WEB REVIEW: Music site tries to crack U.S. with alleged exclusivity

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Jim Cota

Taking advantage of our basic desire to be part of the insider crowd, Spotify (www.spotify.com)—which has already had success in the European market—has launched here on an “invitation-only” basis.

The strategy has worked well in the past, essentially creating the mystique that something new is rare and therefore worth having. Google did this with GMail several years ago and again with its new social networking platform, Google +. The marketing folks at Spotify no doubt took note of this success and wondered how they might improve the strategy.

Which is where they missed the mark. 

Instead of rolling out slowly, Spotify seems to have struck deals with anyone who has a pulse to offer “exclusive” invitations to join the service. Coke, Klout, Chevrolet and Motorola all sent me offers for a free account. With all these invites floating around, Spotify seems to have lost some of its exclusive panache, but that hasn’t really stopped people from creating accounts and checking it out.

So, marketing snafu (or genius ploy) aside, what is Spotify, how is it different, and should you care?

The answer, as with most of these new services, varies a little depending on who you are and how you might use it.

The cool thing about Spotify is that your account will let you tune in and listen to “any song, anywhere, anytime.” The service claims to have access to 15 million songs, all available to listen to on your computer.

You can also import the MP3s you already own, but it seems like they should already be included in the 15 million, wouldn’t you say?

In the United Kingdom, the free account has some limitations: Ads play during your time streaming, and you’re limited to how much time you can spend on the service. Initially (to get you hooked, I presume), you get 20 hours of streaming for free and then it lowers to five hours a week. After six months, the weekly allocation drops again, to 2-1/2 hours.

Also, each song (unless you have the MP3 loaded from your own library) can be streamed only five times. Bump up against any of these barriers and the service prompts you to upgrade to one of the paid versions. It’s unclear whether these limitations also apply to the American service, but I would expect they would—if not initially, then at some point in the future.

In addition to the free account, the service offers two paid plans, Unlimited ($4.99/month) and Premium ($9.99/month). With both the paid versions, the advertising is eliminated. The Premium version takes things a step further by enabling you to move the music from your desktop computer to your mobile devices. It also provides an “offline” mode for both the mobile and desktop applications that allows you to play select playlists without an Internet connection. The offline mode is a nice touch, and could be a differentiator for the service. In a sense, it allows you to “own” as many songs as you like, as long as you’re a paid subscriber.

All accounts have social media integrated at the core. It’s simple to send a link or playlist to your friends (either individually or as a group through Facebook or Twitter) and they can listen instantly. Spotify claims this social integration is a great way to discover new music, but that claim falls a little short for me. The “discovery” process is really limited to finding things that my friends like or share, which doesn’t seem either as compatible or as powerful as Pandora’s use of the Human Genome Project, where each song I like helps the system automatically play other songs I’m likely to like.

The desktop version has a similar look and feel to Apple’s iTunes, so it’s instantly recognizable and easy to use. Overall, I think Spotify will make a big splash, if for no other reason than it will get to ride for a while on the “latest and greatest” train. There are other competitors already in the market, however, including Rhapsody (www.rhapsody.com), Grooveshark (www.grooveshark.com), and my continued favorite, Pandora (www.pandora.com), most of whom already have a loyal user base and similar features.•


Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.


  • Pandora?
    How do you say that Pandora is like this? Can you choose what song you want to hear on Pandora? I am a huge fan of Pandora, but lets not muddy the two together! Apples and Oranges....

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Good Day I am Mr (Victoria Wright) from United state of America, i stayed in NEW YORK, and i have a broke up business, until i found this company email who help me to gain a loan for business,, and now i want to used this short medium to congratulate the below company for the fast and safe money they loan to me without any form of collateral, i loan 500,000USD from the company to save my business and lots more, i saw their mail on the internet, everyone always give testimony for what they did, so i quickly contacted them and they all did everything for me without stress and my money was sent to my account just 3 days later, i was surprise and i feel so glad, now i have a standard business control agent who help me, now i will advice those who need urgent loan to contact him at the bellow email:zenithfirm12@gmail.com

  2. NOTICE:This is to inform the general public that Vampires are real. My name is James Franklyn.,am an agent of vampire,am here to introduce our new world trend to you,a world of vampire where life get easier,we have made so many persons vampires and have turned them rich,you will be assured long life and prosperity,you shall be made to be very sensitive to mental alertness,stronger and also very fast,you will not be restricted to walking at night only even at the very middle of broad day light you will be made to walk.In case you are wildly oppressed by some unscrupulous persons we can still help you fight them.Your protection is assured immediately you join.Just contact the bellow email if you are interested we are here to attend to you anytime you want us. Contact the bellow email for more details. Email:vampirescreed@hotmail.com Sincerely: James Franklyn.

  3. Bravo! Someone else that is willing to speak the truth! Bravo!_____NBCSN is available in almost 2 MILLION more homes than just a few years ago, but Indycar STILL gets less total viewers than it did just a few years ago when NBC took over Versus. Attendance and ratings cratered with the end of season races (just when the title battle got "interesting" HAH!__________And now...new race in Basilia, where Miles celebrated the "rich history" of Indycar racing there. Rich history? What, 7 events in the 100 years of AOW? Yep, some history. Well, at least its an oval. It's not??? Are you kidding me??? Gosh darn road racin furriners.

  4. PURITY RAY LOAN OFFER........ Have you been denied by your banks,or are you in need of of an urgent loan to pay of your bills we are capable of giving loans @ cheaper rate to interested individuals, student, companies and members of the public in need of finance to settle bills, we do offer considerable loans which you can count on. For more information on our various types of loan,then you will have to contact PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM, to help you achieve your desire LOAN APPLICATION FORM TO BE FILLED BORROWERS INFORMATION * Full name:………………………. * SEX * ……………………………. * Country………………………….. * State:……………………………. * Land:…………………………….. * Occupation:…………………….. * phone number:…………………. * Telephone: ………………………….. * Age:………………………………. * Amount needed as loan:……… * Loan Duration:………………….. * Propose of Loan:……………….. * Annual revenue:………………… * Monthly Income:……………….. * Guarantee:………………………. * Payment: monthly or annually Email.....purityrayloanfirm@gmail.com Thank you and God bless Mr Purity Ray PURITY RAY LOAN FIRM we tend to serve you better

  5. Problem: most of the people responding to this article don't know about this service AT ALL! Why? Lack of awareness. This isn't IndyGo. This is CIRTA: might as well be the mattress company because they are asleep at the wheel - something like 3 directors over the last year? Playing with federal grant money is great! This "region" wants commuter rail service, has spent MILLIONS on Transportation studies yet can't even support a commuter bus line? This is largely for suburban riders to get to downtown - not for "service people to work in our hotels and restaurants" ! Get your head out of your backside!! These are professionals, students etc. that don't want to fight traffic, save some money on parking, gas, stress.... if CIRTA would put their federal money into widely promoting the sevive to Greenwood, Fishers & Carmel instead of finding directors and studies - this would be a successful service. Our family uses(d) it daily for the last several years - but the recent uncertainty & now unreliability due to cuts from Carmel has been a problem. Now, costs us an additional $350/month for gas & parking ( $4200/year) plus vehicle wear, service, environmental impact ... YES - this REGION needs this this type of service in order to keep growing and getting the people it needs to fill skilled positions in downtown Indianapolis. Think outside of your own car !!!