Tag Archives: Last.fm

Spotify are digging their own grave by not going social

There’s a phrase I picked up from somewhere a while ago and now use it quite a lot. It’s;

No involvement, no commitment.

The basic premise is that if you don’t feel involved in something then you’re less likely to be committed to it. Take work, for example. If you don’t feel as if you’re an integral part of the place you’re less likely to give two hoots about getting in on time, meeting deadlines etc.

This basic idea seems to be behind so many things, including social media.

For me, Facebook works because it makes it so easy for friends to involve each other in what they’re doing. Earlier this year, Neilsen released some stats showing the amount of time people spend on top sites. Facebook, the 4th most popular site and most popular social network, pushed passed the 7 hour mark. That’s over 7 hours a month that the average user spends on the site.

Spotify. I love it. I have a premium subscription allowing me to listen at a higher bit rate than most users and, with the app on my 32GB Nokia N97 I have an incredible MP3 player at my fingertips.

But Spotify is in trouble. It’s not reaching enough subscribers in the UK – it’s biggest market – putting the whole business model in doubt.

I’ve been saying for ages that Spotify needs to get social. It needs to add that element of involvement that keeps people so glued to Facebook. I ‘scrobble‘ what I’m listening too so that my habits are recorded by Last.fm, but I never use the service because it involves the effort of opening up another service, but if those features were built into Spotify… wow. Then I could interact with my friends, just like I do on Facebook, but focused around our shared music tastes.

Nothing provides that in one place. It takes two apps and some manual copy/paste to share stuff.

So as exciting as mflow looks, it’s a bit too much like Last.fm but on the desktop. Sure it’s great that I can share songs I’m listening to and like, but I have to switch from Spotify to mflow and search for the track that’s already right in front of me in Spotify. Again, ball-ache and I can’t see myself using mflow long term because of the extra effort involved.

What Spotify needs to do is add mflow-like features. Let me “favourite/like/love” a track/album/artist. Show this on my friend’s start pages, as part of a timeline of activity including what I’m listening too. Show me a chart of my compatibility with my friends.

Give me a profile which shows what I’m listening to, charts of what I listen to most. Let me share tracks, albums and playlists with friends easily from within the application.

Let me involve my friends in my Spotify experience and let them do likewise. We’ll all be more committed to using Spotify – and with the added benefits, far more likely to pay that £10 per month for the privilege.

Update: What I’m proposing is nothing new, it’s human nature. Check out Dan Slee’s post on mix tapes as the pre-internet social media.

Update #2: Spotify made a u-turn; they’re going social! This article on Music Ally describes the Facebook integration features which will allow easy sharing of playlists and tracks between friends. Not only that but they’re sorting out my second bug-bear: existing music libraries. No longer will I have to suffer the embarrassment of using Windows Media Player as Spotify will now incorporate music already stored on your PC. Fantastic! Well done, Spotify.

Spotify won’t be on the iPhone but neither will it ‘revolutise’. Unless…

…it gets cheaper.

I’m a massive Spotify fan. It’s like listening to commercial radio but without self-obsessed DJs tranting about their bowel movements and the same stream of adverts for double glazed windows. Plus, you make up the playlist. Listening to Spotify, unlike any radio station means I can listen to lots of different music, not the same drab playlist 5 times a day.

I can put up with the odd advert in exchange for having a massive collection of music at my fingertips without the need for a cargo container full of hard drives. It’s a damn good deal.

£9.99 to get rid of those adverts isn’t though. Think about it.

When my friend Nick told me he’d subscribed my immediate reaction was, why? For the same amount you could download about 30-40 tracks from eMusic (it’s not like hard drive space is expensive either – most PCs will have plenty of room for a few thousand tracks) and using services like Orb it’s easy to access that music anywhere – including on a mobile phone (like my beloved #JournoPhone).

Which brings me nicely onto the reason Spotify won’t ‘revolutionise’ the industry as many would have us believe. It’s too closed. You can access it on any PC or Mac that has it installed but not on your phone. Those with jail broken iPhones will be able to soon but the rest won’t – and it’ll be a long time before it gets to other phones, if at all.

You can’t easily transport your playlists either. I was at a friend’s house recently and wanted to find some songs off my playlists but the only way to do so was log into my account, open a text file and copy/paste the link to my playlists. Where’s the API? Where’s the web site where I can log in and view, edit, delete and generally screw with my playlists? Where’s the follow feature so I can see when my friends with similar taste create a new playlist or listen to one of mine?

Oh, there’s a C API. Brilliant! That means that all those thousands of C programmers out there can make….. more desktop apps. That’s…… good.

Dear Spotify, give us web dev types an API and we’ll give people more of a reason to actually pay £9.99 a month and then maybe you won’t be missing your revenue targets!

You know, I’m also starting to see a lot more tie-in with Last.fm so maybe I should be directing my requests at CBS? Go on, guys, buy Spotify and add lots of social features to it. If you don’t I’m gonna go write a kick ass business plan and go find some trusting VCs…. then Spotify will be your competitor!

Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.