According to the official blog there are some major changes coming to everybody’s favorite music service, Spotify.
And the changes are not going to make many people happy, a maximum limit to play a track 5 times for free and 10 hours worth of free usage per month.
The reasons behind these changes are probably complex, in part driven through a desire to push more users to convert to paying members and in part by necessity simply to be able to pay the licensing fees.
Years of rampant piracy - and competing with free is hard - have accustomed people to the idea that listening to music should be free, and since people think about spotify as they do about a radio that idea gets re-inforced.
The blog writes that these changes will affect the ‘heavier users’ but 10 hours of play per month does not sound like a particularly heavy use to me, typically that’s less than two days of having your ‘radio’ on while you work for instance.
This is a pretty bold move and it could mean the end of the rapid growth that spotify has so far been able to sustain. Whether this move is out of free will or forced the effect will be substantial, for spotify I hope they have the ‘hook’ in solid enough that it will survive yanking around the fish this strongly.
When we switched from a ‘free’ to a ‘paid’ model our growth flatlined overnight, and for sure a lot has changed since 1998 but peoples’ mentality towards changing something that is free today to paid tomorrow surely hasn’t changed much at all.
The blog ends with “Above all, this means we can continue making Spotify available to all in the long-term.” which suggests this move is made out of need rather than of want and effectively that translates in to ‘an advertising supported free music service is not viable’.
I can’t help it but this really reminds me of Dalton Caldwell’s talk: http://jacquesmattheij.com/Dalton+Caldwell%2C+Imeem about imeem and how hard it is to do a music start-up.