Spotify Apps

Spotify have confirmed the launch of their apps offering, working with 11 partners:

Billboard – they’ll provide music from the Billboard charts
Fuse – a combination of news and themed playlists
The Guardian – News and reviews
Last.fm – Music recommendations based on your scrobbles
Moodagent – How do you feel today? Pick a genre to match your mood
Pitchfork – playlist curation based on Pitchfork’s impeccable taste
Rolling Stone – tracks recommended by the world’s biggest music magazine
Songkick – finds gigs based on your playlists
Soundrop – share your playlists with your friends
Tunewiki – sees what song your playing and brings up the lyrics (Spotify karaoke!)
We Are Hunted – the best new songs from the brilliant new bands blog

Spotify Apps, despite being in it’s infancy, present us with an interesting new use of Spotify, socialising the music experience further than just sharing what you’re listening to on Facebook.

I’m genuinely excited by this development. Despite the relative simplicity of the apps on offer so far, there is great potential for content providers, curators and brands.

It presents brands with a better way to reach consumers than the standard playlist or advert. Integration with Last.fm’s app could allow you to create a bespoke playlist as a consumer browses your website or Facebook Page, for example.

We’ve seen how apps can evolve a platform experience, look at Foursquare’s ecosystem for example, and by keeping the apps integrated within the Spotify platform, the Swedish company will be able to exercise a little control over what is produced, ensuring that a certain level of quality is maintained.

Have you tried out the new apps yet? What do you think of them and the offering itself?

Spotify Royalties: Some Real Statistics

Spotify this week has once again been the focus of artists’ ire, as more than 200 labels chose to withdraw music from the service.

A post on Digital Music News revelaed research from NPD Group and NARM that claimed:

“access has been deemed ‘most detrimental’ to monetization across nearly all demographic categories”

What is lacking is a transparency from music streaming services that will allow people to decide fro themselves.

So, in a (small) attempt to make the money you receive for a ‘stream’ of one of your tracks a little less hidden, here’s a very basic breakdown from some first hand experience.

I signed up with Routenote, a digital music distribution service, a couple of years ago. It has been in the last few months that I’ve used Routenote to it’s potential, managing to get some of my old band’s tracks on Spotify (you can listen here if you like!).


*click the image to see a bigger version

In August we had 61 plays and earned $0.35016
In September we had 52 plays and earned $0.30396

So for just over 100 plays, we earned ourselves two-thirds of a dollar.

Now that might not seem like much to you, but that 100 plays as 100 more than we would have had otherwise.

To put it another way, the 100 plays is the equivalent of us selling 20 CDs at £3 each that are then only listened to once, straight from the disc.

That would net us £60 profit (our overheads from making the CD were covered years ago), a lot more than half a dollar.

It would seem to make NO SENSE to an outside figure who is interested only in the money at hand.

Why would you spend months creating something, only for its potential value to be made obsolete by uploading it to the Internet and making it publicly available for free?? ARE YOU NUTS?

Perhaps.

The presence on Spotify helps, in my mind, to establish your footprint digitally. If you don’t get on the platform, someone else will, and they make take your potential audience with them.

It makes sharing your music with others easier too. Back in the day, you’d carry 100′s of CDs to gigs, that nobody would buy; now they can listen to you on Spotify and you save your back.

You might end up on a playlist of similar artists, stumbled across randomly by a Spotify user who happened to like your tracks.

Like many elements of our digital lives, there is an element of luck involved, if you are to succeed.

Think of ‘viral’ videos for example. The brands and people involved were lucky that they caught a wave of cultural phenomenon that their content played so well into.

Similarly, that job you got through Twitter? You wouldn’t have it if you’d made a cup of tea and watched the TV instead of checking your stream.

That half dollar may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it is half a dollar that has meant the band’s music has been listened to 100 times more than it would have otherwise been.

It has yet to lead to a sale or download, that much is true. But, if it does, that simple 5 minute process of uploading some tracks will have been made worthwhile.

Spotify TV

Swedish music streaming service Spotify has launched it’s own app for TeliaSonera, providers of digital TV in Sweden and Finland.

This experiments sees the Spotify platform transposed for the Spotify Premium account holding viewing public, allowing them to listen to music through their tellyboxes.

The development is intriguing. It’s not the first time an Internet-based music streaming platform has converged with another medium – Last.fm and Xbox (disclosure: Edelman client) being the principle merging that comes to mind – and it won’t be the last.

Where this really gets interesting however is the potential for on-demand music videos through the Spotify platform.

Again, this is not a new trick; digital TV channels have been offering this for a while, but not with the same freedom and huge catalogue that a potential Spotify operation could bring.

Spotify have teased us with video recently with the Jimi Hendrix video stream and this further tickles the vehicle of visual content consumption.

Is there a desire to watch music videos in the same manner you’d listen to music online though? About $40bn was spent consuming music through subscription TV in 2009 according to BPI and Future Source data. That, of a $100bn industry is quite a chunk, suggests that there is a business opportunity there for someone.

Tunited

Tunited.com

Tunited is a Midge Ure founded independent music community.

Tunited’s four objectives sound rather appealing:

Make music together online, sell direct to fans and get paid more

Find new music to Love

Share it and help shape the scene

Change the Music industry for good

I could buy into this…

* Tunited will provide a platform for independent artists where they are not in competition with the power of the major labels. It will be a level playing field where artists are not judged on which label they are signed to or even if they are signed to a label at all, but they are judged on the quality of their music and how they engage with their fans.

* Tunited will be a hive to stoke creativity and encourage collaboration and community between music makers and music lovers, meaning more music and more choice for listeners.

* We believe in a meritocracy where the cream rises to the top, not a system where few are the arbitrators of the tastes of the many. Tunited will give music the chance to filter up our systems organically. That way, the best music will be recognised, regardless of the size of their marketing budgets or charm of their pluggers.

* We will equip artists with basic business principles, enabling them to make the best, most cost-effective choices to promote their music and empowering them to move forward.

* We believe music should be liberated, not free. We will explain to listeners what the true cost of music is, helping them to decide which bands they want to invest their time, money and passion into.

* We are committed to seeing musicians being paid for the music they produce. Tunited will be investing in artists by giving them 100% of profits from their downloads – a rate better than iTunes. There are other companies out there who promise to pay through 100% of royalties earned on iTunes, while charging you for the service. Tunited will not make a single penny of profit from downloads sold on our site.

* We, at Tunited, believe in a fairer deal for artists through transparency. There are no secrets here. We’ll let you know the why, where, how and who of everything on our site and give you a context to place it in. For example, we will be showing you where every penny goes of a 79p download.

Artists are fairly rewarded for their work, and the open sharing ethic is of course something I’m very keen to see more of. The claim that artists will receive a greater deal than iTunes is interesting, especially given the increasing competition to the service as a distribution platform.

The one worry of course, is that the growth of D2F services such as this may dilute the potential audience for new unsigned artists which begs the question, will we see a Spotify equivalent emerge for the unsigned scene?

The service goes live tomorrow (April 29th) and to keep upto date with what’s going on, check out the Tunited blog.

Like all good social media practitioners, Tunited are also on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace.

Spotify to Stream Jimi Hendrix Video

Spotify, everybody’s favourite music streaming service, is set to stream a video of the new Jimi Hendrix video for Bleeding Heart.

According to a post today on their blog:

The video, which is currently available to view exclusively by users of the Spotify Free service across Europe, kicks off Sony Music’s global promotional campaign for Hendrix’s upcoming album Valleys of Neptune.

The video is being release a few weeks before Jimi’s new album, Valleys of Neptune, which will be available exclusively for Spotify Premium subscribers starting March 4th. Valleys of Neptune features twelve stunning studio recordings tracks, many of which have never been heard before.

This is an exciting development for Spotify and music video streaming.

Of course we can all choose You Tube to find our favourite music videos, but for Spotify to offer exclusive video content, only available to premium members, is a huge step forward for the Swedish company.

It adds another reason to sign up for a premium account and hence make them a little bit more money, but it also begs the question: how soon can they roll out more exclusives, and will this in turn lead to them becoming the main hub for music videos on the net and usurping YouTube in the music space?

What do you think?

7digital Expands

Record of the Day reports that MP3 download specialists 7digital are expanding with the launch of two new MP3 stores in Finland and Norway.

This means that a catalogue of 8 million odd tracks will be available to a total of 16 countries, and this will be music to the ears of their partners, of whom Spotify is one.

The expansion means that 7digital will have the largest reach of any vendor in Europe, and are looking to be in a solid place financially following HMV’s recent acquisition of half the company for £7.7 million.

Ben Drury, CEO of 7digital, said “This gives us the largest international reach of any MP3 retailer. Our partners and potential clients now have the option to operate digital music promotions across the a vast number of markets, through a single partnership with us”.

According to the press release:

At launch both stores will provide best selling albums at sale prices. The finish store will discount top albums to €5.99, while Norway’s will be priced at 56NOK.

Regular tracks and album pricing on the Finish store are €0.99 and €9.99 respectively. In Norway tracks are 8NOK while albums start at 80NOK. Both stores will sell content from all four major labels plus key independents including Bonnier Amigo, Phonophile and Artspages.

Sounds like a bargain to my ears.

Spotify Available on Symbian – Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung Users Rejoice!

Spotify is now available on Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Samsung handsets through Symbian, it was confirmed on the Swedish startup’s blog this morning.

Today’s release means that Spotify Mobile is now available on millions more phones, such as the Nokia 6220 Classic, E71 and 5800 XpressMusic models. The application will also run on some of the more popular Sony Ericsson and Samsung smartphones, such as the Samsung GT-I8910 Omnia HD and Sony Ericsson Satio. Symbian is our third launch for Spotify Mobile, along with previously released iPhone and Android versions.

To find out if your handset is supported, go to m.spotify.com from your mobile’s browser, or enter your mobile number on the Spotify Mobile page, or check on the Spotify Symbian page. As with the Android and iPhone apps, you’ll need to become a premium member to use it, at £9.99 a month.

Spotify has, with this release, officially hit the mainstream. The majority of handsets out there use Symbian, so this presents a masive leap forward in terms of potential users, and of course, revenue.

Seldom Seen Links: September

Here’s some blog posts you might have missed this month:

Media Guardian Innovation Awards 2010
iZoca
Twitter Trending Topics are no longer relevant
Spotify: Daniel Ek’s Glasshouse Chat
Real Time Google Search
The benefits of PR work experience
What’s the point in great PR if the product stinks?
London Bloggers Meet Up September
The Joy of Crowd Sourcing
Practising full tweet disclosure

Spotify: Daniel Ek’s Glasshouse Chat

Spotify Glasshouse EventSpotify’s Daniel Ek last night confirmed that Spotify is considering introducing different price points and that the percentage of premium members is not yet in double digits, and that 80% of Spotify users have stopped file sharing.

I was invited by Mauricio Samayoa and Sylvia Tan to attend Pop Idols, an event hosted by Glasshouse, with Spotify founder Daniel Ek taking part in a cosy chat, at London’s plush Royal College of Physicians. I spent the evening in the most amiable company of Mr. Michael Litman, live tweeting on the #glasshouse hashtag.

Mr. EK started by saying that getting Spotify off the ground was “all about drive and commitment” and advised the entrepreneurs: “don’t listen to what the public think,” although the “most important thing is the consumer”. He said that he had “no previous experience in the music industry” and that “Spotify is a consolation prize to not being a rock star”.

Daniel confirmed to the enraptured audience that the main limit to growth is the competition, which is piracy, not iTunes, and that the next challenge facing the Swedish start up is to get users to share their music effectively. Saying that music is the most sociable type of culture and that it “transcends cultures, demographic barriers,” Spotify want to “encourage developers to create tools around Spotify to share music” rather than replace them, taking a leaf out of Twitter’s book.

And on the subject of Twitter, Mr. Ek said that they have “learnt more from Twitter than any other service” and how amazed he was that on Twitter, Spotify users respond to questions, and that he doesn’t have to answer directly – an important popint for all brands considering social media and unsure of the power of third party involvement and advocates.

It is interesting to look at Daniel Ek’s values in a wider scope. He said that music sharing “must be legal and compensate the artist,” and that “once we’ve found the artists are making money, then we’ll look at different content”. He said that the end goal is to be the platform between the artist and the fans, and wanted to confirm that user data is not used yet, but that it is “definitely something we want to use to engage with brands”.

Richard Trenholm from CNET asked about the relationship between Spotify and the major labels, and if they would look to introduce more independent artists into their roster. Daniel replied by saying “cutting out major labels is not the way to go, but we do want to work with independent artists”, an interesting potential development for young up and coming bands.

Spotify have considered introducing different price points, and in 5-10 years, their revenue will be mainly subscription based with perhaps to a “60/40″ split to advertising. Being typically coy about exact figures, he said Spotify “chose to grow quicker, rather than be profitable”, and when asked about PR, he confirmed that they have only ever issued 4 press releases and that “all marketing budget goes towards the product”

Daniel Ek pointed to the future with three things that Spotify fans could look forward to:

Status updates
Integration with other social services
Letting artists interact with these other services to know who’s listening to their music

Exciting times indeed lie ahead for Spotify, but perhaps even more, and rightly so, for Spotify consumers. It is what the company wants, and that is a good sign for all.

Spotify UK invite only due to iPhone demand

Spotify this afternoon announced that UK users will once again only be able to sign up on an invite basis due to the new demand from iPhone users for the music streaming service. (hat tip to @andygirvan for spotting the blog post originally)

The iPhone app went live a few days ago, and has since been made available for Android users too.

The change will not affect premium or free users, but those now wishing to sign up to the service will require a friend to lend them an invite (ask and i’ve got a few knocking around).

For now though, you’ll have to sign up to the waiting list and hope for an email.

We’ll be watching for Spotify’s next step – will they beat iTunes to get The Beatles back catalogue for example – and which direction they will take next. It’s a service I fnid invaluable and I hope that this temporary shift will enable the Swedish startup to perfect their service in the long run.