing that I've put new songs in the folder, Windows 10). The artists and albums don't show up in the "Artists" or "Albums" part of my Spotify library.

For now. Spotify has removed so many useful features from their desktop app over the years, I won't be surprised in the slightest when they remove the ability to listen to local files.

As a long time user on desktop, I haven't really seen much change or loss of features. The mobile app, on the other hand, tends to be flavor of the month. No longer defaulting to my library and instead the discovery home is probably the biggest annoyance

I'm surprised to see this. The integration of your personal library was totally ruined (for me) several years ago when they removed the ability to "unlink" songs. When you add your own files to Spotify, the files are scanned and sometimes matched against files in Spotify's own database. The trouble is that Spotify is pretty bad at identifying files correctly and will misidentify them and "link" them to a track on the service. Once this happens, you have no reasonable recourse.

To be fair, this is a pretty niche problem - tends to only be a problem when dealing with live music. So for example, if I have a concert recording, and make a playlist of those files for use in Spotify, Spotify will almost certainly replace at least one of those files with an album cut from the service. Now I'm left with a playlist of a live show that has had several tracks replaced with the _wrong_ version by Spotify.

The thing that initially drew me to Spotify was the fact that it made it pretty easy to integrate the music offered by the service with my personal library. I've always been disappointed that this feature was broken and left broken because the vast majority of people don't care about managing their own music libraries.

I've been a long time user on desktop as well. I was a fairly heavy user of Spotify plugins (and maybe "apps", but I didn't understand the difference). Plugins, of course, do not exist anymore. Looks like maybe about four years ago: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Desktop-Windows/No-Apps-plu...

I'm a little salty about them closing off third-party development, but it's cool, they can do what they want with their stuff. I saw the writing on the wall a while ago when they were pushing Facebook integration like crazy -- as they become more and more anti-consumer, I'll simply avail myself of their services less and less until they offer me no value.

> I can't mix my paid-for (ripped) CDs and paid-for MP3s/AACs with streams in one app

It's not an optimal solution, but iTunes can import songs from CDs, and you can add other mp3s to your library, but it doesn't cloud sync across devices.

Another solution is Google Play Music, which can import your iTunes library (and CDs indirectly from iTunes) and does do cloud sync.

iTunes can do that too if you use iCloud Music.

iTunes Match combined with Apple Music gives me everything.

Family sub for $14 month and $25 year for match to keep all my music even dodgy mp3s safe from bitrot is well worth it.

I move dozens of times a year, I no longer have to haul books and cds, I for one welcome my digital overlord.

Apple music includes match

I’m not sure it does, or if it does it doesn’t work very well. I have an apple music subscription. If I enable iCloud Music Library it only adds the songs to my other devices if they’re available on Apple Music.

There doesn’t seem to be a way for me to upload my own MP3s to the service like you can on Google Play Music.

No it doesn’t.

It’s a separate service

iTunes has two options for cloud syncing your library: $10/month Apple Music (which includes downloading or streaming both music you uploaded and the whole Apple Music catalog) and $25/year iTunes Match (which lets you downloading or streaming music you uploaded, but not the whole Apple Music catalog)

I wonder who the target is for itunes match. I always figured people with massive physical libraries aren’t using iTunes to begin with.

There's 2 ways Apple handles music you've ripped. If the music's fingerprint matches that of something they already have in the iTunes Store, your iCloud Music Library will be populated with the iTunes Store version of the song, so you can download that on your other devices. Only the original uploading device retains the original file. This is usually a good thing as the iTunes Store version is frequently better-quality than whatever MP3 or AAC you had ripped.

The second way is if the file's fingerprint doesn't match any song in the iTunes Store catalog, then with iTunes Match, iTunes will actually upload the whole file and your other devices will then stream or download that exact file. There are some limits here; I think there's a limit on the song duration (not sure what it is but I'm pretty sure songs over 1 hour are past the limit), and there's a limit on total number of songs (at launch this was 25k; I think they've raised it higher but I don't know what the current limit is). Whatever the limits are, I do know my father's music collection (all manually ripped from a massive CD collection) is too large for iTunes Match, so he's stuck managing music the way we all used to do before Apple Music and iTunes Match came along.

As far as I'm aware, the Apple Music subscription supports the first mechanism but not the second, and the iTunes Match subscription is needed for the second option. That said, I'm not 100% positive.

Personally these days I just buy albums and individual songs from iTunes. I like to "own" my music. They key is to have a budget and try not to exceed it.

Google Music allows exactly this. You upload all the stuff you own and have ripped yourself. Then, you can listen to that without paying. If you subscribe, you can build playlists and what not that include any song either from your library or their global library. Pretty neat.

I do this with Apple Music.

I'm willing to bet that your musician friends wouldn't be getting much of a payout if Spotify didn't exist either.

The actually popular artists make great money from Spotify.

Apparently almost the entire musician-as-a-middle-class has been wiped out since the internet and streaming got big. Jaron Lanier talks about it fairy often: now, almost everything goes to the top earners.

This is a fair point. The one who is most vocal about Spotify does not make her living (entirely) from her music in the first place. It would be most accurate to say Spotify has had no effect.

> The actually popular artists make great money

Is this so? As I recall, Spotify pays tenths of a U.S. cent per stream. The gross payout for a million streams is a few thousand dollars.

There's a strong argument for "$10/month is amazing for unlimited access to this entire catalog!" But I wonder how many songs or artists I actually listen to. Is it really that much more than I would if I were buying CDs?

I do enjoy the personalized playlists a lot, though.

Personally it's the freedom that I enjoy more. For example I have 400 songs into my Christmas playlist. There's so many duplicate, like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is there 9 times, but it's fun to have the different versions. Sure it would be fine to have 2-3 albums of Christmas, but then I would have to choose and there would be less diversity.

It's also amazing to discover stuff and follow new paths. Sure you could try to buy a random new album during a month, but that would be your whole exploration for that month, I could explore many more albums in a day. Right now I listen to a lot of a cappella group because of a good Pentatonix song I heard a few days ago.

I also enjoy just being able to listen to any CD. When I heard about A star is born, I was curious and I just had to open Google Music to listen to it, without paying more.

Would 12 CD a year would be enough to entertain myself? Yeah I have no doubt, but it wouldn't allow me to discover to having that much freedom.

For me it's much more than "I could buy CDs". A sub to Apple Music for example lets me go on musical journeys.

I listened to the many versions Vivaldi's 4 seasons the other day and enjoyed hearing how different orchestras performed. I have taken a dives into 80s rap/hip hop, or hair bands, or whatever else strikes me.

Those types of exploration were not possible in the days on only buying CDs.

If you wanted to support the artist the answer is buying concert tickets and $40 tshirts. Physical and digital sales/streaming are a drop in the bucket for a music arists income; you really burn the label when you pirate content. Cue RIAA “you wouldnt download a car, think of the artist” propaganda.

This is genre specific, and artist's popularity specific. I listen to a lot of smaller bands whose tours are almost never less than 2-3 hours from me. Plus, I don't really care for concerts anymore.

I'd rather just buy the album.

> $9-10 I can buy 10-12 CDs per year

For that money I can rent a cheap DSL line with which I can download 10-12 terabytes of music for absolutely free and without ads

And it's completely fine to not want to trade getting the ads for getting music. I think their point is that it's available for free in return for ads, or for a fairly reasonable cost. To decide neither is for you is just fine, but it's less reasonable to choose no money+no ads.

re #2: then why not buy 10-12 CDs per year and not use Spotify?

Dang, it's pretty telling that they don't provide their paid offerings to users due to the consumer protection laws in the respective region...

they do. I'm a paying user in the specific region mentioned. The thing they do not offer is the first month free. Quebec law forbids companies from "offering one month free" and then auto-billing you whether you consent or not at that point.

What companies frequently do instead is offer "pay N months, get N+1 months", such as getting 13 months for a yearly subscription. Spotify just never felt like modifying their offer for local laws, but I've nevertheless been a premium member for years now.

"Ad blocker" is #1 thing that should be installed first on every single browser, everywhere, to block third party ads. Then we browse. Heck, that browser Brendan Eich is working on comes pre-installed with one. So this isn't some fringe position I hold. It's basic web hygiene.

> When people aren't willing to pay for 1-2 coffees for a month of unlimited music streaming are you really surprised that companies have no choice to use an advertising revenue model?

No. But I get the sense you're trying to express moral indignation at such users, and I don't see the logic behind that. "I like $site_owner therefore I whitelist $arbirary_third_parties whose behavior cannot be controlled nor even really measured by $site_owner" isn't a workable/scalable lesson to try to teach users.

To be clear, I also don't see any reasonable argument to be morally indignant about Spotify blocking the blockers. This is the web as it currently exists.

> "Ad blocker" is #1 thing that should be installed first on every single browser, everywhere, to block third party ads.

Agreed. But I don't block ads just because ads are annoying. I don't even block ads because I don't like being tracked. My reason for blocking ads can be summed up in a single word.


As soon as ad networks began trying to spread malware through ads was when ads moved from being a nuisance to a serious security concern.

I block ads simply because I don’t want to see them. If a software annoys me I don’t use it. If a website is annoying, I leave. If a website is ok but ads are annoying, I block them.

Can someone explain to me where these "malverts" come up? I use two chrome profiles, 1 with an adblocker and 1 without, and browse pretty often with both, and while the experience without is undeniably worse (slower, bloated, garbage on the page), I've never gotten malware.

What is this stuff and where do I find it?

The Wikipedia page on Malvertising has several examples listed.


No, paying for service doesn't guarantee ad-free and tracking-free experience at all, especially for VC backed companies. They probably already inject tons of tracking for paying users. And those users are still just users, not customers. The only real customers of spotify are advertisers and sooner or later paying users are going to be sold to advertisers, there is just more money there and they can't ignore that.

It sounds like they're only suspending free accounts for adblockers. At the same time, I don't mind spotify tracking how I use the application. It generates valuable data for their product managers to improve the overall experience. If there's evidence spotify is using this data to track users across the internet, then there's problem.

Spotify is not a public service, it is a company. They can pay for user testing in order to improve their product or they can use completely anonymous data. Your privacy is not a necessary sacrifice for products to improve nor should it be.

That being said, I find it OK for them to block users who try to get a paid service, for free. What isn't OK is the advertisement model. A better model in my eyes would be for limiting the free element of the service more and/or running unintrusive ads for the service itself. That way you could still push for more paying customers, without sacrificing the users who can't afford the product.

I do think their is a nuance between tracking how you use the app and letting third party systems track what you do, where you are, etc. Still, they are just a company, not a basic human need.

> It sounds like they're only suspending free accounts for adblockers.

Unfortunately, it is unclear from both the article and the revised terms whether this is the case.

This is an absurd claim. I use spotify and suffer zero ads. There is no universe where I am anything but a paying user.

People go to extraordinary lengths to rationalize being outrageously cheap.

Ads and Tracking are two different things. Just because you don't see ads related to the tracked data in spotify does not mean that information is not used by the third party elsewhere.

If pay spotify and you listen to metallica, you might not get ads on spotify, but you might get a link to Metallica merchandise on another website.

The overwhelming bulk of Spotify's revenue comes from paying customers, not advertisers. And for those who are too cheap to simply subscribe, the majority of "ads" are pleas to subscribe (because selling advertising is not the business they want to be in).

The GP's claims are nonsense, discounted by the most cursory investigation. Trotting out some tired rhetoric about advertisers being the real customer to explain away an unwillingness to pay the most trivial of amounts is just embarrassing for everyone. It's especially ironic given that so many are both trying to justify not paying for a worthwhile service while also trying to justify ripping off the same service because...ads, or something.

I am a paying customer for multiple streaming service. I pay more for ad-free experience on Hulu. My problem is not with Ads, my problem is with Tracking, which is not the same. That is what I was saying, not endorsing ad blockers.

Ads only make up ~10% of Spotify's revenue. If they start putting ads on the paid version everyone will just leave for one of the competing ad-free services (Amazon, Apple, Google). I'm sure you're right about the tracking though.


Do you see subscription model work for music in the long run?

I think it will all depend on how this plays out in practice. For now, this is only some fineprint in a ton of other legalese that might or might not be used in the future.

I mean, if they show you a notification that you should really sign-up for a paid subscription or disable your adblocker, this does not really seem a big deal for me and all right for Spotify. However, if they terminate your account because you happened to use Spotify for a while on a system with adblocking enabled (does being on a Pi-Hole network count?), I am wondering if they won't just drive a lot of potential customers to Apple Music & Co, which is the last thing they need right now... I mean, if they would terminate my account like this, I definitely would not come crouching back to them asking for mercy to be allowed to sign-up for a paid subscription. I mean, I do have some dignity left.

(I usually use Spotify using their apps, so without ad-blocking, but I cannot guarantee that I haven't been using their web player from time to time, too, and of course my browser has an enabled ad-blocker. I don't pay for Spotify because I buy my MP3s and use Spotify primarily to discover new songs.)

These two items do not go together:

happened to use Spotify for a while on a system with adblocking enabled

drive a lot of potential customers

If they're not paying and blocking ads, they're not customers. And if they weren't willing to pay for Spotify, why would they suddenly be willing to pay for Apple Music?

being on a Pi-Hole network

The number of people setting up home filtering devices isn't even a rounding error to a service the size of Spotify. All of those people could disappear and they wouldn't even be noticed.

Ditto for the number of people who might just happen to end up on an ad-restricted network at a friend's house.

> If they're not paying and blocking ads, they're not customers. And if they weren't willing to pay for Spotify, why would they suddenly be willing to pay for Apple Music?

Well, because they have been terminated by Spotify, of course. I mean, it is pretty easy to imagine that your preferences are "free Spotify with blocked ads is better than Spotify / Apple Music / etc. for 10+$", but that after the "free with blocked ads" option disappears you will (grudgingly) end up paying.

And the right move by Spotify would be to support this transition in a way that does not drive this business to their competitors. If you end up moving these people to choose between "ok, now I have to contact customer support to get my account unblocked so that I can then start entering my credit card details" versus "ok, I can just use this big 'Start Free Trial' button here on Apple Music", I don't think that is a very difficult choice.

Also, while Pi-Hole might be quite niche, the point I was trying to make was more that many people use adblockers (about 20% in Europe[1], far bigger than a rounding error), but many of those probably don't do so specifically for Spotify, this is just a side-effect of running Spotify in the same browser. So they might be amenable to a warning that they should disable their adblockers on Spotify, while just terminating their accounts will just drive these users to competitors.

[1] https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-percentage-of-Internet-use...

Their customer bases aren't distinct streams. They want existing users to upgrade to a premium version. They're not going to be helped by banning those that are already in their system and a click away from an upgrade. Or, like myself, someone who tested out other similar systems and then decided to upgrade again. Does trying to use my account on a system with an adblocker (that I may not know about) warrant a ban?

This is just the “exposure” argument. Not every client converts to being a paid user. The kind that use free service and then block ads may not convert at a high enough rate to justify providing the service. Especially since it also cannibalizes the other product (paid streaming). The marketing team can then decide they’re not worth it.

It's much deeper than exposure. It's closer to an "ecosystem" model. You're likely to create playlists in a service. You will find channels that you like. You will find that some artists are not available in other services. You will find that an interface is better. You might find their "you-might-also-like" algorithm is better. I tried Google's music system for about a year before switching back to Spotify (the irony being that Google Play Music didn't play well with Google's Assistant if you have more than one Google account).

They want existing users to upgrade to a premium version

IME, cheap people are cheap. Nagging them doesn't change their minds.

If you get banned because of an adblocker you didn't know about, assuming you care enough to contact their customer service, I'm guessing they'd unban you.

The users disappearing might not be noticed, but the PR crapstorm that would arise would definitely be noticed, especially over a long enough timeline.

I think the main competition will be Amazon Music as I already have access to it due to my Prime account.

I have a Spotify subscription because Amazon Music didn't used to exist and now I am used to Spotify, but if I'm paying for Amazon Prime anyway then why not make the switch?

Because the Amazon music subscription you get through prime is terrible.

It's not "terrible." It's fine if you just basically want background playlists and don't want to pay for a premium service (from Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, etc.). But I agree that Amazon Prime Music isn't really a competitor to Spotify in the sense of using it to search for and play specific music.

> 1-2 coffees a month

Where do you buy coffee that one coffee costs $10?! (or even $5?) I still don't think it's a lot of money, but not quite so trivial.

> or even $5?

$10 is obviously nuts, but I find this one surprising as I've seen it come up a couple times. I'm on Vancouver island in BC and I'd be hard pressed to find a non-drip coffee that's not from a fast food place and isn't almost $5 after taxes.

It is a common marketing tactic.

A coffee is cheap, most of the times it is less than a dollar, sometimes as low as 10 cents if you brew it yourself from cheap ground beans.

But you probably paid $5-$10 for a coffee on a few occasions too. Though TBH, you may have done it just to rent a seat at Starbucks.

So 1-2 coffees is probably something you correctly value at about $1. By associating it with coffee, they make you think their $10/month service costs you just $1, using the super expensive case as an excuse.

Actually, I've never had coffee, but I understand your point.

Using US prices, a black basic coffee is probably $2-3 at a coffee shop.

Any kind of specialty drinks, which most people I would believe get at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, the local coffee shop, end up being $5-8, not even in a major city or metropolitan area.

Using US prices, a black basic coffee is probably $2-3 at a coffee shop.

Any size coffee is $1 at McDonald's 24/7. The quality is improving, too, so it's something to remember when you're traveling in unfamiliar territory.

Is that better than buying a pack of caffeine pills to travel with?

Yes. You get to interact with real people and stretch your legs.

honestly, i prefer not drinking any coffee if i can only afford mcdonalds coffee.

Hrmn, no thanks. I've never gotten a coffee at McDonald's that was a remotely drinkable temperature.

This meme is staler than McDonald's coffee. The temperature of McDonalds coffee is comparable to the temperature of Starbucks coffee, and always has been.

>In 1994, a spokesman for the National Coffee Association said that the temperature of McDonald's coffee conformed to industry standards.[2] An "admittedly unscientific" survey by the LA Times that year found that coffee was served between 157 and 182 °F (69 and 83 °C), and that two coffee outlets tested, one Burger King and one Starbucks, served hotter coffee than McDonald's.[32]

>Since Liebeck, McDonald's has not reduced the service temperature of its coffee. McDonald's policy today[when?] is to serve coffee at 176–194 °F (80–90 °C),[33] relying on more sternly worded warnings on cups made of rigid foam to avoid future liability, though it continues to face lawsuits over hot coffee.[33][34] The Specialty Coffee Association of America supports improved packaging methods rather than lowering the temperature at which coffee is served. The association has successfully aided the defense of subsequent coffee burn cases.[35] Similarly, as of 2004, Starbucks sells coffee at 175–185 °F (79–85 °C), and the executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America reported that the standard serving temperature is 160–185 °F (71–85 °C).


The temperature of the coffee in that case was not the real issue. The real issue was the flimsy cup design that was prone to collapsing in on itself (as well as a plaintiff who was easy to sympathize with and a defendant who was impossible to sympathize with.)

I'm not trying to bring up a lawsuit, just saying that the coffee is way too hot for me. I have the same problem at most places you can stop on at the road. I usually get my gas station coffee with a side of ice.

Basic at my local shop is under $2, including the sweetener bar (cream, raw sugar, nutmeg in a grinder(!) etc)

Its actually a family-owned chocolate shop (Winan's) offering Yurgacheffe, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Guatamalan and many blends. So a pretty good deal!

$0.99 any size at Cumberland Farms (Northeast US). And from the looks of the morning traffic, it's quite popular (even with a Dunkin' right across the street). Some people just don't way to pay extra for coffee.

Fair enough. I'm in the US, but my tastes are pretty basic.

As a student I paid £5 p/m, and I've definitely had a coffee that cost me £5.

As a not student, I pay £10 p/m. As I've had coffees that cost me £5 in the past, that is two coffees.

In NYC, I would say the average at an upscale place is about $3 for a cup of coffee, more like $5 for a cappuccino or similar espresso drink. With tip, I often end up spending $4-$5 for an espresso, though it pains me to admit that.

Vancouver, BC, man. My morning coffee/latte order comes out to $4-6 (CAD, so... 3-5ish USD) depending on where I get it from.

When I lived in Seattle... the numbers on the signs were still the same. $4-6 for morning coffees.

Toronto Starbucks: $4.95 for a grande cafe macchiato, which becomes $5.60 w/ tax. Even the cheapest black coffee is $3 I believe.

We're talking about the greenback, not our cheap canadian pesos...

$5 or more coffees are common in San Francisco.

Boston Stoker Large Grogg Latte

When I visited San Francisco I saw some cafe lattes and similar to be over $10, and that was the smallest size. That place is seriously expensive.

On the other hand it’s nice to visit a place where restaurant food costs more than in Finland.

EDIT: A Finnish comparison might be ”It’s just a pint or two per month”. So not that expensive.

I’m skeptical. I live and work in SF and frequent fancy coffee shops. I have never seen $10 plus prices for basic espresso-based drinks, although $4-6 isn’t uncommon. A $10 coffee must of had some other markup applied or been a specialty drink.

I’m not saying SF isn’t expensive. It’s not difficult to find cocktails in the $15-25 range, for instance.

Show me one place selling a $10 latte in SF. $5-6 sure, but you're exaggerating for no good reason.

He was probably at some swanky overpriced restaurant

I've definitely seen $8+ lattes at some super expensive restaurants in various cities around the world

A little bit of rounding up, excessive generalization, and not backing down, and BAM!

It was during last year on the GDC on some weird place near the convention center. Didn't visit any normal starbucks during the trip. Just enjoyed the $14 or so alcoholic drinks.

I typically buy at least 1 coffee a day for $7 at starbucks. Without this, I cannot function. I still cannot justify paying for any media. Certainly not $10+/month for Spotify or Netflix. Sorry. I don't care this seems inconsistent, its consistent to my own beliefs.

They sell caffeine tabs- 200mg each. A bottle of 80 is $7 at CVS. I agree with you on the subscriptions though. I'd rather buy something for life- not have it buy me for life.

Do you pay for cable tv? How do you consume media? Piracy?

Piracy!? Perish the though..

Is it piracy if I buy cable tv and timeshift with a torrent my dvr missed?

Yes, it is.

Hell no to cable TV. Hell yes to piracy.

Your beliefs are that coffee is infinitely more valuable than media, even though you need both in your life?

I need coffee, I don't need to pay for media. I want media, and I find it.

Actually this is untrue. Your coffee is also a desire which you find.

It is clearly a ridiculous assertion that a human being needs coffee. If you never had a cup of coffee again you would not die from that lack.

You need your psychoactive drug fix (caffeine), not coffee.

> There are at least three options:

> 1. Pay for the service

> 2. Suffer through the ads

> 3. Don't use the service

Those are the customer's options. What about Spotify's?

1. Offer the service as paid-only, no free with ads option.

2. Offer a paid version and a free version, but some people use ad blockers.

3. Offer a paid version and a free version, block ad blockers and expose your customers to malware.

The last is the only one that has "expose your customers to malware" in it, so maybe they should pick one of the other two. Because if all the customers chose either paying or not using, that's the same anyway, and if they didn't, they're actively harming the remainder.

Like others have mentioned, you can do #2/3 without the “expose to malware” caveat if you implement responsible ads.

> 2. Offer a paid version and a free version, but some people use ad blockers, and expose most of your customers to malware.

So that leaves option one.

Or for browser vendors to start shipping ad blockers or third party javascript blockers by default.

How many people have gotten malware from Spotify ads?

If Spotify won't respect the users rights and take responsibility and assume liability when Spotify distribute malware, why should should the user respect Spotify rights? Society is built on shared respect and the current online advertisement operates on the opposite model.

The reason why every large service on the Internet is ad-supported is that it does not need to follow advertisement laws. They don't even need to follow computer crime laws. If society would start enforce such laws onto online services we would see a major shift away from ad-supported services.

Why should the user then not respect Spotify’s right to terminate their account based on the TOS? Goes both ways if you ask me.

It's funny because whenever the adblock discussion comes up the standard argument is always "why can't the site have a paid subscription option? I would gladly pay for it."

Now that a service is offering subscriptions, people still don't want to pay for it, and the goalposts are shifted further.

> Why can't they offer it for $8/month?

After a price drop...

> Why can't they offer it for $5/month?

Another price drop.

> Subscriptions are expensive. Why can't they offer a free plan?

A free plan is released, with ads.

> Why can't they offer it for free with less ads?

Ad density is reduced.

> Why can't they offer it for free with no ads?

> I don't want all these songs. Why can't they have an a la carte option?

A la carte option has existed for a while, but company gives it a marketing rebranding.

> These a la carte songs are kind of pricey. Why can't they be $0.80?

> $0.50?

> They're just bits. Bits want to be free.

> Why are you ignoring your loyal potential customers? I'm going to stop pirating your product and tell everyone I know to avoid you.

Years ago, a Windows virus slipped on to three family machines I'm the go-to-guy for, due to Spotify using IE to display ads, and not vetting its ads properly.

My answer was two-fold - never use Spotify, and always use an ad-blocker.

Ad blockers are mandatory on my parents computers. They can’t distinguish between what is or isn’t an ad (not speaking specifically of Spotify display ads.)

I feel like I hold an opinion no one else reading hacker news has, I believe website owners should be able to deliver ads and website visitors should be able to block them.

I'm with you. Spotify can serve ads if they want. Users can block the ads if they want. Spotify can block any users (unless they are paying, then it becomes another issue) if they want.

That being said I also think Spotify (and other sites) should be held liable if they serve malware through their ads.

I feel like websites should be able to run clearly labeled ads that are not trying to pretend to be anything but an ad.

I also feel like paid for articles should be clearly labeled as such and not hoping people will not notice the review/write up isn't just an ad in sheep's clothing.

I get it. A website needs to make money in order to stay in business delivering "free" content. Why does it have to be a game? Commercials/ads on television are not hidden. We accept that in order to bring broadcast television without a BBC style licensing fee, the broadcasters make money selling air time to advertisers. Sure, some product placement occurs in some of the programming, but that's up to the producers and not the broadcasters.

Why is it any different on the internet?

Thing is, I had that all set up! I'd deleted all the IE icons! Spotify did an end-run around all my precautions, because there was basically no way to remove IE from the OS, and any app that wanted to use it could.

I've pretty much always paid for Spotify, and from what I can remember when they first started all of their ads were "radio" ads. How were they using IE to display their ads? Did they introduce pop-ups?

Embedded in the desktop app. It was news at the time. "spotify ads malware" looks like a good search term to dig up more information.

I am on a paid account and I use ad blockers religiously. Will Spotify still terminate my account?!

No because you're paying them more than ads generate

Not by as much a I'd have thought:

> Premium Gross Margin was 27.3% in Q4, up from 26.1% in Q3, and up 200 bps Y/Y. Ad-Supported Gross Margin was 22.1% in Q4, up from 18.6% in Q3, and up 350 bps Y/Y.


Do they have ads in the paid version??


Just banners advertising popular new releases.

In other words, yes.

What's the difference between an ad and a recommendation? I'm not sure but this certainly feels like suggested music to me.

AFAIK Spotify gets paid for those banners. If they don't then of course they aren't ads.

The difference is whether I have the power to customize it or turn it off, or if it is forced into my attention.

I'm in the same boat as you and I very much doubt it.

Probably not?!

Adblockers have been around for more than 20 years. It's only in the last few years that they've started seriously cutting into advertisers' business.

There's a reason for that. Most people don't care enough about ads to bother installing an adblocker. It's intrusive, disruptive ads that drive them to do that. It wouldn't have come to this if site owners had taken responsibility for the content of their advertising.

And, unfortunately, most people don't bother to change their adblocker's default settings (and raise holy hell if the default settings allow non-intrusive ads), so the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater. Bad actors ruin the funding model for everyone.

How did we ever get to the point where letting anyone slap any ads they want over your content seemed like a good idea? Imagine a newspaper or a TV channel running porn ads and saying "sorry, we don't control the content of our ads." They'd be crucified.

it boils down further then that.

I have the right to selectively choose what code runs on my computer, including code designed to grab ads and display/present them.

I also have the right to selectively choose what requests and traffic to allow in and out of my network.

Spotify has the right to do the same, including to deny to send me any traffic from their service for any reasons.

I also have a right to not like it if spotify does that, and everybody else has a right to not care if I do or don't.

"... are you surprised that companies have no choice to use an advertising revenue model."

I am surprised that they continue to believe that they should have any revenue "[W]hen people aren't willing to pay for 1-2 coffees for a month of unlimited music streaming."

It's like realising people do not want to pay for what you are selling and then, instead of owning up to the fact you therefore have no viable business, you turn around and vengefully sell those same people out, keeping them around by reducing price to 0. There is no business regarding that service. You find a new customer (advertisers) and sell something else (ads). Then you portray the original "service" as your business.

No matter how popular this has become, it is still a sham.

Selling ads is a different service with a different customer. It is not the same business.

There are probably some Internet service companies that do manage to sustain themselves on paid subscriptions. Perhaps they are few and far between.

Pretending that a successful ad sales business is the same thing as a successful Internet-based paid subscription service is disengenous.

For me it feels like death by a thousand paper cuts. $10 to spotify, $10 to neflix (or whatever they charge now), $10 to some other streaming service, etc.

I generally use option 4: pay for the service, and use a blocker to try to protect myself from risk I don’t see or understand.

Best I'm aware, radios offer unlimited music broadcasting all day long and are doing just fine without subscribers.

I've never used Spotify, but if its free, supported by ads option means serving web-based stuff, then it might want to look into getting rid of that and serving audio ads every few songs instead. Ad Blockers wouldn't be a problem in that scenario, and Podcasters have long shown that the what essentially amounts to radio ads are a perfectly valid way to monetize audio content.

> Best I'm aware, radios offer unlimited music broadcasting all day long and are doing just fine without subscribers.

Unlimited broadcasting of the same set of songs in rotation that they choose for you. That's supposed to be a huge selling point of the streaming services is to offer a larger selection than what corporate radio limits what's broadcast.

Regardless. If radios can get away with throwing an ad every few songs, why can't Spotify et al?

Because my radio playing an ad does not offer the potential for damaging my computer

How can an audio ad served by Spotify served in between two songs possibly damage your computer?

How would an ad blocker affect those ads? Why be obtuse? Ad blockers run in a browser to block ads from the visited website. Those ads have in the past and currently been known to deliver malicious code to the browser. Spotify is threatening to suspend the accounts of someone protecting their system from this attack vector.

> This thread is an object lesson in why basically every large service on the Internet is ad-supported. When people aren't willing to pay for 1-2 coffees for a month of unlimited music streaming are you really surprised that companies have no choice to use an advertising revenue model?

Note also that in the case of Spotify, Apple Music, etc., most people will only need to subscribe to one of those services to cover pretty much all of their music streaming needs.

With, say, newspapers and magazines they can try to make the argument that to meet their needs they would need to subscribe to a bunch of different papers and magazines and that would get prohibitively expensive very fast.

You can even try that argument somewhat with video streaming services. There are enough exclusive deals between movie producers and movie streaming services that picking one service only means you likely miss out on a lot of movies you want.

But with music that argument just does not work.

4. Don't pay for the service and block the ads :)

That said... Go with #3 everyone. Spotify is horrible for artists.

Correction: The labels are horrible for artists, Spotify payouts are just a symptom of the way labels rip every penny out of the artist.

We don't blame the knife when someone stabs another. Spotify is just another player in this diseased game. They are part of the problem, not a symptom of it.

This is coming from someone who has followed and evangelized Spotify since the beginning, way back when Ludvig joined and it was still P2P.

I'll listen to music everyday for a week then not at all again for the next 8 months. I would happily pay for it on demand, but monthly it'd end up costing me something like $10 per minute of music listened to per year.

I agree with your sentiment, but there's one piece of this whole thing I have a big problem with.

It's my device. I understand Spotify's motivation to want compensation for their great service, but shouldn't I be able to run my software, on my device, on my terms? I understand this argument doesn't solve anything, and puts Spotify in a bad situation.

But...how long until someone creates a solution to scrub the audio of ads in real-time? With a beginning delay for the listening buffer, of course. This isn't trivial, but it sure is repeatable.

I wish I had something better. I don't know; this quickly feels like digital [media] in the early 2000's all over again.

What you're witnessing is the inevitable backlash. It's your device. But Spotify also has the right to block your device.

> ...how long until someone creates a solution to scrub the audio of ads in real-time?

Let me tell you a little open secret. Ad-blocking in general can be circumvented right now. Even the most aggressive ad-blocking techniques can be brought to their knees, because they can be detected and the website can serve the content in such a way as to make ads impossible to block without ruining the content.

Not many publishers do it because publishers have chosen to not piss off the minority that has ad-blockers installed. But this minority has been growing and what you're seeing is them fighting back.

You ask how long will it take to block audio ads? It's irrelevant, because the publisher can deploy DRM in such a way as to make ad-blocking attempts illegal and easy to trace, since the streaming is done in real time from a central source. And thus users can receive big fines as to stop everyone else from doing it.

That publishers don't do this yet, that's only because they preferred to play nice with ad-blockers. But threaten their bottom line long enough and they'll fight back.

And who can blame them? Here's Spotify with a pretty good subscription model and users are now up in arms for no longer being able to get their content for free without ads.

It's irrelevant, because the publisher can deploy DRM in such a way as to make ad-blocking attempts illegal and easy to trace

How can they detect me covering the screen, looking away, or just not listening? How can that be illegal?

It's a cat-and-mouse game, and the mice will always win. Ultimately you'll get to the "analog hole of adblocking" situation anyway (user simply takes the headphones off or closes eyes or looks away etc.)

> It's a cat-and-mouse game, and the mice will always win

You don't have much experience with actual cats hunting mice to make that analogy.

Mice can win by breeding, but a lot of mice die in the process while the cat is getting fat.

Yes, you can run whatever software you want on your device. Who is telling you you can't?

In turn, Spotify can prevent whomever they want from streaming their content for free.

I've been using the paid option for a long time and I'm considering canceling it because the android app is crap. Worked fine in the beginning but now it frequently takes forever to load, sometimes requires a restart, and sometimes when trying to play songs, it takes a minute or two until it actually starts the song. This usually happens only when I'm using it after I've used other apps in between but I see no reason why it would happen. Not one single other app on my phone does this.

It also very often does this if connection is bad which is super weird considering all the songs are supposed to be downloaded for offline consumption.

Are you storing a large amount of offline music on an SD card? I've had that cause issues for me in the past. Their guide to fixing issues[0] is generally worth giving a shot.

[0]: https://community.spotify.com/t5/Android/COMPLETE-GUIDE-How-...

15 year old me had basically nothing. Paying $10 per month for pretty much anything was unthinkable.

I still wanted to listen to music though, so I found ways.

I really don’t think that was so terrible, and neither do I think the few million people that block ads are.

That's great, but you live in a country that have these things called laws and you have to follow them whether or not you personally think that breaking them "isn't so terrible" or not.

If enough people think the laws are terrible, then lobby your representative to have them changed. This is how the system works. Half the reason it doesn't work is admittedly our corrupt officials taking the big media money (RIAA and MPAA subsequently), but the other half the equation is you and me. Everyone just wants things to magically change and be the way they think they are suppose to be without putting any skin in the game.

>That's great, but you live in a country that have these things called laws and you have to follow them whether or not you personally think that breaking them "isn't so terrible" or not.

No. There are laws and breaking them may result in actions taken by a group that has claimed the right to infringe on my liberty. The action is right or wrong, independently of the law.

In this case the sole consequence is that a person has to create a new spotify account.

Actually, I don’t think I ‘have’ to follow any of those laws. It’s just that there may or may not be consequences for not doing so.

At the end of the day what I think is moral is a lot more relevant in daily life than what the law says (it just happens to overlap in a lot of places).

> you have to follow them whether or not you personally think that breaking them "isn't so terrible" or not.

That's plain incorrect, many people manage to do things that the state considers illegal.

And when people use cups of Starbucks coffee as their internal metric for cost and then use that as a value judgement for those who are not paying, it really drives home how out of touch techies are.

For the record, I pay $20 or so for Google Play Music for the family plan, despite being single. (Or at least I do until they shut it down, leaving me with no option for mostly streaming plus artists that aren't on any streaming service such as Tool or Neil Cicierega.)

Honestly, I wish Spotify just didn't offer a free option. It's cheap enough as it is, and without the free option could probably be even cheaper.

There’s a 4th option that somewhat falls under your number 2. AdNauseum (https://adnauseam.io/) spoofs interaction with ads while simultaneously blocking them. I suppose both the service and consumer can reap mutual benefits from AdNauseum.

You seem to take sides with business, but never forget the old adage: the customer is always right.

I used to pay for spotify, but they kept changing the interface and fucking up in other ways.

Seriously, I would have continued to pay them, if I could have used the same software I originally got with it.

Of course I am also the sole user who ever paid for groveshark premium, and none of the current efforts are even a tiny bit remotely close to its interface, much less its music selection.

I wish there was an option to pay a per-day rate. I like Spotify for what it does (it would be nice if I could purchase the CD of the music I listen to - alas), but there are times when I go for days or weeks without listening to it.

I'm still debating on if I want to spend $10.00 a month on something I may not use often enough to justify it? For now, in the spirit of everything, and to not be blocked, I turned off my ad-blocker. I can deal with it for now.

One thing I think about that is analogous is the fact that every month I donate $5.00 to my local NPR station - but I haven't listened to it in months! But - those are tax deductible (or at least once were? I'm not sure how it works now this tax year), and I do like the station, but I can only take so much of it at a time.

Maybe if Spotify weren't a paid service, and instead were "listener supported" with tax deductible donations - I could more readily get behind it...?

Ten dollars a month isn't that much, sure - it's something I need to think about more (it would be nice if there were an easy way to track when you use Spotify and for how long; that could help me too).

$10/month really isn't much. Compare to buying music, that's less than two album downloads from Bandcamp at normal prices. For those $10 you get completely unlimited access to all the music in Spotify's library, generated playlists and radios based on your tastes and listening habits.

Honestly, 10$/month is bordering on suspiciously cheap for what you actually get.

It's the same sort of odd psychology when it comes to paying for apps compared to paying for dinner. $2 for an app seems expensive, but $50 for a dinner for two is generally not even questioned.

...and of course the user who works for Facebook is espousing the position that we must be forced to consume content. (See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19115460 for more context.)

I agree, I block every ad I possibly can but if I actually benefit from using a service and they provide a (reasonably priced) paid option I'll gladly subscribe. I want the ad-driven model to die but how is it possible if the alternatives don't manage to make as much money?

Yeah, Spotify's premium plan with family member access is $15/mo. It's worth a lot more to me than that. I can't imagine tolerating ad intrusions (or feeling justified in working around their free plan's ads) to save 50 cents a day.

1-2 coffees? it's 10 bucks. where are you that 1 coffee is 10 dollars?

10 dollars is not a trivial amount of money, and its WAY above most people's pre-spotify music budget. If you don't spend that money, you have an extra $120 bucks at the end of the year.

Major city, depends on how fancy the coffee.

Your pre-spotify music budget was less than $10 per month? Pre-streaming music I was definitely buying more than one CD per month, to my recollection those were about $10-15.

Is that really your problem?

Even if coffee doesn't cost $5, and it costs $2.50, that's 4 coffees.

Or even $1 coffee, that's 10 coffees.

Unlimited music streaming for a month is absolutely worth 10 coffees.

The coffee example is brought up because _most_ people that claim that $120/year is a lot for them, spend a lot more than that a year on coffee.

That's not to say $10/month is trivial. I'm sure it's not a trivial amount of money for some people. The parent isn't denying that. They're saying that they're happy that Spotify is banning people that are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They're blaming people that CAN afford 1,2,5,10 coffees a month, and still chose ads or worse, adblockers for a service they can easily pay for as the demise of the internet. Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

It's almost as if people have different tastes and consumption profiles.

It's because they already get unlimited music streaming for free, from multiple sources. The value added by Spotify's premium plan is ad-free unshuffled playback and the offline option, so you have to see whether you have $10 in your monthly budget for just those features. I see the value there but it's also relevant to note that your phone can already do all that if you just buy music.

> Unlimited music streaming for a month is absolutely worth 10 coffees.

Depends on the person. Much of the music I want to listen to isn't on Spotify, so I'd have to supplement it anyway, and I rotate through artists slowly enough that it is about the same to buy CDs anyway.

Paying for the service is a red herring since Spotify is specifically targeting the free tier with this policy.

Thus, there really are only two options here when it comes to the free tier on Spotify: "Endure our ad experience or no 'free' service for you." However, there is a 3rd option here when it comes to the free tier: Spotify fixes the currently-terrible ad experience on its service.

I'd be 100% fine with ads on Spotify if they were bespoke like the ads I see from https://carbonads.net. Their ads are relevant, tasteful, and unobtrusive. Oddly, I end up paying more attention to Carbon ads than I've ever paid to a Spotify ad.

Sadly, Spotify is only offering consumers two options without any hint that they've even considered that they themselves could do something to address the issues underlying their customers' use of ad blockers.

Just pay for the service already and stop being so cheap!

It is amazing value for money, and at least some of it goes to the artists.

Why should spotify have any say on what software you use on your computer?

> Why should spotify have any say on what software you use on your computer?

They don't, clearly, as there are people who are running software they would prefer people don't run.

What they do have a say on is whether you get to have a Spotify account, and they can base that on whether or not you're seeing the ads their software uses for revenue.

You of course have the option to pay for the service, which results in the ads being removed from the service.

I say all this as someone who doesn't use Spotify at all.

They don't, but you also do not have an inherent right to use their service. What about video game cheats? Should e.g. Blizzard have no recourse should you run software which allows you to cheat in their games? You may say "well fix your bugs!", but it seems simpler and better for the community to just ban the tiny percentage of people who are hell bent on cheating.

I don't think cheating in multiplayer games is comparable. Doing so harms the experience of other players.

Spotify having to raise prices to pay for freeloaders would harm other people, too. This isn’t like copying software where the maker has no direct loss – everyone using Spotify costs them money in bandwidth, servers, and especially playback royalties. That might not be huge but it’s definitely more than zero.

The only argument from the GP was

>Why should spotify have any say on what software you use on your computer?

I agree that cheating is not on par with ad-blocking, but that's neither here nor there. If there are exceptions then the GP should clarify their position.

Well, blocking Spotify's ads directly harms their revenue and not just their feelings. So I would say it is comparable.


>Spotify has a pretty cheap paid option that removes all of that.

Five dollars a month for the rest of my life is not "cheap".

Frugal people look at the total cost of a loan, not just the monthly payment.

> Five dollars a month for the rest of my life is not "cheap".

It's not five dollars a month for the rest of your life though. It's five dollars a month for as long as you want to listen to music on Spotify without ads...

> Frugal people look at the total cost of a loan, not just the monthly payment.

It's not a loan.

$1,200 for 20 years of music, updated constantly. Still seems cheap.

Less than 5 grand for a literal life time of music.

In the article it doesn't say for free account only does it? So if you pay for the service but you have an ad-blocker running will you be suspended?

shrug youtube-dl -x --embed-thumbnail ${url}. Run a normalizer across it. Dump into iTunes. Get on with my life.

Ad agencies are bad actors. Not intentionally but because they have zero incentive to really police what garbage goes out across their systems. I block them on the client. I block them at the DNS level. I block them at the firewall.

I've dealt with the worst case scenario, no thanks. Previously I'd sub to spotify for a month when I was traveling and just deal with the ads that got though my standard setup when I wasn't. Now I just won't bother.

4. I don't want to pay for the data they are collecting, now if there was a paid option for that...

There is - it's called not using Spotify.

Yeah good, I'll just go back to getting all my music exclusively through the Black flag channels

Exactly. Poor musical piracy has been losing users to this service for too long.

What about option 4 to not provide a "free" service at all?

How dare these users block malware from their machines!

Thank you. The entire reason we are subject to as many ads as we are is because people aren't willing to even pay $1 a month for a service that has become indispensable to their lifestyle.

It shameful that people mindlessly spend $1000 on the latest fashion, sorry, tech accessory but can't afford a few dollars a month to enjoy the creative output of others.

I am in this predicament, and every one of these people are making up a blatant lie that they can't afford it. What they really mean is they are stubborn. They don't see money logically and clearly, where if they could they would realise their hidden costs far exceed $10 a month... Things like coffee, gas. They don't realise it racks up $10 $15 and $20 dollars behind the scenes. But theyre happy to pay for that... why? Because they don't have to see it go. They don't have to think about it. That's why people dont like subscriptions. Spotify is extremely affordable, for literally everyone who can afford an internet connection. People are lying about why they don't want to pay for it; I'm young and poor and to tell you the truth even i can afford it, I'm just way too stubborn.

People don't want to pay for it because there are mechanisms in place that sustain these businesses outside of ads. Just think about how much VC money is dumped into these services that never or barely generate a profit and they're all free to use and have been for years. Twitter and Snapchat come to mind. Blocking ad blockers is incredibly annoying and is just an excuse for ad spamming. Let me tell you watching Youtube without ads is a dream compared to seeing a 4 second ad on every video start and then 5 mid roll ads. It's insane. Google Play on the other hand does 2 to 3 ads after several minutes of listening. And the ads are make 10 - 15 seconds long. That's proper ad play.

>People don't want to pay for it because there are mechanisms in place that sustain these businesses outside of ads. Just think about how much VC money is dumped into these services that never or barely generate a profit and they're all free to use and have been for years.

Please correct me if this is disingenuous, but I feel like you basically just said you're used to having VCs subsidize your entertainment platforms and that you've extrapolated that entitlement into a justification for never paying for any entertainment acquired over the Internet.

At the very least, it seems obvious that it's unsustainable and likely that creative artists will be the first squeezed. Also, I don't think this explanation combat's the parent's observations about spending habits at all.

Please correct me if this is disingenuous, but I feel like you basically just said you're used to having VCs subsidize your entertainment platforms and that you've extrapolated that entitlement into a justification for never paying for any entertainment acquired over the Internet.

It has worked for several years. So why not?

At the very least, it seems obvious that it's unsustainable and likely that creative artists will be the first squeezed.

It's unlikely this would ever happen. But mostly, I'd be fine with embedded ads if they were used responsibly. But, according to Wikipedia, Spotify was founded over 10 years ago. In 2017, it was reported that it was still not profitable despite its subscription models: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-38930699. Last year it launched an IPO. So somehow, Spotify magically became profitable enough to launch an IPO or it lasted over 10 years from what looks like VC funding without being profitable and is still not profitable. That leaves only one question, how does such a business survive so long without profit and did VC's really care considering how popular the platform is.

> Spotify is extremely affordable, for literally everyone who can afford an internet connection.

Maybe everyone in the first world, but certainly not everyone who can afford an internet connection. Smart phone internet connectivity is still pretty ubiquitous in many areas where the typical smart phone is <$100 and the average income is an order of magnitude lower than the developed world.

1. Use an alternative like Deezer.

> ... people aren't willing to pay for 1-2 coffees for a month...

Lol it's $10 per month. Who pays $10 for a coffee?

A large pumpkin spice latte at the starbucks down the street from me is $5.15. So two of them are over $10 and there are a lot of people who buy those. Average price of other things on the menu is around $4.

> 2 coffees for a month

Where is that price from? What if I live in a poor country and price of 2 cup of coffee is $0.40?

Yeah I wanna know what kind of coffee this dude is drinking. Even at the most expensive places US side it's <3.50. I know this is semantics, but that's super deceptive. The only thing of value to me from Spotify is their quantification of my musical tastes.

That said, full disclosure I'm a notorious pirate on the dread sea qbittorrent with little qualms about denying others profit; so take anything with a massive grain of salt.

> Even at the most expensive places US side it's <3.50

Not true; I live in the US and a coffee from a fancy place is easily >$5. A starbucks frappawhatever is way more.


Wait! You're telling me that for the price of two coffees a month, I can have unlimited streaming on the go!?

How about if marketers want me looking at their ads, they can stop pouring millions of dollars into research about how to spy on me through those ads against my will.

The "cup of coffee" unit of measurement is becoming increasingly popular when comparing digital subscriptions. Generally these things are incredibly cheap. For some reason people are ok spending 5 bucks on a latte for 30 days a month ($150) versus an order of magnitude less for Spotify, Netflix, etc...

You cannot pay for the service, the service is free. You pay for not being forced to watch ads. Not forcing people to watch ads is what decent people simply do, nobody deserves to get paid for that.

This is like saying you cannot mute your TV when a commercial comes on. Actually it’s worse. It’s saying you cannot even look away.

It’s my TV / my phone / my screen. Me. MINE. If someone else emits some information they make freely available, that in no way entails they have any say whatsoever about what I permit to be visible on MY screen.

Just like you can decide what is shown on your screen, they can decide to not let freeloaders use their service. You always have the option of paying for a subscription if having full control over what is shown on your screen is that important to you.

What do you mean freeloader? They chose to distribute the content for free, not me.

If they mistakenly thought this would allow them to guarantee certain things to appear on some private citizen’s personal property, it sounds like a very foolish decision on their part. It might mean they have to shut down the free version of their content or something.

If they try to circumvent my ability to control what is shown on the screen that I own though, it will fail comically, as there will just be an arms race of new technology I can use to ensure my freedom to control what shows up on my screen, to such a degree they would bankrupt themselves trying to control what goes on my screen.. seems a stupid waste on their part, wishing to control someone’s private property like that.

> They chose to distribute the content for free, not me.

Yes, and now they are freely choosing NOT to distribute the content for free, except to people without adblockers.

No you mean to anyone who circumvents the banning mechanism legally.. so like, everyone who wishes to.

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