Spotify

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Spotify Ltd
Spotify Logo.png
Type Private
Founded 2006
Headquarters London, United Kingdom and Stockholm, Sweden
Country of origin Sweden
Founder(s) Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon
CEO Daniel Ek
Industry Music
Services music streaming
Employees 1,200+[1]
Website spotify.com
Written in C++ (with some third-party libraries)
Alexa rank Positive948 (2014)[2]
Registration Required
Users 60 million+[3]
Available in 50+ languages, 20 languages (18 if exclude similar dialects) in desktop version
Launched 7 October 2008
Current status Active
Native client(s) on Windows, Windows Phone, Linux, BlackBerry OS, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, and OS X

Spotify is a commercial music streaming service that provides digital rights management-restricted[4] content from record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal.[5][6] Music can be browsed or searched by artist, album, genre, playlist, or record label. Paid "Premium" subscriptions remove advertisements and allow users to download music to listen to offline.[7]

Spotify was launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB; as of 15 September 2010, the service had approximately 10 million users,[8] including 2.5 million users with paid subscriptions.[9][10] The service reached 20 million users (5 million paid) by December 2012,[11][12] and 60 million users (15 million paid) in January 2015.[3]

Spotify Ltd. operates as the parent company, headquartered in London.[13] Spotify AB handles research and development in Stockholm.[14]

Availability[edit]

As of January 2015, Spotify was available for Android, BlackBerry, Boxee, iOS, Linux, MeeGo, Microsoft Windows desktop, Openpandora, OS X, Roku, S60 (Symbian), Samsung Smart TV, Sonos, HEOS by Denon,[15][16] Squeezebox, Telia Digital-tv, TiVo, WD TV, webOS, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone;[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] it is not available as a Windows Store app for Windows 8, though a third-party client, Spotlite, exists.[24]

History[edit]

Daniel Ek addressing Spotify staff

Spotify was developed in 2006 by a team at Spotify AB, in Stockholm, Sweden. The company was founded by Daniel Ek, former CTO of Stardoll, and Martin Lorentzon, co-founder of TradeDoubler.

Launch[edit]

Spotify's original logo (2008–2012)

The Spotify application launched on 7 October 2008. While free accounts remained available by invitation to manage the growth of the service, the launch opened paid subscriptions to everyone. At the same time, Spotify AB announced licensing deals with major music labels.[25] The company reported a loss of 31.8 million kronor ($4.4 million) in 2008.[26]

On 10 February 2009 Spotify opened free registration in the United Kingdom (UK).[27] Registrations surged following the release of the mobile service, leading Spotify to halt registration in the UK for part of 2009, returning to an invitation-only policy.[28]

Evolution[edit]

Former Spotify headquarters

On 4 March 2009, Spotify announced a security flaw in the service, by which private account information (including email addresses and hashed, salted passwords) of members registered prior to 19 December 2008 were potentially exposed.[29][30][31][32]

Premium ecards (premium codes) were offered for the 2009 Christmas season that allowed recipients to upgrade an account to "Premium" status for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months.[33]

On 28 January 2010, Symantec's antivirus software marked Spotify as a Trojan horse, disabling the software across millions of computers.[34][35]

In February 2010, Spotify received a small investment from Founders Fund, where board member Sean Parker was recruited to assist Spotify in "winning the labels over in the world's largest music market".[36] On 18 May 2010, Spotify announced that two more types of accounts were available: Spotify Unlimited, an equivalent to Spotify Premium without mobile and other features, and Spotify Open, a reduced-feature version of Spotify Free, which allowed users to listen to up to 20 hours of music per month.[37]

During 2010, Spotify paid more than €45 million to its licensors.[38] In March 2011, Spotify announced that it had one million paying subscribers across Europe,[10] doubling by September to two million.[39] On 1 September 2010, the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the company as a Technology Pioneer for 2011.[40]

On 25 March 2011, Spotify temporarily removed display advertising from external sources on its open and free accounts, due to an attack which used a Java exploit to place malicious code on victims' computers.[41]

Before their free mobile and unlimited offer, in most locations, a six-month free trial period was offered,[42] allowing the user to listen to an unlimited amount of music supported by visual and radio-style advertising.[43] After the trial period, Spotify had a listening limit of 10 hours per month, divided into 2.5-hour weekly portions (unused hours carried over).[44] The only locations exempt from this rule were Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the U.S., where ad-supported unlimited streaming continued on Spotify Free.[45][46]

An "Unlimited" subscription removed advertisements and time limits, and a "Premium" subscription featured higher bitrate streaming and offline access. The app can be used without a premium account.[47] Users can try Spotify Premium for 48 hours by logging into Spotify Mobile for the first time, or getting a 30-day trial for their first month.[48] An active Facebook account was required to use Spotify if the user signed up via Facebook; but, as of 30 August 2012, the option to create a Spotify username was again offered.[49] Subscriptions required credit/debit cards or PayPal accounts registered in certain countries.[50][51] Alternatively, prepaid cards could be bought in retail stores in select countries.[52]

Monetization[edit]

On 15 April 2011, Spotify announced via a blog post that they would drastically cut the amount of music that free members could access, effective 1 May 2011. The post stated that all Spotify Open and Spotify Free members would be transferred to a new product which limited audio streaming to 10 hours per month. In addition, individual tracks were limited to five plays. Spotify Unlimited and Spotify Premium members were not affected by this change. New users were exempt from these changes for six months.[53]

On 17 June 2011, it was reported that Spotify had secured another US$100 million of funding and planned to use this to support its U.S. launch. The new round of funding valued the company at US$1 billion.[54]

U.S. launch[edit]

On 14 July 2011, Spotify launched its U.S. service, after delays and years of negotiation with the four major record companies.[55] On 30 November 2011, Spotify launched Spotify Apps and App Finder with launch partners that included Rolling Stone, We Are Hunted, Top10, Songkick, The Guardian, Soundrop and Last.fm.[56]

Spotify Apps[edit]

In November 2011 introduced a Spotify Apps service that made it possible for third-party developers to contribute HTML5 applications that could be hosted within the Spotify desktop player. The applications provided features such as synchronized lyrics, music reviews, and curated playlists. At launch, the supported applications included Billboard, Fuse, The Guardian, Last.fm, Moodagent, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Songkick, Soundrop, Tunewiki and We Are Hunted. In June 2012, Soundrop became the first Spotify app to attract major funding with a $3 million Series A of funding from Spotify investor Northzone.[57] The Spotify Apps service was discontinued in October 2014.[58]

2012–present[edit]

On 29 March 2012, Spotify removed a restriction that limited non-U.S. free users to five plays of a given song; although the restriction continued in the UK and France. The 10-hour-per-month limit remained in place for all free accounts older than six months;[59] while the company also announced "continued unlimited free listening" for users in the U.S.[60]

In August 2012, Time reported four million paid subscribers,[61] producing at least 20 million per month in revenue. A Goldman Sachs-led round of funding closed in November 2012, raising around US$100 million at a $3 billion valuation.[62]

On 19 March 2013, Spotify removed the 5-play restriction in the UK.[63] On 5 April 2013, Spotify released Messages and Browse as application updates. Messages could be sent to other users and viewed on the desktop application. Browse allowed users to find playlists and charts created by other users using filters such as genre, mood or activity.[64]

On 16 April 2013, Spotify was launched in the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Windows Phone Store in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia,[65] Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico and Iceland.[66] Upon its release in April 2013, the Daft Punk single, "Get Lucky", received the highest number of plays of any song in a single day.[67]

On 11 December 2013, Ek announced a free streaming feature for iPhone and Android users, allowing them to stream specific artists and playlists from their phones.[68] Previously, Spotify users were limited to listening to radio stations similar to artists or playlists. This feature allowed them to play shuffled tracks from a specific artist or playlist. The update also included new features for tablet users, enabling them to listen to any song at any time.[69]

"Get Lucky" was among the ten most-played songs in December 2013. Other artists such as Avicii, Robin Thicke, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were also featured. In its annual review, the streaming company revealed that 24 million active users streamed over 4.5 billion hours of music in 2013.[70][71]

On 6 March 2014, Spotify announced that they had acquired The Echo Nest,[72] which also supplied data to Spotify competitors. On 25 March 2014, Spotify launched an advertising campaign on Facebook, as well as its own application promoting Spotify Premium for Students, a discounted offer for its monthly subscription targeted to college students in the U.S.[73]

In June 2014, Spotify released a new Web API that allowed third-party developers to integrate Spotify content in their own applications.[74] The Spotify Web API is an web service based on Representational state transfer principles that can be accessed by programs through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It returns data about albums, artists, tracks, playlists ad other Spotify resources in JSON format. To access some sensitive datasets (like user profile data), programs must provide OAuth access tokens with their requests.

On 28 January 2015, PlayStation Blog announced that Spotify would power their new music service, called PlayStation Music. Scheduled for a Spring 2015 launch, the new service was to replace Music Unlimited.[75]

Features[edit]

Catalogue[edit]

As of December 2012, Spotify provided access to approximately 20 million songs.[76] Users could search for artists, albums, titles, labels and genres, and access tracks from many major and independent labels. Some artists opted out of Spotify.[5][77] Additionally, some artists withdrew from specific regions because of licensing restrictions. The Spotify desktop client allowed music to be imported from iTunes,[78] with the option of syncing with a mobile device.[79] Users from the UK, France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands can buy most tracks, if available, from Spotify's download partner 7digital.[80]

Playlists[edit]

Users can create and share playlists,[81] or edit them together with other users. A playlist link can directly be dragged into an email or an instant messaging window. If the recipient follows the link, the playlist appears in the recipient's Spotify-client. Playlists auto-update if the author adds or removes tracks. Playlist links can be used with every Spotify client app. The same principle works for single tracks, which can be dropped on applications and websites at will.[82] Many websites support sharing of Spotify playlists and songs and let users share, rate and discuss them.[83] Users can examine their play queue. Spotify can flag playlist duplicates.[84]

In December 2014, Spotify released "Top Tracks in Your Network". It is a personalized, constantly updated playlist based on the people you follow.[85]

Last.fm integration[edit]

While Spotify does not automatically create preference-based playlists, it does integrate with Last.fm. This integration allows Spotify users to send songs from Spotify to their Last.fm account and "scrobble" them. Scrobbling allows Spotify users to learn which songs or artists they listen to the most. In turn, Spotify users can add a Spotify link to songs in their Last.fm library and send them to the Spotify client with the Lastify app.[86] Since November 2011 an official app called Last.fm for Spotify enables recommendations based on listening history, embedded artist wiki information while listening with Spotify.

Radio[edit]

Spotify includes a Radio feature for Spotify Free and Premium accounts. Radio creates a random playlist of songs chosen based on specified genres and decades. An Artist Radio feature creates a random playlist of songs by artists related to (and including) a selected artist.[87] Artist Radio channels provide information on the artist, ranging from history to the artist's most popular tracks. Radio differs from its competitor, Pandora.

Premium (paid) Spotify users are allowed to skip tracks as desired, while Pandora limits the number of tracks that can be skipped. Free Spotify users on mobile (Android/iPhone) are limited to five skips, similar to Pandora. In August 2012 Spotify allowed users to "rate" tracks, improving the ability to organise the radio function based on user preference.[88]

Social media integration[edit]

Spotify allows users to integrate their account with existing Facebook and Twitter accounts. Thereafter they are able to access their friends'/followee's favourite music and playlists.[89] Facebook compatibility allows Spotify users to share music with Facebook friends through the use of the service's inbox. Spotify users are able to send tracks or playlists to friends who are then able to play them through their Spotify account.[90] Spotify posts to users' Facebook feeds the music and playlists they are currently listening to. These feeds feature a play button that automatically launches the item in Spotify.[91] From 26 September 2011 to 30 August 2012, all new accounts were required to supply a Facebook login.[92]

Technical information[edit]

Spotify software is proprietary and uses digital rights management (DRM) to prevent unauthorised use. Users who agree to Spotify's Terms and conditions agree to not reverse engineer the application.[93]

Audio streams are in the Vorbis format at q5 (ca. 160 kbit/s),[94] or optional q9 (ca. 320 kbit/s)[95] for Premium subscribers. Spotify has a median playback latency of 265 ms or 390 ms without local cache.[96]

As of version 0.4.3, it is possible to play locally stored MP3 and AAC files. (This does not work in Linux using Wine because Spotify is "...blocking codecs with the identifier "WINE-MPEG3″ until the Wine system works satisfactorily.")[97]

Spotify supports Debian GNU/Linux user, as they mentioned in their contribution to the systemd vs Upstart vs sysvinit Debian debate.[98]

Cache size and location is configurable. 1 GB or more disk space is recommended.[99] On OS X, a G4 processor or higher is required. Users must set up an account to use the software. This account can be used on several computers, but music playback is limited to one at a time.

Business model[edit]

Spotify operates under the freemium model (basic services are free, while additional features are offered via paid subscriptions). Spotify makes its revenues by selling streaming subscriptions to premium users and advertising placements to third parties.

In December 2013, the company launched a new website, "Spotify for Artists", that revealed its business model and revenue data. Spotify pays copyright holders royalties for streamed music. The company pays 70% of its total revenue to rights holders. Spotify for Artists states that the company does not have a fixed per-play rate, considers factors such as the user's home country and the individual artist's royalty rate. Rights holders received an average per-play payout between $.006 and .0084.[100] The company has allegedly lost $200 million since it was founded, although the company has not confirmed or denied this.[101]

A 2012 report stated that Spotify posted a net loss of US$59 million in 2011, attributed to increased staffing costs and licensing fees and royalties to record companies.[102] A November 2012 report predicted that Spotify would reach revenues of US$500 million over the course of 2012, up from US$244 million in 2011.[103]

As of 2013, Spotify offered a US$10 per month unlimited subscription package, close to the Open Music Model (OMM)—estimated economic equilibrium—for the recording industry. However, the incorporation of DRM diverges from the OMM and competitors such as iTunes and Amazon MP3 that have dropped DRM. In Denmark, for example, the cost is DKK49 (US$9.00) per month (as of 8 December 2013) for an unlimited subscription.[104] Another income sources is music purchases from within the app.

Subscriptions[edit]

Spotify's encourages people to pay for music, with subscriptions as its main revenue source.[100] A Spotify Premium subscription costs of $9.99/month.[7] Spotify’s “Current Offers” are listed as Student Discount and Sprint Customers.[7] Through Spotify Premium for Students [105] or Spotify’s partnership with Sprint,[106] the monthly subscription fee can be discounted or temporarily reduced.

The subscription removes advertisements and limits, and increases the bitrate to 320 kbit/s for some songs.[107] The fee also allows unlimited mobile usage for iOS, Android, Symbian, webOS, Windows Mobile 6.x, Windows Phone and most BlackBerry devices, as well as offline and online access to playlists.

Spotify offers users free trials of Premium features for 30 days. Users must enter payment information and must explicitly terminate their subscription before the trial period ends to avoid paying for Premium features.[108]

Spotify for Artists claims that "a Spotify Premium customer spends per year compared to the average spend of a US music consumer who buys music (not including those who spend $0 on music)", with the annual value of the average US paying listener identified as US$120. The website also claims that "a Spotify customer is 1.6x more financially valuable than the average adult non-Spotify US music consumer."[100] In March 2014, Spotify announced a student discount that reduced the price of Spotify Premium from $12.99 to $4.99 for students of American colleges.[109] Students must have an email address from the .edu domain.

BBC Music Week editor Tim Ingham wrote: "Unlike buying a CD or download, streaming is not a one-off payment. Hundreds of millions of streams of tracks are happening each and every day, which quickly multiplies the potential revenues on offer – and is a constant long-term source of income for artists.[110]

Advertisements[edit]

Spotify offers advertisers seven different types of ads, described in their Ad Specs as Audio Ads, Display Ads, Billboard Ads, Homepage Takeovers, Branded Playlists, Lightbox and Advertiser Pages.[111] These advertisements vary in size, type and user engagement.[111] Audio Ads run for a maximum of 30 seconds as a commercial in between streamed tracks.[112] Display Ads, Billboard Ads, and Lightboxes appear during active and inactive use.[111]

In February 2009, ads for non-paying users were 15 seconds long.[113] In May 2009, Neowin reported this had increased to approximately 30 seconds.[114]

Downloads[edit]

Spotify offers music downloads in the UK at £0.99 per track in partnership with the 7digital music store.[115] The feature was designed to provide the option to download music.[116] In October 2010, Wired reported that Spotify was making more money for labels in Sweden than any other retailer, "online or off".[117] During 2010, Spotify paid more than €45 million to its licensors.[38]

User growth[edit]

In March 2011, Spotify announced a customer base of one million paying subscribers across Europe,[10] and by September, the number of paying subscribers had doubled to two million.[39] In August 2012 Time reported four million paying Spotify subscribers,[61] responsible for at least €20 million per month in revenue.[118]

User growth continued, reaching 20 million active and 5 million paid users on 6 December 2012, including one million in the US.[119] Users reach 24 million (6 million paid) by March 2013,[120] 30 million (10 million paid) by May 2014[121] and 45 million (15 million paid) by January 2015.[3]

Controversy[edit]

Support[edit]

In June 2012, Charles Caldas, CEO of the Merlin Network, a representative body for over 10,000 independent labels, clarified that Spotify pays royalties to the music labels and not the artists. According to Caldas, the payments Merlin’s labels received from Spotify rose 250 percent from the year ending March 2011 to the year ending March 2012, while, at the time of the interview, the revenue per user (RPU) was "the highest it has been since the launch of the service." Caldas said that Merlin had observed "consistent, ongoing growth on revenue per user, revenue per stream, and the total revenue" that Spotify generates for the labels it represents.[122][123]

Caldas also highlighted the issue of time lag for artists, as they are not gaining an impression of Spotify's status at the time they receive their payments because they are "getting reporting quarterly, or six-monthly, on sales that happened six months ago." Caldas explained that "royalty statements could be a year old," which is an issue for Spotify, as it is ideally suited to long-term artists because the more times a purchased download is played, the less money the artist receives per play.[122]

In February 2015, the TechDirt site interpreted data from an Ernst & Young report that was compiled on behalf of the French record label trade group, SNEP, showing that major music labels were withholding royalties instead of streaming services like Spotify. The report looked only at the payouts of Spotify and Deezer, revealing that the music labels receive 73.1% of the total post-tax payout, while songwriters and publishers receive 16% and artists receive 10.9%. The writer concludes that, while labels formerly required large distribution fees to stock worldwide retail outlets, "there's no manufacturing, and distribution is an 'upload' button," and "it appears that perhaps they [artists] should be discussing things with the labels."[124]

Artists[edit]

Spotify has been accused of failing to compensate artists fairly.[125] Helienne Lindvall reported in 2009 that for "artists who 'signed up to a label' there's a tangible risk that revenue which comes from a possible sale of shares by the label would end up in the proverbial 'blackbox' (non-attributable revenue that remains with the label)" and that "indie labels ... as opposed to the majors and Merlin members, receive no advance, receive no minimum per stream and only get a 50% share of ad revenue on a pro-rata basis."[126]

In 2009, Swedish musician Magnus Uggla pulled his music from the service, stating that after six months he'd only earned "what a mediocre busker could earn in a day".[127] Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported in 2009 that the record label Racing Junior earned only NOK 19 ($3.00 USD) after their artists had been streamed over 55,100 times.[128] According to an infographic by David McCandless, an artist on Spotify would need over four million streams per month to earn US$1,160.[129] Luke Lewis wrote that "the 'free' aspect of Spotify is unsustainable" and that "if Spotify is to have a future, it needs to be a viable business".[130]

In September 2011, US independent label Projekt Records stated, "We (the audience) believe in the value of what artists create. The artist's passion, dedication and expression is respected and rewarded. Spotify is NOT a service that does this. Projekt will not be part of this unprincipled concept."[131] In May 2012, British Theatre vocalist and Biffy Clyro touring guitarist, Mike Vennart, stated:

I'd sooner people stole my work than stream it from [Spotify]. They pay the artists virtually nothing. Literally pennies per month. Yet they make a killing. They've forced the sales way down in certain territories, which wouldn't be so bad if the bands actually got paid.[132]

In March 2012, Patrick Carney said that "Spotify isn't fair to artists"[133] and that "for a band that makes a living selling music, streaming services are not a 'feasible' option."[134] In reply to Spotify board member Sean Parker's claim that Spotify would make more money for the music industry than iTunes, Carney said: "That guy has $2 billion that he made from figuring out ways to steal royalties from artists, and that's the bottom line. You can't really trust anybody like that."[133]

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke (front) and producer Nigel Godrich (rear) have accused Spotify of not supporting new artists fairly.

David Byrne criticised streaming services such as Spotify on 11 October 2013 said, "if artists have to rely almost exclusively on the income from these services, they'll be out of work within a year," and countered the supposed ability to discover new music through services such as Spotify by arguing that artists needed to get paid. Byrne concluded his piece by admitting "I don't have an answer."[135]

In March 2014, the American funk band Vulfpeck funded a concert tour using Spotify royalties from an album entitled "Sleepify", which consisted solely of silence—the band encouraged users to stream the album on a loop while they slept, so the resulting plays could increase the amount of money earned. The album was pulled by Spotify in late-April 2014, citing unspecified violations of the service's content guidelines—the band had accumulated enough streams to result in at least US$20,000 in royalties before the album was pulled.[136][137][138][139]

Thom Yorke[edit]

In July 2013, Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich removed their band Atoms for Peace and Yorke's solo music from Spotify.[140] In a series of tweets, Yorke stated: "Make no mistake, new artists you discover on Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly be rolling in it. Simples ... New artists get paid fuck all with this model." Godrich stated: "[Streaming] cannot work as a way of supporting new artists' work. Spotify and the like either have to address that fact and change the model for new releases or else all new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet." In an October 2013 interview with Mexican website Sopitas, Yorke said: "I feel like as musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing. I feel that in some ways what's happening in the mainstream is the last gasp of the old industry. Once that does finally die, which it will, something else will happen."[141] Spotify responded in a statement that the company was "still in the early stages of a long-term project that's already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music", and that they "are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers".[142]

Taylor Swift[edit]

On November 3, 2014, pop singer Taylor Swift removed all but one of her songs from Spotify. Swift had previously delayed the streaming of her 2012 album, Red.[143] Spotify launched a social media campaign to persuade Swift to return and, in a statement on its website, claimed that 16 million of over 40 million users had played her music in the preceding 30-day period.[144]

In mid-November, Swift's label head, Scott Borchetta, disputed figures released by Spotify and Ek, which claimed that Swift would receive $6 million US Dollars annually from the streaming site—Borchetta rejected Ek's statement in a TIME magazine interview, in which he said that Swift was paid a total of $500,000 over the previous 12 months. Spotify responded to Borchetta, by claiming that Swift had been paid $2 million over the prior year. Spotify further explained: "We [Spotify] paid Taylor [Swift]’s label and publisher roughly half a million dollars in the month before she took her catalog down". Ben Popper, of the Verge publication, suggested that the $6-million figure was attained by taking Swift's "trend line" and extrapolating over a year-long period "to get to the highest possible number".[144][145] According to Borchetta, the amount Swift earned from streaming her videos on the Vevo site was greater than the payout she received from Spotify. He said to TIME:

The facts show that the music industry was much better off before Spotify hit these shores ... Don’t forget this is for the most successful artist in music today. What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career? Over the last year, what Spotify has paid is the equivalent of less than 50,000 albums sold.[146]

Borchetta stated in a November 7 radio interview that he had been made aware of other artists who were seriously considering withdrawing. Borchetta's statements led to Ek were followed by a post in which he wrote that Spotify had paid $2 billion to labels and publishers since its inception in 2008, and was bolstering the music business financially.[146] In December 2014, Spotify released its end-of-year list of the service's most-streamed music of 2014. Katy Perry, Pharrell, and Ed Sheeran were listed as leading artists in different music categories, but Swift did not appear.[147]

Borchetta clarified in a February 2015 interview that Swift's catalog would be permitted on a streaming service that "that understands the different needs that we [Swift and Big Machine] have," whereby "the choice to be [on the free, ad-supported tier] or not" is provided. Borchetta argued that Swift's musical oeuvre is "arguably the most important current catalog there is" and stated that the streaming issue is "about each individual artist, and the real mission here is to bring … attention to it."[148]

D. A. Wallach[edit]

In February 2012, musician D.A. Wallach—member of the band Chester French and former Harvard classmate of Mark Zuckerberg—was Spotify's "artist-in-residence," and helped form the “Artist Services” team. The group reportedly advises artists on how to enhance their use of Spotify and provides education about the platform. Wallach engaged with the media in 2012, informing the Forbes publication in February:

We’re working very carefully to make Spotify the most artist-friendly company that has ever existed ... We want to help artists ... Our goal is to make artists a lot of money, more money they’ve ever been paid.[149]

In a June interview with the Hypebot site, Wallach reported that US$180 million of royalties was paid out in 2011 and 70% of Spotify's revenue consisted of royalty payments, meaning that the per-stream royalty rate doubled between the service's inception and mid-2012. He said that, at the time, the average listener spends US$60 annually on music, whereas Spotify Premium users spend twice that amount. According to Wallach in 2012: "The growth of the platform is proportional to the royalty pay out and since inception we’ve already doubled the effective per play rate."[123]

Withheld content[edit]

When an artist opts out of Spotify or is otherwise unavailable, they will be greeted with a message that reads, "The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.[150] In May 2014, Coldplay withheld Ghost Stories[151] until mid-September 2014[152] and before that Mylo Xyloto was withheld for four months, starting in October 2011.[153] Beyoncé's self titled album was not available until November 24, 2014,[154] when the platinum edition was made available to the catalogue,[155] while The Black Keys' album Turn Blue remained unavailable.[150]

Adele's 21 was not initially available on Spotify, because the singer wanted Spotify to make her album only available to paid subscribers, but not to others. Spotify declined her offer to avoid creating separate catalogues for subscribers and non-subscribers.[156] The album became available to stream in June 2012.[157]

Several bands from the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Beatles and AC/DC, rejected Spotify. Until the end of 2013, Led Zeppelin's music was not available. Late in 2013 the parties reached an agreement.[158] The band's deal with Spotify is exclusive, meaning their work can't be streamed on any competing streaming sites, which is similar to iTunes' exclusive deal to sell Beatles music.[159]

Rolling Stone reported that Icelandic singer Björk states that she didn't want to put her new album Vulnicura towards Spotify, citing "It's just seems insane."[160]

Copyrights[edit]

In September 2013, Ministry of Sound sued Spotify, alleging that user playlists mimicking the track listings of their compilation albums were infringing on album copyrights.[161]

In the Spotify For Artists website launched in December 2013, the streaming service includes a section entitled "Spotify's impact on piracy" as a response to the criticisms against the company regarding the exploitation of musicians. Spotify states that it has proven the theory 'given a free and legal alternative, people will pirate less', and uses Sweden, Norway, Denmark, USA, Netherlands and the UK to provide evidence. For example, in Norway, the figure of 1.2 billion pirated songs in 2008 is compared to a figure of 210 million from 2012.[100]

User privacy[edit]

In May 2014, Spotify announced it was hacked but stated that it would take further actions to increase security. They claimed that only one user's information might have been jeopardised. Spotify then released an update for Android users.[162]

Clients[edit]

Desktop[edit]

Client software is available for Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista and 7). Windows 8 is not officially supported, and as of September 2014 Spotify had not released a native client for Windows 8 (or newer) in the Windows Store.

Client software is available for Mac OS X 10.5 or newer. Spotify withdrew support for versions of OS X earlier than 10.5 in 2012.[163]

On Linux, either the Windows version can be used, using Wine,[164] or an unsupported preview of a native Linux version packaged for Debian 6.0 'Squeeze' and Ubuntu[165] and limited to amd64 and i386 architectures.

Version 0.8.8 received poor feedback.[166] Some features, such as playlist filtering, were removed while sorting was broken. The interface changed from native C++ to web-based. 0.8.8 and newer versions offer slower performance and greater memory usage.[167] As of July 2013 most complaints had not been resolved.[166] Spotify offers no option to turn off automatic updates; however, workarounds allow the use of pre-0.8.8 versions.[168][169][170]

In December 2013, Spotify released a Premium client called "Spotiamp", which used an interface that resembles version 2 of the popular music player Winamp (AOL, the owners of Winamp, were planning to discontinue the player). The client contained an equaliser and support for Advanced Visualization System.[171]

Mobile versions[edit]

Mobile apps for Android,[172] iOS,[173][174][175] Symbian,[176] BlackBerry OS,[177][178] Windows Phone 7/8,[179][180] Windows Mobile 6.0,[181] and WebOS[182] are available.

As of 20 June 2012, Spotify radio streaming was free on the iPad and iPhone in the US.[183]

The applications allow Premium subscribers to access the full music catalogue, stream music and listen to music when disconnected. As of September 2013, "extreme quality" mobile streaming (~320kbit/s) is only available on the iOS and Android versions of the Spotify app. As of May 2014, "extreme quality" has been added to the Windows Phone 8 client.

As of December 2013, Spotify made its mobile app free for Android and iOS devices with ads enabled, not just premium subscribers.[184]

Third-party clients and libraries[edit]

Third-party (and open source) projects employ Spotify services. The most prominent is Despotify, originally released as an ncurses text-mode client for Linux and OS X. All third-party applications and development libraries require a Premium subscription.

  • Clementine: Multiplatform (Windows, Mac, or Linux) music player. It is inspired by Amarok 1.4, focusing on a fast and easy-to-use interface for searching and playing music.
  • Despotify: see below[185]
  • Fidelify: an "audiophile" client, requires a Spotify Premium account and a PC running Windows XP/Vista/7/8.x with .NET Framework 4.[186]
  • Jotify: a Java client.
  • Last.fm for Spotify: official app by Last.fm enabling recommendations based on listening history, embedded artist wiki information while listening and more (does not require premium subscription).
  • mySpot was a freeware client that supported Windows Mobile via an intermediate proxy. It required a QVGA, VGA or WVGA device running Windows Mobile Professional (Pocket PC) 6.0 or higher.[citation needed] It was discontinued and the service disabled months before the official client was launched by Spotify.[187]
  • Spotiamp: a lightweight client with the look and feel of Winamp 2.x with support for Winamp skins and visualization plugins. Also available as a portable application.[188][189]
  • Tomahawk: cross-platform music player for Windows, Mac OS and Linux with integrated Spotify "resolver" (plugin), requires a Spotify Premium account.

Despotify[edit]

Despotify
Original author(s)
  1. hack.se
Written in C
Operating system Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OS X, Windows
Type Client, Library
License 2-clause BSD license

Despotify is a free software open source client. It aims to provide tools to allow third parties to leverage Spotify's platform for new services. Its authors remain anonymous, but their website claims that they are a group of Swedish computer science researchers and security professionals who "believe strongly in the right to tinker with technology".

The software supports most mainstream POSIX-compliant operating systems for which there is an ANSI C compiler. It requires one of Core Audio, GStreamer, libao or PulseAudio. A Despotify-based client, Spot, supports jailbroken iPhones.[190]

Spotify has blocked usage of Despotify for "Free" and "Open" accounts, but not those with a "Premium" account. The Despotify team claimed that they would not attempt to circumvent the block. The code may however be forked by others.[191]

The Despotify library has language bindings for Python and Ruby. It depends on the OpenSSL, zlib and libvorbis libraries.

PlayStation Music[edit]

In January 2015, Spotify teamed up with Sony to power a new music service named PlayStation Music. The service will be accessible to existing Spotify members via the PlayStation Network. It was planned to launch in 41 markets in Spring 2015, initially on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Sony Xperia devices.[75]

Geographic availability[edit]

Availability of Spotify in the world as of September 2014.

Spotify is available in Western Europe, the Americas, and Australia and New Zealand. The country list includes Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uruguay.[192] In Estonia, Greece and Romania, the Premium service was offered until July 2009, but never the free version. Only customers with credit cards or PayPal accounts in one of the above-mentioned countries can buy a Premium account.[193]

Spotify went live (by invitation only) in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, France and Spain in October 2008.[194]

On 10 February 2009, Spotify launched in the United Kingdom.[195]

On 18 May 2010, Spotify launched in the Netherlands.[196]

Spotify launched in the US on 14 July 2011,[197] in Germany on 13 March 2012,[198] and in Australia and New Zealand on 22 May 2012.[199] From 13 November 2012, it became available in Ireland and Luxembourg. From 11 February 2013, Spotify then became available in Italy, Poland and Portugal. Spotify was launched in Mexico, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland on 15/16 April 2013.[200][201]

On 24 September 2013, Spotify launched in Argentina, Greece, Taiwan, and Turkey.[202]

On 3 December 2013, Spotify launched in Colombia as a pre-launch promo from Coca-Cola.[203]

On 11 December 2013, Spotify launched in Costa Rica.[204]

On 12 December 2013, Spotify launched in an additional 18 markets: Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Malta, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Slovakia and Uruguay.[205]

On 8 April 2014, Spotify launched in the Philippines.[206]

On 28 May 2014, Spotify launched in Brazil.[207]

On 30 September 2014, Spotify launched in Canada.[208]

Accounts and subscriptions[edit]

As of December 2014, the two Spotify subscription types are:

Name Price Free of Ads Listening time Premium features
Spotify Free Free No Unlimited[209] No
Spotify Premium 9.99 USD, 9.99 CAD, 11.99 AUD, 12.99 NZD, 9.99 GBP, 9.9 SGD, 48 HKD, 149 NTD, 14.9 MYR, 99 MXN, 36 ARS, 14.90 BRL, 9.99 TRY, 99 NOK, 99 SEK, 99 DKK, 12.95 CHF, 19.99 PLN, 9.99 EUR (6.99 EUR in some countries: Baltic states, Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, 5.99 EUR in Slovakia, 4.99 EUR in Bulgaria and Hungary), 129 PHP per month.
  • In the UK and Germany Students can receive a 50% discount on their monthly subscription fees through UNiDAYS or with a valid NUS Extra Card.[210]
Yes Unlimited Yes[note 1]
  1. ^ Offline mode, enhanced sound quality, exclusive content.

User community[edit]

Websites, blogs and 3rd-party applications and tools support Spotify.[211] Community resources include Facebook and Last.fm groups, Twitter bots and user forums, tools to display lyrics and services to list and notify users about new releases.[212] In 2010, Spotify blog The Pansentient League held the first Spotify Community Site Awards, with categories such as Best Playlist Sharing Site, Best News & Music Finder Site and Best Playlist Generator.[213]

Spotify led to an array of editorial content integrating playlists into articles. Popular music website Drowned in Sound is among the most notable examples, running every Friday as "Spotifriday" which involves a playlist of the site's content during the week shared with readers.

See also[edit]

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