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iSpotify – Digital Music’s New Killer App

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Ok, so the iPhone may soon get another cool App in Spotify, but really, what’s the big deal? Is it likely that streamed music may turn out to be that most elusive, but sorely needed, game changer in the world of online / digital music?

Music streaming is certainly well positioned to become that bridge between the old (i.e. analogue radio broadcasting) and new (on-demand, digital media streaming) world of music dissemination; and without a single “download” in sight. This last aspect addresses that old stumbling block for innovative music download services (i.e. file sharing –because you can’t share what is essentially a transient file stream).

Spotify is an online music streaming service that is fast becoming a de-facto standard for on-demand music, and given the amount of its current media coverage, one would be forgiven for assuming that the game is over, especially when:

  1. Apple has reportedly given its approval, finally, for an iPhone App from Spotify
  2. Recent reports of additional investment from the likes of music labels and mobile telephony moguls appear to indicate a high level of interest from both the music and mobile industries, and that perhaps licensing negotiations might be somewhat less onerous for Spotify
  3. Spotify is also reported to be in talks regarding a version for pubs, bars and other public venues, which would mean public performance licensing and additional revenue for rights owners.
  4. The quality and responsiveness of the application, over a broadband connection, is certainly good enough for most purposes (and this blogger is now a ‘Spotifan’ – obviously)
  5. Finally, the UK Government has proposed tackling the problem of illegal file-sharing by cutting the Internet access of repeat offenders, a move which could be beneficial for less risky, free ad-supported streaming services like Spotify

The above developments signal a serious move towards placing Spotify, (and other streaming services), as the saviours of digital music. However, there are still a couple of issues to be resolved before it can be crowned as such. For example, Spotify is currently only available in a handful of European countries (e.g. UK, France and Spain, etc.), but it is hoping to expand into the lucrative US in the near term. Secondly, the free or ad-funded model can only go so far in a crowded market (competitors include We7, Rhapsody, Last.fm and Pandora). Finally, it is only a matter of time before those intrepid freetards among us figure a way to capture even transient streamed music, but that remains to be seen. So there you have it, a seemingly viable model for the future of music which sees streaming and mobility taking center stage. This could be fun to watch.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

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