Spotify Premium: is it worth the money?

After several months as a free Spotify user, the time has come to ask ‘Is the premium service worth it?’

As some visitors know, I’ve been a Spotify free-account user from the early days – since way, way back in December last year.  It’s turned out to be the perfect online form or radio station for me.  I’ve blogged about it enthusiastically and set up more than 400 new users from a steady stream of invites passed from Spotify HQ.

Update: Check out my review of Spotify Premium here

I describe the service in several ways: ‘the death of music ownership'; ‘iTunes as it was supposed to be'; ‘internet radio for the terminally lazy’ and so on.  What I’ve enjoyed most about Spotify is its perfect blend of ‘search’, ‘genre’ and ‘radio’ logic to create endless supplies of new experiences or sickly sweet meanderings down musical memory lane.

It’s internet usability that’s come of age – in the same way that the iPhone is the grown up version of mobile phoning.  Spotify – at present – is almost perfect.  Even the absence of the big, greedily-held catalogues (Pink Floyd, Beatles) is a plus.  Hey, I grew up gorged on that stuff.  It’s a breath of fresh air not to have it polluting the Spotify world.

But the big question is: how will Spotify monetise its service?  (Read: “will it survive so I can continue to enjoy it?”)

At present there are two models: an ad-supported free service and a £9.99 premium service.  Good news is that I’ve bought the ad-supported service 100%.  Great start Spotify, you’re more than half way there.  I’m fully on board.

Now what’s going to make me shell out the £9.99?  Err… nothing – except the desire to get rid of ads.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not hugely motivated by paying money for something to be taken away.  Unless it’s toothache or a tree in danger of falling on my house – in which case it becomes a grudge purchase.

Spotify – please take note.

The one thing that would make Spotify worth £9.99 to me is the ability to put mp3s on my iPhone / iPod.  That would fit in with my lifestyle rather than with the worries and fears of the record industry.

And that’s the crunch here.  Are the record companies ready to take the leap into the unknown?  The fact is they’re going to have to sooner or later.  The only question is whose hand are they going to be holding when they do?

From where I sit, it might as well be Spotify’s.

How to get a spotify invite? No longer needed with Spotify ‘Open’

Spotify ‘Open’ free to everyone without invitation!

**Ignore the rest of this post and head on over to Spotify!! :-)**

That’s got me thousands of visitors.  And something like a hundred or so Spotify invites to give out – so far.

Ok – so someone gave me an invite and I blogged positively – and carefully – about how much fun it was and how clever their marketing was.

So there’s proof of how effective your honest-to-goodness WordPress blog can be. See trend, blog trend.  Only in my case, there’s something missing.  Yes, you’ve guessed it.  A way of making money ;-)

Look, I’ve always hated AdSense.  I know, I know, I’m playing with the power of Google just running a blog.  But I honestly do hate what AdSense is doing to the thing we used to call knowledge. I’ll spare you the middle-aged academic rant.

So, hard though it might be to believe (and even stupider though it might seem to any of you online marketers) I’m passing on Spotify invites day after day for no other reason than its nice to give something away that makes someone else happy.

Spotify don’t mind – after all, even as I write this I’m doing their marketing for them.  So everyone’s happy. Aaaah.

Spotify – internet radio for the terminally lazy and nostalgic. I like it.

Despite the name – ‘Spotify’ – this is internet Radio at its very best, but….

Right now, I’m listening to some old 1980s reggae just as the playlist swerves from Bob Marley into the Sex Pistols ‘C’mon Everybody’. This is what makes Spotify such instant fun.

It’s either a personalised radio station (click the mood you’re in and the decade you’re hankering after and let the software do the rest) or its a ‘search for artist / track’ player.

In the ‘oh, I’m feeling dark and punk circa. 1981′ mode, this is great for just creating a mood and putting tracks in front of you that you’ve probably never heard before. This is perfect for those of us who like the sound but can’t be bothered to get all worked up by the band names…

In the ‘search’ mode you’ll encounter the limitations soon enough – by failing to find the most well known tracks, tracks that are obviously still making someone else more money elsewhere. But as Spotify is supported by EMI, Universal, Warner, AMG and Orchard (among others) there’s plenty to choose from – particularly if, like me, most of it is still in the realm of ‘undiscovered treasure’.

With a few (relatively) unobtrusive audio and banner ads and options for premium accounts, this is the broadband jukebox for me.

So what’s the ‘…but’?

Well, Spotify is currently in ‘invitation-only Beta’ mode.  This means that you can only get a free (ad-based) account through being invited by someone.  Since (as far as I can see) a free account doesn’t give you any invitation tokens to throw around, I can only assume these come with paid membership.

A good marketing model?  We’ll see.  How much more likely am I to pay £9.99 for a monthly membership because it gives me free invites to give out? Time will tell.

Meantime, you can find out more (and register your interest) here.