Spotify has its problems for musicians and music fans, but it’s undeniably an enormously popular service. It was also one that, until now, you couldn’t get on your phone unless you were a paying subscriber. But that’s officially going the way of the dinosaur. And there’s more to it than you might think.
At a press conference today, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek noted that shuffle and playlists were the most popular function, so instead of being a “radio” service, Spotify’s mobile app is more like listening to an iPod that you’ve downloaded radio ads to, for some reason. If you choose an artist, the app will stick entirely to that artist, not “artists who sound like that artist.” You can also shuffle through playlists you find.
And, yes, you can easily skip a song, and you don’t have to pay for more skips. You can also tag a song to playlists as it’s rolling. And of course, you can poke around for new music, listen to new playlists, and so on. And in more places: Spotify is coming to another twenty countries. All of this is ready to go today, by the way.
There are a few questions, though. The first is how often you’ll hear ads on your streams; all these features are great, but obviously they’re not going to come rolling in for free. And Spotify has made no bones about the fact that they still have a subscription service they still want you to pay for. The second question is how artists are going to get paid with this mobile streaming; what do the ads sell for?
Still, as we’ve noted, Spotify at least pays artists, unlike terrestrial radio. We’ll just be curious to see what it has to offer as it expands, and as users don’t have to pay.