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.