A lot of music journalists write about Spotify like it’s the future of music. Bob Lefsetz for example. Sure, they are right, but only a little bit because the thing is: Spotify doesn’t have many listeners. At the moment it has 40 millions users and only 25% (10 million) are paying for it. Compare that to the 1 billion unique users (!) who visit YouTube each month. Or compare that to the more than 250 million listeners SoundCloud has.
In my opinion Spotify makes a few mistakes. The major mistake they make is not connecting directly to musicians and bands. The internet has proven that middle men are having a hard time. And although these middlemen might be needed for some specific tasks in the production and/or marketing process many bands and musicians can do all these things on their own (DIY). YouTube and SoundCloud have realised that the New Creatives will upload their work themselves and will connect to their fans directly. This is also what the fans love. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are doing the same thing. But Spotify doesn’t. Spotify will not allow a band to connect to its fans. Spotify lacks all the nifty network features of modern webservices. All that social stuff. You can’t even embed a Spotify track/album or listen to something if you don’t have a Spotify account. Which is a major mistake because the number one reason that YouTube is the biggest player in the streaming world is that very reason: any person on the interwebs can simply hit play on a YouTube video and enjoy it.
A SoundCloud account is free. Sure, the free account has its limits, but to make a couple tracks available won’t cost you any money. And if you want more, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. This is the number one reason why any musician/band on this planet will create a SoundCloud account at some point. And with that account he/she will be able to tag the music, send it to SoundCloud groups and might get noticed by some of the big guys which are among those 250 million users. And any music fan can embed the music or share it on Facebook and Twitter, even if they don’t have an account on SoundCloud. Thanks to modern technology any user will be able to play that music from within a blog (inline), Twitter or Facebook stream without ever leaving the platform.
We all know how powerful blogging is. Adding your music on SoundCloud or YouTube is like blogging your music. And let’s not forget about BandCamp, which also has an excellent service for providing tools for musicians and bands not only to sell their music but also stream it from embeds and inline on Twitter and Facebook.
I’m not against Spotify but I do believe that it was created from a very conservative point of view. It was a logical step for an extremely conservative music industry that has mistakenly killed Napster. An industry that mistakenly still tries to kill The Pirate Bay. An industry that is still suing its own fans. YouTube, SoundCloud and BandCamp got it right. But Spotify, I’m afraid, doesn’t.