Spotify promises 'massive' revamp

Spotify screengrab

Spotify has announced big changes which will allow users to share music with one another in what it claims is one of the biggest shake ups to the music streaming service since it launched in late 2008.

In a move towards social networking, it's aiming to let users swap and share music tracks as well as allowing them to check out what their friends are listening to.

Speaking to Newsbeat, founder and CEO Daniel Ek explained how his engineers have been working on the revamp for the last six months.

He said: "We're marrying the best bits of Facebook and we're marrying the best bits of iTunes and we've moved them in to Spotify."

On the new-look service users will be able to import their friends from Facebook and their songs from iTunes.

Then it lets them share any tracks they own with their friends by playing them direct from Spotify as well as seeing what songs their mates are listening to.

'Massive step'

But Mr Ek says there's much more to it that just being an easier way to listen to your friend's music collection.

"I think this is a massive step towards the next generation music industry where it's about access to music and not about ownership any more," he said.

Spotify screengrab
The new service will offer a news feed similar to the one on Facebook

"What this means is that you can actually discover your friends' music collection, you can browse it. It's almost like going back to the record shop or being at your friend's house.

"At the same time you can create play lists which are like mix tapes used to be 20 years ago, so you can actually do this super-fast."

An automatic update will roll out from today and will be offered to each of Spotify's 7 million European users over the next week or so.

This comes just two months after the head of one of the biggest music labels in the world said websites that offer free music streaming, like Spotify, Last.fm and We7, aren't the way forward for the industry.

'Not positive'

Edgar Bronfman is the Chief Executive of Warner Music, which is home to bands like Muse and Jay-Z, and described free streaming services as "clearly not positive for industry".

He said: "The 'get all your music for free and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price' strategy is not the kind of business approach we will be supporting in the future."

But it's not just Spotify that disagrees with this opinion.

Last.fm says music fans are already using multiple services, including free streaming, to listen to their favourite tracks.

Steve Purdham is Chief Executive of We7. He said their web based service "lets you share you music via Twitter, email, web pages, Bebo and Facebook".

He added: "Streaming is the future of music listening and in my view there will be 3 base economic models, paid per track, subscription and ad funded.

"The key is to make sure that artists get paid a fair and reasonable value for each song played".

This revamp won't change the existing service or the fundamental way Spotify works.

Users will still have the option of listening for free with adverts every 12 to 15 minutes or paying a £10 subscription every month for the ad free version.

Latest figures show that less than 5% of the people who use it (around 320,000) choose to pay for this premium service.

But how well the changes work will depend on how many users engage with the new aspects of it.

So its success does, in part, depend on enough people liking what Spotify is offering.

Something Mr Ek reckons will happen quickly and in large numbers.

He said: "I definitely think that this is the right step business wise, but also from a user perspective, which is what we're all about, creating a win win."