Is Spotify too friendly with Facebook?

Daniel Ek Spotify was launched in October 2008

Last week the music streaming service Spotify got the kind of endorsement money can't buy. At Facebook's F8 event, Spotify's founder Daniel Ek was invited to share the stage with Mark Zuckerberg, and explain just how "awesome" it was going to be to share your music tastes with your friends.

That privilege was not extended to Facebook's other music partners, and it looked at first as though this was a deal which offered a lot more to the European start-up than to the social network.

Now though it is becoming clear that there may have been a price to pay, with Spotify apparently tying its whole future to Facebook. The risk is that this will alienate its existing customers who are already up in arms about one aspect of the deal.

If you go and try to sign up now you will find that a condition of joining Spotify is that you are also a member of Facebook. The argument is that it's all part of the "deep integration" between the two services and users will become addicted to sharing in a seamless way their music listening habits.

Now you would imagine that there would be an almost perfect overlap between the 800 million strong Facebook crowd and the kind of people who might be interested in a streaming service. Nevertheless the reaction from many fans of the music firm has been a mixture of shock, surprise and an almost tearful rage.

Here's a selection of messages I received when I asked my Twitter followers about the new policy:

"I think I'll probably close my account."

The updates were announced at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference

"It's ridiculous - why would a social site insist you have another social account to use it?"

"Spotify were like the innocent of the internet, then in a parallel move they sold out to Coca Cola."

"It is utter madness."

A lot of this appears emotional rather than strictly logical. After all, if you're already on Spotify you won't need to sign up to Facebook - or link your account to it. I put that to one user, who said it was a matter of principle - nobody should be forced to use Facebook to get access to Spotify.

And, just like the Facebook users who accuse the network of selling out to big business, a lot of the anger seems to come from those who appear bemused by the idea that an internet firm would actually need to make money.

Spotify has tried to explain the move by asking users to "think of it as like a virtual 'passport', designed to make the experience smoother and easier, with one less username and password to remember."

Martin Lorentzon and Daniel Ek Founders Daniel Ek (L) and Martin Lorentzon (R)

But what is clear is that the whole idea of sharing your music tastes with the world - or "creating an amazing new world of music discovery" as the firm puts it - does not appeal to everyone. That I can understand - if you're relaxing with some cheesy 70s pop, do you really want your much cooler mates to know that?

Spotify's founder seems to realise he has a big PR problem on his hands. Daniel Ek has been busy on Twitter over the last 24 hours responding to complaints about the Facebook issue. Here he explains the strategy:

"We want to remove barrier to sign-up and create a more seamless experience. As we think our users are social."

But there is also a hint that the policy could be changed:

"We'll try lots of things, and probably screw up from time to time, but we value feedback and will make changes based on it."

My suspicion, however, is that Mr Ek is none too worried about the threat of desertion by those horrified at the Facebook integration.

A much bigger concern will be that too many people join his free service - now open to all those American Facebookers - get used to the idea of sharing friends' music on the social network and never get persuaded to upgrade to the paid offering.

Even given the minuscule licensing fees paid to artists each time a track is streamed, that could prove very expensive.

But Daniel Ek and his team should be satisfied with their work over the last few months. After all, Spotify's recent history, with new markets entered and fans rushing to condemn changes in the service, looks like a miniature version of what Facebook has gone through over the last few years.

Now, like a pilot fish attached to a great white shark, the smaller firm has entrusted its destiny to the social networking giant. It just has to hope that it can feed itself for a while - before it gets eaten.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    I have been a avid user of spotify ever since I saw it's appearence on BBC's Click. I spread it around to friends and family. Now I feel deeply dissapointed. Yet i have not connected it to facebook and never plan too, the moment I am forced to, I will have two words bye bye..

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    You guys do realise you can make it not post everything you play on spotify on facebook...

    Just find the post telling people what your listening to and click the arrow (or cross)... then choose one of the options...

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    UEFI Secure Boot - death to Linux - yeah!

    As for Spotify, although I realise that in the future none of us will own our music (or any media), we will only rent it, for now I will continue to buy my music via a download service. This move is geared towards tying you to Facebook and Spotify forever, therefore generating every increasing advertising revenues for both. Bah!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    There's an intent out there much more important than Facebook/Spotify. It's to gather data from social media outlets & news sources & feed relevant stuff to FRBNY (Fed. Reserve Bank - NY). This Request was created in an effort to support social Media LISTENING Platforms.
    So, watch whom you criticise.
    FRB intends to listen in on billions of conversations to determine your "sentiments".

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    "Now you would imagine that there would be an almost perfect overlap between the 800 million strong Facebook crowd and the kind of people who might be interested in a streaming service."

    You seem to be unaware that Spotify's library includes most classical music, as well as 'pop'. I can assure you that there is little overlap between the consumers of that content, and Facebook membership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Surely spotify's recent changes to free accounts was enough to get them generating more cash? Only being given 3 hours of listening time a month plus only being able to repeat a track 3 times is extremely limiting, it was enough to make me sign up to premium.

    Disappointed about the latest change, primarily as I dont want facebook as a company having more of my data.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    In the UK (to my limited knowledge) Spotify is the only service offering music streaming. Which makes this important.

    If FB is primary authentication service for Spotify, does anyone seriously believes any subscriber data is safe from the clutches of FB?

    I am *paying* for this service. With Money. Not with my data. But not for long as it seems... Any suggestions for an alternative service?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Spotify wants to be "next big thing in music"; service change has created quite the uproar: Users think they can only get their Spotify if they have a Facebook account. Of course, we knew this was in the works; but now that it's here, there's ample disdain. But why? Most spotifites are already on Facebook & rest assured, you don't have to connect your Spotify account to Facebook.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Daniel Ek is on the right and Martin Lorentzon is on the left.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Nice to see that Rory is back on form, reporting on social networking fluff instead of real issues (such as UEFI Secure Boot). So much more to report on. Via suing Apple. Microsoft releasing "Mango". The discovery of a severe vulnerability in SSL. HideMyAss coughing user details.

    But no, lets have another Facebook story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    With amazon mp3 offering new release albums of the week for £3.99 and many many fantastic offers I cancelled my spotify premium subscription months ago. Now I own the music I'm paying for, and can use it on the go without exceeding my mobile broadband limit, and I'm paying less than £9.99 a month for the same consumption!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    For those missing Dot Maggie, you can reminise by viewing her old posts here:

    or follow her on Twitter: @Maggieshiels

    She now works for Google.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Has technology moved on so far that if you want to listen to music and not have a choice about what it available and be interupted by adverts that you can no longer turn on the radio?

    This will benefit both Spotify and Facebook.
    Facebooks Timeline on the other hand will benfit no one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Having just seen what Spotify are doing by default with my privacy, I am seriously considering cancelling my premium subscription. I have deliberately opted not to join Facebook and will not have this foisted on me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I just denied access to Facebook within the Spotify app. This seems to have done the trick in terms of disconnecting the services. I guess you could also manage the Spotify app permissions from within Facebook. Of course this does not help users who do not have a Facebook account and have no intention of signing up for one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    wow people are getting really up in arms over this...

    10 seconds set up new email account
    10 seconds set up new face book account
    10 seconds set up spotify account

    30 seconds and you have an amazing completly free music service

    seriously cant get why everyone cant just chill out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    There's a rectangular, wooden device at the edge of the room - it's called a door. It leads outside, where there is a whole world full of more important and interesting things than Faceache and Spotify......


  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    - if you can delete your facebook account ! - this is another aspect of Mr Zucken-bgggr reeling in more people into his personal control. There is no such thing as "a free lunch". Facebook is a place for Mr Zbggr to experiment on you, for some purpose I do not know; maybe he simply likes the "Trueman Show"

    Try deleting your Facebook account, and then wonder where the delete button is hidden !

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    "UEFI secure boot."

    Ha-ha. Rory is a business journalist, not a techy. That's why virtually everything here is about the business affairs of technology companies, not actually about technology. There's no chance that he'd be capable of properly handling that story even if he realised why it was important in the first place. Which he won't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I was just about to sign up for a Spotify account but want nothing to do with Facebook. It is an intrusion on your privacy. I am so glad I spotted this article. I will not get involved with any company that forces you to use Facebook!


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