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Spotify: Not so free as it was

Rory Cellan-Jones | 17:00 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bad news today for millions who've relied on Spotify for free music. The streaming service announced that it was putting a cap on their access to its huge library of music - they will only be able to listen for a maximum of 10 hours a month, and can listen to any single track no more than five times.

founders Martin Lorentzon (L) and Daniel Ek talking in front of a giant Spotify logo

Cue anguish on social networks - "what fresh hell is this?", "weeps", "noooooo", and "Limewire (the file-sharing site) makes a reappearance" were among the comments I received.

But I'm hearing that Spotify had the move forced upon it by the record labels and the move reflects continuing tension between the fast-growing digital service and the music industry.

It seems that the original licensing deals which enabled Spotify to get off the ground a couple of years ago are coming to an end - and some of the labels in some European countries are getting restless about how much of their content is being given away for free, with minimal fees in return. Yes, 15% of Spotify's users are now paying customers, but as the service grows, millions of tracks are being played for nothing.

As someone put it to me, "the guy whose bonus still depends on CD sales is cutting up rough".

And it's worth remembering that Spotify is locked in a seemingly endless round of negotiations with those same labels about launching in the United States. Against that background, the streaming service has apparently decided to allay some of the concerns by putting strict curbs on what users can get for free.

I ran some of this past the respected music industry analyst Mark Mulligan. He said it seemed a plausible scenario, with the record labels still thrashing around in desperation as they try to work out how to make profits in the digital age.

"The industry is in trouble, downloads aren't working, CD sales continue to plummet, and Spotify was an easy target."

But he also thought that it was convenient for Spotify to blame the labels:

"Their own numbers still aren't adding up - they may have needed to do this anyway."

The record labels, for their part, know they need to support new digital services. After all, Spotify has persuaded one million people across Europe, most of them pretty young, to pay for music, something the labels find ever harder.

Spotify and the record labels are locked in a marriage that neither seems to be enjoying - but each needs the other if they are to survive into a profitable future.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I just use mflow or GS anyway. No ads. No downloads. They're both better.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would imagien this can only be a boost for the UK based music streaming servcie We7 which continues to offer ad supported music both through computers and free through Android smartphones. They always seemed to have more adverts than Spotify though so maybe that is why they can afford to do it. Plus, they are like Spotify and allow premium upgrades. Plus since they were set up by Peter Gabriel (yes him of Genesis fame) and other people from within the industry maybe they will be closer to the music labels.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm a big fan of Spotify, and I've been thinking for about a year that their free service isn't restrictive enough. It's like a radio station which always plays music I like (a big bonus) and has hardly any annoying adverts and interruptions. They have finally given me a compelling reason to upgrade. The six months grace period is a very good idea: music is an experience good.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well I spent 5 minutes on We7 and hate it, the UI is terrible, 10 seconds adverts before you even listen to music, at least Spotify let you listen to the music first before the adverts. An the site just looks messy and ugly. You know it not hard to design nice looking, easy to use and navigate websites.

    An I still not clean on browser base music software.

    I shall mourn Spotify.

  • Comment number 5.

    What everyone seems to forget is that music costs a large amount of money to produce. Before the internet came along and theft of music became commonplace, if you wanted to listen to an album, you went to a shop and spent £15 on buying it, and artists were able to make a considerable amount of money, which led to the image of the "rockstar" lifestyle, big LA mansions and excessive spending.

    Once downloading became prevalent and CD sales plummeted, Musicians were left struggling to earn money from touring, which has never really been profitable except for all but the very biggest acts. The music industry went from a lucrative "dream job" to a world of financial worry. The public however still see music stars as overpaid and underworked, with the easiest job in the world. These days, most artists struggle to make enough money to enjoy a steady income, let alone act like a rock star.

    Unless the public realise music doesn't come for free, and there is considerable expense in producing the tracks you take for granted, it simply won't be there for us to enjoy anymore! I happily pay £10 a month for Spotify, and consider this a bargain.

    The public need to wake up to the damage they've done to the music industry. Music isn't free. Live with that, and start helping the industry that gives you so much enjoyment every day!

  • Comment number 6.

    DrummerJonny - some would say that if somebody's working in an industry that's dying out, they should try and work in a different industry instead.

  • Comment number 7.

    The record industry is stuck in the era of it's birth when the cost of a record press made piracy impossible. Records cost a lot to produce and that was reflected in their cost. Downloads have virtually no marginal cost yet the cost of an album is little changed.

    Most recording artists made quite a modest income from music: Nowadays the expectation is that simply singing along to a backing track should be the key to untold wealth.

    Both the record industry and performers need to change to meet new circumstances - adopt a new pricing model, understand that the days of the Rolling Stones are over and you'll find there's still a good life to be had giving enjoyment to people rather than leaving them feeling robbed...

  • Comment number 8.

    @DrummerJonny


    Your local pub band is hardly affected by illegal downloaders, but the mainstream music business, needs to improve its product first.

    Currently, it's the same bland music being flogged to death, I'm looking at YOU Radio 1, in particular.

    Wish the new Spotify five times maximum play would apply to Radio 1 too, you nearly get that in 12 hours!

  • Comment number 9.

    To DrummerJonny, I can't help but think you're incorrect. Many bands have made money primarily through merchandise sold at gigs - the record companies have rarely given them a fair share. Classic example - Metalica. They made barely anything on their first three albums, but kept it going via sales of everything from t-shirts to skateboards. Fair enough, they got big, but only after sales went past gold.

    You may look at the "Rock Stars" who make big money, but they have always been a rarity in a massive industry - most musicians have to gig our backsides off, hope for a record deal, hope we sell enough cd's to break even, and in the meantime get by on whatever life throws at us. I knew someone who got the "big break" of a record deal, sold enough records to make the label a profit, but not enough to pay off the advance that was paid for the recording of the album - which, baring in mind that the record company had chose the studio, was ludicrously expensive. In the end they were cut off after one record, meaning that their band, as a business, was legally bankrupt as they still owed the label for the advance. They ended up with nothing, the label made a profit. That's the way it goes for most bands.

    As for the cost of music production, 10-15 years ago I might have agreed. Now studio and production equipment has moved into the digital age, the cost of production has gone down vastly - the custom compressor that cost three grand now comes in a vst that sounds exactly the same and costs a couple of hundred quid.

    In the end, if the major labels disapeared tommorrow, music would not go away, and the industry would be better for it. We have a massive underground who are creating and producing music - the only thing the record companies have up on them is publicity. Lets get the focus on the musicians, and get industry working to something that can cope in the modern world.

  • Comment number 10.

    In the end i think it all comes down to value. Whether you or I feel that we get value for our money. Do we really think this CD is worth what we are expected to pay for it. I used to be a spotify customer but failed to see what i was being offered over my personal music collection.

    Music piracy and bootlegging has been around much longer than the internet but it was harder to quantify until then, people have always had music that they would have gone without unless they got it off a friend. That was never a lost customer.

    What the current climate has produced is an entire generation of kids who think and expect music to be free, if they are expected to pay they go elsewhere. This is entirely down to the music industries focus on attack and strangulation, people like spotify are trying to monetize a generation who dont expect pay for creative content.

  • Comment number 11.

    whatever, i'll just download music again.

  • Comment number 12.

    10. At 21:20pm 14th Apr 2011, set321go wrote:

    Except we were paying, we were listening to the adverts. But it is becoming clear the music labels are forcing them into giving up that business funding model.

    An Youtube and Pirate Bay will from now on get mine ears time.

    An Spotify could have evolve into a multibillion pounds business, especially if it got into films and TV shows distribution and so fourth.

    Instead it now a dead man walking and just made a enemy of the people that helped it grow to the size it is today, and in a world where there are lots of alternatives, legit an illegal the chances of them ever regaining us customers is low to zero.

    The very least they could have done is just applied the new rules to new customers, but I guest they know themselves that the new product is so unattractive that they would never attract any new customers.

  • Comment number 13.

    Record companies need to invest/support profitable and increasingly popular offline retailers like Rough Trade, who celebrate music with expertise, credibility and creative, engaging retail. If Rough Trade had Spotify's investment, they'd expand nationwide and internationally, generating profit for all AND please music lovers.

  • Comment number 14.

    Who cares, there was music before record companies and I am sure music will still be around after they are gone. It's hard to feel much sympathy for any of them. The record companies always come across as pure evil. The world wont be a worse place if music is done more for the just for the love of it. No need for the man anymore now we have the internet for distribution.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why does the BBC feature Spotify so much in news articles and not, for example, we7.com which is a British equivalent and much better (in my opinion)? Is it just that Spotify is better at marketing, or do they know someone at the BBC who is helping them?

  • Comment number 16.

    A limited free service seems fair enough - you can't get anything for nothing. I use Spotify (or We7) to check out CDs I'm thinking of buying - as a result I now spend a lot more on CDs than I did before they came along. However I refuse to pay money for poor quality MP3 files - the music industry needs to improve the quality of files for download.

  • Comment number 17.

    This has been an issue ever since music began streaming. It was just a matter of time until it happened to someone popular. The problem being that you don't own the music you're listening nor do you have it in your local collection so you're essentially stuck - it's either go back to piracy, stream somewhere else or pay for it.

    It seems to be ingrained into the culture of young people in particular that music is free and it always will be whereas of course someone has to pay. It's not going to be the record companies, they'll find a crafty workaround and it will be the new artist that pays. In turn this will mean they seek new methods of gaining fame and in this decade that's been the X-Factor and reality tv. Surely that's enough to make people buy music again. Record companies need to do their bit though and make music cheaper to get legally.

    There are people out there, like myself, who are willing to pay a reasonable price (~£12 max) for music as long as it is of sufficient quality in both bitrate and style whether that's flac downloads or CDs or vinyl.

    Essentially the moral of the story is pay for your music but be sure to make sure it's stored locally and backed up. You'll thank yourself later when something like this happens again

  • Comment number 18.

    Post 16 - Fully agree (except I don't use We7, I tend to use youtube)

  • Comment number 19.

    A lot of this is about investment or lack of into a global business.
    I think we forget the record industry was built on wealthy well connected individuals that were able to sell the products at high profits while signing artists on deals that were never in the artists favour. Entrepreneurial in most cases doing things that hadnt been thought of. Same in the history of the cinema systems. Distribution and control of the artists enable high profits for those in charge. I watched all the record companies merge and acquire each others assets at the end of Vinyl, when there was no use for the pressing plants almost all of the uks cd production went to europe. Now the cinemas are well ahead of the game with most cinemas receiving new films over the internet, i wonder if the extra profits are filtered to the correct places.. If the records executives were thinking about their business rather than basking in the glory of the 80s profits they would have prepared much better for the digital music revolution in the early 90s. They were being bought by cd producing manufacturing companies again ensuring profits for the well connected marketing and distribution channels. The the mp3 seemed to surprise the industry again they didnt think of the artists rights of copy again someone was making a fortune while everyone changed the cd player for a mp3 player.. Some very well known companies thought if they didnt think about internet music it it wouldn't come. It is as easy as it has ever been to find media to enjoy of what ever kind you like. Perhaps we do not need the middle men any more for musicians to be able to earn a decent living from digital music. The youth of today are just far too well informed to need the help of some 40 somethings that did so well in the early 90s they have forgotten about reality.....
    Im no way agreeing with pirating or unlawful copying.
    It has really put the spotlight on an industry that has drastically changed in the 10 years. With people like apple and microsoft starting to sell music online and other indy companies bending the rules at the same time, which in turn get bought out by the big boys. Again mixing the hardware with the software to ensure profits.
    I just hope that logic wins and people are paid properly for the work they have completed and that the online providers dont just take on the role of the old record companies and take away the earning rights of the poor honest musician.
    There will be far more industries affected by the digital revolution.
    Its moving so fast its almost impossible to foresee the changes its bringing.
    Unfortunately there may be a need for more policing on the web to ensure the IP rights and earnings of artists and creatives remain intact.

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh I hate people who come back with that old chestnut "I'll just go back to downloading then"!

    Why start throwing your toys out the pram when it dawns that your free ride is coming to an end.

    The music industry probably doesn't need people like you anway because you'll never buy and are looking for freebies all the time - so where's the loss? There isn't one!

  • Comment number 21.

    I have been using Spotify for some time, & have also been paying for it too. I went from free to paid because of the ability to use it on my mobile phone. This means I can take whatever music I like with me whenever I want, no need to think about what I am going to listen to when I set off of a morning.

    Spotify has a stunning range of tracks, including classical & comedy (Will Hay & Bernard Miles are two of the recent joys I have discovered on this service). I am part of the generation who bought all their music on vinyl, & was then told CD's were better (so buy it again), the same with VHS to DVD & now Blu Ray. If Spotify had been around when I was younger I would have saved a fortune over the cost of purchasing music, & quite frankly for the convenience & quality £10 a month is a bargain.

    I have looked at legal downloads, but quite frankly I do not see the point for paying for something etherial which I have to use my own bandwith to download, when quite often I can find the same physical item in the music store sale for less.

    As someone who works in the entertainment industry I believe everyone has a right to make a living out of the products which they produce, however the consumer also has a right to enjoy the products which they have purchased in the way they choose & that the music industry really needs to get with the 21st century & stop looking back to the days when we were all taping our 45rpm's onto a C60 TDK.

  • Comment number 22.

    The responses here seem to cover a range of opinions, but they all proceed from the same fundamental assumption: that someone (not necessarily the musician) should be 'paid' for the music the musician produces. Some artists work primarily to move people to think and feel, with profit being a secondary consideration.

    Many emerging bands simply make their first album, or mixtape, a free download from their website-- a strategy to increase exposure, of course, but it's indicative of the change in thinking that needs to be done if capitalists wish to remonetize music.

    I download music illegally all the time. I consider it my duty, since as the great Dr Martin Luther King put it, we have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. The money artists make from cd sales and legal downloads ranges from insulting to negligible. If you look online how much of the 79p a song costs on iTunes goes to the artist, you'll see what I mean. (More progressive online stores claim to give at least 50% to the artist).

    If you want your favourite artist to make money, go to their shows or buy their merch. More intelligent artists will market their music in ways that actually attempt to justify the price tag, rather than just claim you should pay for something that's available for free or you'll get arrested.

    I think Stewart Lee put it best: he said Michael McIntyre was very rich because of the intelligence of his fans- they would happily pay every time he put a new DVD out. Stewart Lee himself is not rich, because his fans were capable of typing 'stewart lee torrent' into a search engine when his new DVD came out. What does he do with this problem? Use it to make a new joke.

    Anyone still harping on about how 'young people must learn to pay' or how file sharing is tantamount to stealing should probably ask themselves what they enjoy most: the art they pay for, or the act of paying for it.

  • Comment number 23.

    @22

    Some artists don't want to spend time worrying about the merchandise, or how they market their music - they want to focus on the art itself. That's why we should be prepared to pay, and it's also why there will always be middle-men.

    I'm not defending the record industry - their obsession with squeezing every last penny from CD sales, and their refusal to foresee the inevitable rise of the transferrable digital file is what has led us to the present mess. But to pretend that musicians are all business geniuses who would prefer to do it all on their own is erroneous: all the professional musicians I know have accountants, most have agents, if they make a recording they do not do it themselves.

    Musicians need support services, and those support services need to be paid in one form or another. Musicians also need to pay mortgages, feed themselves and their families. Of course there are those very few at the top of the profession who will be successful regardless of the distribution model, but the vast majority need the recording industry to survive, and need us to pay for their music, via said recording industry.

    Those who think that musicians should both create wonderful music, and then manage the business of making money from it, have no idea either of the amount of time the creative process can take, nor of what very different mindsets these two exercises require.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am prepared to pay for music. But now I have a choice.

    Do I "risk" paying 10pounds per month for spotify, or buy a couple of mp3 albums per month.

    If I pay for Spotify, I can listen to all the music I want for the cost of 1 cd per month. But the risk is that I own non of it - and as we have seen with this announcement, the music labels could then take artists off spotify, I am left with nothing. Do I trust this not to happen - I did, because I used to think Spotify would become ubiqitious (given time) and the default way we all listened to music, but now I am not so sure. At least if I go back to buying mp3s nothing can stop me from owning them.

    So do I invest in Spotify, or my own collection?

  • Comment number 25.

    Meh. I tried out Spotify for a half-hour or so, frankly didn't think much of it, haven't been back. Then again, I still buy CDs... ;-)

  • Comment number 26.

    The industry has lost out because they have lost control of distribution. When they had that, they could control the master copies of artist recordings, the timing of release and promotion. They will have to learn that they are not going to get control of that distribution back - so will have to completely reconsider how they operate if they are to survive. Who are the money makers now? LiveNation seem to be doing OK because they have realised that distribution of recorded music no longer makes money.

    As for Spotify - I think it probably had no choice. There is no way it could sustain its business model (and breadth of music offering) by ad supported means alone. Commercial radio has already learned this by getting sponsorships for shows and restricting playlists to target audiences (which advertisers like) - think ClassicFM or broad MOR appeal such as Real Radio.

  • Comment number 27.

    The sooner musicians stop seeing music as an "industry" and more of a hobby or a pasttime the better. The Major Label Revolution in the 70s and 80s and 90s allowed many musicians to become millionaires, sure, but to treat this massive cashflow as some kind of right to be protected is a big mistake. It was a good thing while it lasted, but it's over.

    Most people have moved beyond paying for CDs now. Some still pay for downloads from iTunes etc but the royalties from an iTunes #1 track aren't really enough to buy a Ferrari with. Musicians actually have to work for their money these days by putting on concerts, festival appearances and so on.

    The music business has changed, which is a good thing. The fewer Interscopes, Sony Musics, EMIs and Simon Cowells there are in the world the better in my opinion.

  • Comment number 28.

    One thing - wouldn't they make more money if they had more ads that wasn't just about spotify? They should have a 1 minute ad of that Jonathon fella when you start music for the day, then spend the rest of it on coke etc, that would make money. I swear 90% of the ads are about spotify, and Jonathon can say what he wants but I'm not gonna give him any money.

  • Comment number 29.

    @22

    Maybe it's because Michael McIntyre is funnier than Stewart Lee or has a greater appeal? His 'joke' sounds a bit like sour grapes to me. It would be interesting to see figures on which was most downloaded.

  • Comment number 30.

    As a record producer, I mix in the worlds of both artists and the industry. The public tend to picture the music industry as money-grabbing and exploitative, and as some large, pointless corporation that just sucks money out of a system that could operate just as well without it. I've no doubt that some people within the industry have and continue to abuse their positions to their own advantage but personally I happen to know good people who work for record companies who really care about the bands and the music they're promoting and work tirelessly for them.

    I also know from experience that musicians like myself need an industry around them to make it. Bands could not hope to organise tours, record albums, promote themselves, grow a fanbase, look after their money and all the other myriad jobs that need doing to be a successful artist without managers, administrators, promoters, producers, etc. I know many bands who are very successful at doing all this on a small scale, but there is a point where doing everything in-house becomes self-limiting.

    To me, the idea that you can throw the music industry away and continue to enjoy great quality art as some here seem to suggest, is a little naive, and perhaps even disrespectful of many people whose unseen efforts have brought so much to our lives in the form of musical entertainment.

    In future, I believe music lovers will have to be reminded again that music should cost something. I firmly believe that we enjoy music more when we have invested something in it, and for that reason alone I will buy records once I've had an initial listen on spotify, simply because I know it will increase my desire to listen to the music, and will make me listen harder and more attentively.

    In some ways, I'd like to see musicians fight their corner a little bit harder. Although the musicians I know would rather be on a stage than sat round a board room table, so perhaps the playing field will never truly be level...or perhaps it's just not all about money for them anyway...

  • Comment number 31.

    Youtube has most of the music for free anyway so there is no loss to users looking for music without paying.

  • Comment number 32.

    I still buy CDs. I want to own the track so I can listen to it when I like, without interference, and rewind so I can listen to the cool bits. I recently bought Within Temptation's The Unforgiven, and my next shall be Eurovision 2011. But sometimes I can't find a track, or it's on a CD out of print or one out of 50-odd. So I use the iTunes store. But I don't like it, because it's not something I can lock in a trunk, and I probably won't be able to play said tracks in 15 years' time when stuff happens, either updated computers or Apple's decisions. Yes it's cheap, but it's not permanent; I can't even save it to a blank CD to rescue it because Apple will go RRRARRGH STEALIN'.

    Bah. This music hogging on the part of the so-called labels sucks for the average user.

  • Comment number 33.

    @30 Very well put.
    There is a huge drive within the industry towards Direct-to-Fan marketing and selling. Services such as Bandcamp, ReverbNation, Topspin, Bandzoogle all facilitate a direct relationship with fans, allowing artists to control and customise their art to suit the people that want to buy it.

    Musicians have to realise that a one size fits all model (ie just putting out a CD) does not work anymore. There will be people that wont be prepared to spend anything all the way through to people that will be prepared to pay thousands of pounds for bespoke packages. Why not cater for all types of fans? Make available a song or two for free download, but also have a bundle that includes the free song, a CD, a T-Shirt, stickers, a signed photo, a backstage pass to an upcoming show and an opportunity to interview the band and charge £200. Make the bundles limited edition, and have three or four different levels. Although an American site, the average transaction on Topsin is $22, and I have seen sold out packages on Bandcamp with a $5,000 value.

    Yes not every band or artist will have access to fans that are prepared to spend thousands in a single transaction, but with the huge range of analytics and such at an artists disposal, deliver the products and services that people want, and then they will be happy to pay for them.

  • Comment number 34.

    Article mentions Limewire. Didn't know that was still around. Limewire caused a major computer crash in my house and I'd warn anyone to stay well away from it!

  • Comment number 35.

    To be quite frank, anyone who isn't prepared to spend £5/month in order to get the vast array of music available on Spotify is crackers. If you prefer CDs or, God forbid, iTunes, fair enough. Pirating music when subscriptions to Spotify (and similar services) are so cheap is absolutely absurd.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm a premium Spotify user and was happy with the service until I discovered that despite paying my £10/month, Spotify was also helping themselves to 10% of my hard drive and approx 50% of my ADSL line's upload capacity, causing my connection to dramatically slow down. My ISP told me that they saw 0.5GB upload down my line in one day!

    It took some time to work this out and there is no way to switch it off though it can be limited to 1GB cache capacity in settings, and a web search will reveal more that you can do. Spotify does it to save on their server costs. Maybe ok for the free service as long as they are up front and honest, but not OK for a 'premium' service.

    This is why many universities ban Spotify because it clogs up the network.

    I'll probably go back to Napster (£5/month with 5 free downloads/month - free service with no ads if you remember to make the downloads!) though the streaming is only 128k.

  • Comment number 37.

    Over the past few years, I've averaged about 150 CD sales a year - you can safely assume that I'm very, very, niche.

    The economics of the entertainment industry, as we know it stem from an era when content creation was specialised, distribution was risky, production had high marginal cost, and the only marketing options were "mass-market blanked exposure."

    Which of those are now true?

    - There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of musicians releasing their own music regularly. You can create, on a £1,000 computer, music that would, even 10 years ago, have taken a professional studio. (Hell, if you have time, you can probably do it on a £400 computer as well.)

    - Distribution isn't about shipping pieces of plastic any more - it's about shipping bits. Bandwidth is cheap, and falling in price by about 25% a year. The bandwidth required to ship an album costs maybe a penny?

    - Production of copies, these days, basically involves finding a hosting company... or using an existing sharing service. While there might be a cost, there's little financial risk - renting space on a web server for 6 months is nothing like as expensive as mastering a couple of thousand copies of a CD, let alone vinyl.

    - The Internet has, likewise, transformed marketing... however, the old fashioned approach of playing in pubs and clubs (it worked for the Beatles!) is still a good way to get exposure.

    The music industry is a 20th Century construct that evolved to meet a particular environment and set of constraints. Those constraints no longer exist.

    Music is always going to be a "Power Law / Long Tail" thing - with a tiny number of artists getting the vast majority of the exposure.

    Quiz question - name two composers who were born in the second half of the 17th Century - you are NOT allowed to say J.S.Bach or Handel - yup, the Baroque era had its own Rock Stars...

    What changed between the 18th and 20th Centuries is the way that Musicians expected to get paid. Bach and Handel expected to find a small number of wealth patrons. The Beatles managed to find a large number of fans who would be £10-100 every so often.

    The Supergroups of the 2020s had better expect to find 1,000,000,000 fans who will pay them a penny a week each (or listen to advertisers who will do so)... THAT is what the "industry" will look like, and that's not something that I see any of the major Record Companies geared up for.

    In fact, the best "record companies" I see currently positioned for the 21st Century are Apple and Google... with iTunes being in Audio, and YouTube being in Video... and paid by the two different models - direct charge and adverts respectively.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm a massive Spotify fan and to see further restrictions on their 'free' user will only dissuade people from using their service and sites such as Limewire and ripping songs off youtube could easily become more popular.

  • Comment number 39.

    As someone put it to me, "the guy whose bonus still depends on CD sales is cutting up rough".

    The guy that is still in a job where the amount he is paid is dependant on CD sales, in this day and age where where downloads, illegal or legal, are the way forward, is an idiot.

    I'm frankly surprised that 15% of spotify users are paying, and that it isn't a lot less. If the record companies force people away from Spotify, there will be another service that is less beneficial for them...

    I know many people that when getting ready to go out, will play music on youtube. And there are so many new websites that let you DJ with youtube.

    Spotify is a great service, I think the music labels need to find out a way to use it to it's advantage, rather than push people away from it... towards illegal downloading.

  • Comment number 40.

    I think for a lot of people, it's not an issue of wanting a free ride, but being offered a free ride, then half way through being told to pay up or basically get off. I had considered upgrading before, but I'm definitely not considering it now. I think spotify will ultimately lose out from this, because so many will drop it. It was a beautiful thing while it lasted, shame it had to end.

  • Comment number 41.

    I feel that the record industry have a very short sighted view over streaming sites like spotify. As a CD buyer and not a downloader of music, I often use spotify to test out albums and on a regular basis end buy the CD elsewhere. If you consider my use of spotify I would fall into the bracket of a freeloader, when that is not the case.

  • Comment number 42.

    Whilst in my younger days I spent a lot of money on music and if a streaming subscription had been an option at the time, I might have justified it. However now I am old I am no longer in the market for new music. I would hate to be stuck still paying a monthly fee to listen to stuff of my youth. I would therefore suggestion to people considering paying for Spotify to check out Napster. Its only £5.00 per month and you get to keep 5 songs per month, which would allow you to stop subscribing once you had built a good collection.

  • Comment number 43.

    The sound you hear are the voices of millions of Europeans crying out 'oh no, now we'll have to go back to the pirate bay' ;)

  • Comment number 44.

    I have been trying out grooveshark since this announcement and it seems pretty good so far.

  • Comment number 45.

    Just pay the £9.99 a month for no ads/unlimited music. If you have an iPhone you can also listen to your playlists on the move. Worth every penny.

  • Comment number 46.

    I just pay £4.99 a month for unlimited music. It's nothing really, considering I never have to buy music from other sources. I'm actually saving money by using Spotify. Such a nice piece of software to use too. Who needs iTunes!?

  • Comment number 47.

    34. At 12:19pm 15th Apr 2011, Kate wrote:

    Article mentions Limewire. Didn't know that was still around. Limewire caused a major computer crash in my house and I'd warn anyone to stay well away from it!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    A foolish computer user caused the crash. Not Limewire.

    Anyway, I am both a Spotify and Last.fm premium user, I think it is perfectly reasonable to pay 10 pounds a month to enable me to find pretty much any music I want to listen to.

    I have often wondered why musicians feel that their creations should earn them incomes in the millions of pounds, who decided that this particular career, which they claim they do for the love of music, should be so financially rewarding. Would they stop creating music and go work in an office if their musical career could only earn them 30K a year?

    If people are getting a perfectly handsome income, paid for by the approximately £0.01 per track play which for a popular artist could be 100s of millions of track plays a year, then who are they to complain they are not being rewarded enough.

    As for record companies, do they seriously think that users who play music on Spotify for free will suddenly rush out and start purchasing albums the moment their listening habits are restricted? Of course not, the companies were finally getting paid on behalf of consumers who previously stole their content. Seems like a serious own-goal.

  • Comment number 48.

    There will never be a way to regulate music sales online, record companies need to adapt or become victims of evolution.

  • Comment number 49.

    I don't mind paying for good new music. But I absolutely refuse to pay again for music I already purchased, just because the format has changed. In my lifetime I've seen formats go from vinyl to cassette to CD to Minidisc to MP3. And yet rerecording my own purchases, just so I can continue to listen to it, is apparently an act of piracy! Maybe instead of trying to sell me a new format, milking the last drop out of a dying cow, the music industry should sell me a 'license to listen' that's valid for life, regardless of future changes in format...

  • Comment number 50.

    Listening to music on youtube ???? is that what hifi has come to !, Spotify is fantastic value for money, the ability to take your music with you for £9.99 on 3 different device, phone, ipod touch etc, etc, is a killer feature, I'd pay £10 per month to avoid itunes on windows. £5 is a couple of coffees, come on guys nothing is for nothing

  • Comment number 51.

    MinisterOfDuckHousing = Spot on.

    The music industry are living in the past if they think that this sort of decision will do anything but lose them profits in the long run.

  • Comment number 52.

    Spotify should be more inventive, and listen to why people don't want to pay. They should provide a proper service, with 3 simple pricing plans:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    1. Free - pay nothing, get ads and a very restrictive cap. Or maybe loads of ads and a bigger cap.

    2. Buy an album (or two) through Spotify - get access to unlimited streaming for a month, maybe with a few ads. Or buy an album and pay an extra £2 for a month's streaming.

    3. Pay a subscription fee - get access to unlimited streaming, mobile, and access to store your own music in the cloud, to do what Amazon do. Pay more for extra storage.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    For the record companies: freebies are restricted, download sales are stimulated, users can use this cloud service and try to kill Amazon's which has licensing issues.

    For Spotify: they have the most comprehensive music service on the web. Truly the one stop shop for music services.

    For users: huge chunks of the userbase are still happy, and the download market becomes more competitive. Plan 2 is the really good one here, you still get the great service while being able to build up your own music collection, so if Spotify goes bust, the life plan to just subscribe and not buy doesn't go belly up. People keep buying, because they keep finding new music, and keep wanting the service.

    Surely this is a no brainer - everyone wins!

  • Comment number 53.

    I love spotify mainly because the playlist feature, which is great , that is why I dislike youtube and last fm as there is no playlist feature, however these new rules for spotify are going to ruin spotify's chance of becoming a reputable company for free music. So I decided to test out we7 and it s really good it has good songs and also( thank god) has a playlist feature, the only draw back is that some songs you can't hear fully , as it isn't allowed in your postcode.

  • Comment number 54.

    @33 Precisely. This is the way I see the music industry moving even further towards. Bandcamp for instance has: a clean, easy to use interface; simple payment system; reasonably priced music (set by the artist); format choice; only charges 15% to artists and as you mentioned has packages.

    In line with 30 said; yes some musicians do need extra services, but surely these are sometimes overpriced? I like to think that if a musicians music is good and popular they will create a market for their music. They may still need help, and this can be paid for, but if music just sells because it has been advertised to death, then I don't think it really deserves to sell.

  • Comment number 55.

    I predict that this is the point where things will start to go wrong for Spotify...

    It has betrayed the people that made it popular by bowing to pressure from the industry and settling with a compromise making it no different to any other paid streaming service out there - for the same price (currently £4.99 a month) I can get a Napster subscription with 5 inclusive MP3 downloads per month, browser integration and a larger catalogue too.

    So what does Spotify have to offer that others don't? I've just actually gone back to Napster after leaving them a few years ago to Spotify...I feel I may not be the only one.

    Unless there are considerable changes to their service I'll give it two years before it Spotify disappears. Shame.

  • Comment number 56.

    I pay for Spotify Premium.... It's £10 a month for unlimited, synced, offline and mobile music. I can't even buy one archaic CD album for that. Have they not considered that in the age of the iPod, NO ONE WANTS TO BUY A STUPID CD!

    Music labels should embrace services like Spotify i.e. increase sales and revenue via rivalry or start their own services doing the same thing.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ James

    I do sometimes like to buy CDs. Admittedly this is almost exclusively if they are one of my favourite artists, but I do sometimes take a risk. I know I'm among the few when it comes to this (we do exist though!) and subscriptions reduce much of the risk. The things is I like knowing that when I buy a CD, that it is not worth the effort for any record company to decide to take it away from me. This isn't my main reason, but it is the most relevant here.

    As for other subscription services; there are a few others out there. Napster (though the quality is pretty bad =S); We7 (pretty bad interface) and Zune Pass (which allows you to keep 10 tracks per month). Still, Spotify is a good deal. I don't know if I want to continually pay for music though. Sometimes I never listen to any of "my" music for long periods of time.

  • Comment number 58.

    Yes music costs a lot to produce, but mainly thanks to now unnecsesary middlemen that are no longer needed. Like the town criers and elevator drivers they should all find another job, They are no longer needed!!! Also, if Metallica and Puff Daddy need to settle for chrome instead of platinum taps and drive a nice Volvo like the rest of us then so what?
    Spotify (and the like) was basically their last chance, now everyone will go back to pirating songs.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think it is stupid. The only reason spotify was a success was because of the free users passing it along.

    Tell me why can't adverts cover the cost? YouTube which costs billions to run uses ads to generate it's revenue, why can't spotify?

    We're not getting the music for free we're listening to it for free, like we do on the radio. If we downloaded the music then the record labels have a case but since we don't they arn't loosing anything. They get sales from iTunes, We7 and Amazon. So tell me how they are losing out?

    I've been using spotify since I first heard about it on BBC click and come May 1st I'll be uninstalling it and closing my account. I am not going to use spotify if I am going to be pressured into paying for it, nor do I want to me limited to how much music I can listen too.

    I recommend that people use Grooveshark which is free without that many limits.

  • Comment number 60.

    I only use Spotify to have a listen to an album to see if I might buy it anyway so it really doesn't bother me - the cap is not that restrictive. 5 listens to an album is surely enough to decide if you like an album, and then buy it so you're not splitting the profits with yet more middlemen!

    The cost of albums is far too high. If I can buy the CD for £5 why should the cost of an MP£ be £8?!

  • Comment number 61.

    In the 1960's and '70's, the American band, The Grateful Dead, allowed fans to tape record their shows, to the extent that the band provided feeds from the mixing board for tape machines. The Dead made millions, the Deadheads were happy and started a whole culture of tape sharing.
    This illustrates quite clearly, that there are other valid business models, besides the desperate, cut-throat scrabble for profits.
    The Internet and digital technology are creating a whole new paradigm, not just in art and entertainment, but across the board. The times they are 'changing; and the music industry is clinging to the past with outmoded ideologies that are impeding progress. Get with the program guys, relax and the let the music flow.

  • Comment number 62.

    Common sense would dictate that your business model cannot be 'free' forever. So it makes sense for them to limit the number of songs 'freeloaders' can access a month. If the freeloader wants the full shabang then he/she must upgrade to full membership. Simples:)

  • Comment number 63.

    This infographic sums up the problem with streaming services (and the music idustry generally) - http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/how-much-do-music-artists-earn-online/

  • Comment number 64.

    About time. All these people complaining need to realise the music industry is a two way exchange, we can't just expect to 'take take take' and give nothing in return.

    Have been a Spotify Premium user for a long time and highly recommend it. I'm a student with a part time job and can afford the tenner a month (or fiver if you don't want the mobile version) so money shouldn't be an issue for many, especially seeing how you can afford the laptop/desktop you're streaming it on.

    Happy to hear Spotify is making steps towards protecting interests in the music business, who without them, we wouldn't even have a service to enjoy, nor a back catalogue as extensive and as rich as the one Spotify offers.

  • Comment number 65.

    Spotify killed Music Piracy!

    And now they have brought back Piracy!

    I used to sail the wild sea's of the Internet flying my skull & crossbones for a good 16 years before I found Spotify Island and have been docked in their port ever since.

    But looks like the Ocean's calling again & i'll have to dust off my Peg leg & tricorn hat in search for bounty.

    AArrrr!

 

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