The music streaming business just got a whole lot more competitive. According to CNET, Spotify is finally launching ad-supported streaming for smartphones and tablets. Previously, the app was only accessible to premium members, but now everyone can listen to Spotify’s enormous library on their mobile devices. With Pandora holding strong as the leader in the field, and Apple trying to lure users back to its own homegrown service, the freemium move could give Spotify a major edge. There is a small catch: although the tablet app is nearly identical to the desktop app, free users will not be able to search for individual songs. Instead, Spotify Shuffle (as the company has named it) will give you the ability to shuffle through artist playlists, preset playlists or playlists you have created yourself. The new mobile service will be available starting on Wednesday.
Spotify is apparently interested in expanding its mobile music services by offering users free (ad-supported) on-demand access to streaming music. The company’s current offer lets users stream unlimited music on their smartphones and tablets from a catalog of over 20 million tracks for $10 per month, or stream Pandora-like radio with ads for free. According to The Wall Street Journal, Spotify has inked deals with Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group for an enhancement to its ad-based services that will allow on-demand music streaming. More →
Spotify has always been a double-edged sword for artists. Streaming music is a gargantuan business and one of the best ways to quickly attract an audience, but the pay rates are minuscule for all but the biggest acts on most services. Some artists have even publicly condemned Spotify, but up until now the company has never released official numbers to back up its claims that it shares an appropriate portion of its profit with the musicians that populate the service. More →
Despite stiff competition from other popular music streaming services, Spotify has held its own since its release in 2008. The Wall Street Journal reports that Spotify raised $250 million in its latest round of funding, bringing the total value of the company above $4 billion. Spotify made a splash when it came stateside in 2011, but has continued to grow ever since, now reaching 32 markets. According to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek, the conversion rate from free to paying subscribers is relatively large, a vital aspect of the service’s continued success. Despite its slightly lower valuation, Spotify managed to generate more revenue last year than Pandora. The new trend for billion dollar companies, going public, is something Ek doesn’t spend much time dwelling on. “If we think that the goal is better aligned by going public, sure we’ll contemplate it,” said Ek.
The impact of Spotify on artists has been a hot topic in the past year. Another grim new data point comes from Finland, where one of the most popular artists of the country has released detailed statistics about his streaming royalties. “Levoton tyttö” was one of the biggest summer songs in Finland, topping 1 million Spotify plays by June. The artist, Anssi Kela, received precisely €2,336.90 (USD $3,159.72) in royalties for his blockbuster song. That is the consolidated number from all streaming services, though Spotify dominates the Nordic region. More →
Tango and Spotify are kicking off a collaboration aimed at offering a new music sharing opportunity for Tango messaging app users. Anyone using Tango can get access to 30 second clips of any Spotify song — and then share them with their friends. People can access full-length songs via the music service. Spotify has 24 million active users and according to Tango’s Eric Setton, the company’s messaging app has now hit 60 million monthly active users globally. More →
In some ways, Sweden is the chilly laboratory of the global music industry. The local hero, Spotify, took over the country already at the end of 2011 as the cool animation by Digital Music News demonstrates. In 2009, streaming music was just 7% of music sales in Sweden. In 2013. streaming had exploded to 70% of the entire music industry sales. As the streaming revolution took off, something curious happened in Sweden: National music sales started growing robustly again, from $150 million in 2012 to nearly $170 million in 2013. More →
Artists may like griping about subscription-based music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, but they appear to be doing a lot to kill off music piracy. TorrentFreak reports that music piracy in Norway has completely fallen off a cliff, as data from Ipsos shows that Norwegian Internet users pirated just 210 million songs in 2012, down from 1.2 billion in 2008. The survey also shows that roughly 47% of Norwegian Internet users say that they now subscribe to a music streaming service such as Spotify, and that more than half of those subscribers pay for a premium option. Or put another way, it seems as though opening up more avenues for people to pay for music will decrease their willingness to pirate copyrighted material.
New licensing agreements with Google Play, Microsoft (MSFT) and other services helped musicians generate more royalties in the U.K. from digital music services than radio for the first time last year, The Guardian reported. Songwriters earned a total of £51.7 million in the U.K. (roughly $77.7 million USD) in digital royalties, an increase of 32.2% from £39.1 million in 2011. Digital music services are now the single biggest source of income for musicians in the U.K., surpassing radio and live events. Online licensing revenues have doubled in the county since the arrival of download and streaming services such as Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes Store and Spotify in 2008.
Spotify is reportedly planning a major change that will put it in direct competition with Netflix (NFLX) and other video streaming services. According to Business Insider, the on-demand music service is interested in expanding to become an on-demand video service alongside its music offerings. Spotify is also said to be looking for partners that will help it fund and create exclusive content such as original TV series, similar to how Netflix has found success in producing its own content with its hit show House of Cards. Spotify is used by more than 20 million people, and has over 1 million paid subscribers in the U.S. and more than 5 million worldwide.
Amazon (AMZN) is the latest company rumored to be prepping a subscription music service, according to The Verge. Although the streaming music business has not yet proven to be all that profitable, a number of companies have expressed interest in joining a growing field of services. Amazon already offers a robust music store with features such as cloud music storage and a Cloud Player, however the company has reportedly reached out to various music companies about the idea of starting an “on-demand” subscription music service similar to Spotify. Earlier reports have indicated that Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) are also in talks with record labels to launch competing music streaming services.
A new study published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has found that illegal downloading doesn’t hurt the music industry. After examining the browsing habits of more than 16,000 Europeans, the research showed that there is actually a positive link between online piracy and visits to legal music stores — so rather than negatively impacting digital revenues, researchers found that music sales can actually benefit from piracy. More →
We had the opportunity to tour the Ford booth on Tuesday at Mobile World Congress, and were treated to a first-hand walk-through of the newest version of the company’s Sync in-car media and voice command technology. Chief among the new features is Spotify integration, giving subscribers ubiquitous access to the streaming music service by way of a few simple voice commands. More →