I think I got what’s really happening with Spotify. In the last nine months, several kind of avant-garde changes has occured to Spotify. In the end of the summer 2011, I began notice how the pictures from AllImages were replaced with the cover of the most popular album at the artist profiles. I think this were an indication that core things of Spotify is going to change by the hint that previous versions of libspotify will be disabled soon.
While it shall be noticed I’m not a official employer (but a champion), I think there is some gorgeous changes to spotify. Until the mid-autumn in 2011, Spotify’s policy has been being very closed when it coming to integrate features and information from 3rd users and developers. But the intresting thing is that Spotify as a service, in order to gain any kind of chance survining and success in the US, must change their mind slighly in order to blow the opponents out. As there is several reports from the labels about the low royalities, Spotify need to increase the amount of paid plays per songs in order to be able to compensate the artists and labels and still keep recording there. To do this, they must increase the accessibility of the music, and this required some of the fundamental rules be changed. I believe the initial result of this were the Facebook-integration, which according to a source increase the number of users a lot, which will force the stakeholders to keep in good relationship with Spotify.
In many countries, the legal authoritories has getting more aggressive in their process of sueing people who pirating music. I believe this is a fundamental pillar in the process that is going to shape the future and beyond the last updates. By the last three years, the amount of lawsuits and purnishment of music pirates has increased a lot, and this is probably a leading reason why people consider stop file sharing and begin using services like Spotify. This means that these serivice will be free in the way that these people otherwise will soon get their economy drained by their financial liabilities the piracy causes, and the chance of getting accused for piracy is increasing a lot every day.
What this means for services like Spotify is a huge thing. In order to make these services lucurative on the behalf of both users and the music industry, they now begin realizing that they cannot make obstacles for people who want getting legal. Thus, these services must offer something that is better than piracy, and this is like fighting metastaces. In order to create something that are better than the free pirate copies, they must introduce features that are making sense to both labels and the peoples. I believe Spotify planned their profit to grow on the mass migration from the illegal copying, and from it starting year until 2011, it has been a real success. But to keep the people there, and prevent them fall of by the structural problems (DRM, OS-dependence etc.) the services must adopt something else than just ‘free music’. It must be a ecosystem, like Daniel said on the conference, where all parts (listeners, labels, press, users, developers) is living together in an ecosystem. By this way, the risk of people falling of is reduced as the ecosystem creates a dependence between all parts. The facebook-partnership illustrates how the ecosystem creates a some kind of relationship between all stakeholders. Spotify’s innovation is not their pricing model, it’s the insight of making the innovations happens at the same plane where the consumtion of music is. I believe for the last years until now, the time was not right to make this happens. But now, when the piracy alternatives began more dangerous by the days, and the right holders needs more listeners for the same income, the crowd have to be involved in the machinery. This is what the basics of the Spotify Apps. Spotify now hires the crowd to enhance the ecosystem, creating a emotional depenedence between all partners, and thus making file sharing obsolute. For example, I feel “the music on spotify” is the correct music, I cannot believe how I could stick with music acquired from other sources, as they won’t be present in my relationship with the social music. Thus, in this way, file sharing are made unintresting by these things. So what Spotify Apps do is the next step to create the ultimate business.
This is a big transition that is going on with Spotify. I also believe that the Spotify Apps is a sign of that the core business of Spotify is going to change additionally in 2012. Spotify, as now is still a very closed ecosystem, but by the introduction of Spotify Apps, it has been revaled that Spotify will make a true change to their way to present music info. Spotify Apps is still only the beginning. In my world, I have a feeling that the Apps were the opening of the service onto the listeners, next step is to open up for the artists to tighter their positions with the listernes. By the coming 15 months, I think we’ll see big changes in the behaviour artists is featured on Spotify. While apps changes how the discovery of artists is made, the upcoming upgrade will be a somewhat truly change to how artists could take advantadge of their fans.
What will happen? My instight is that the artist pages on Spotify as we see it today, will begin a process of significant changes in the coming 6 months, or at least a part of the process. The reason for this hypothesis is the replacement of the AllMusic pictures with the cover of the most popular release, indicating that such data will be more dynamical and that core funcationality is going to be altered. And the many issues that are reported on Get Satisfaction on lost playlists and weird behaviour is probably meaning that huge changes to the fundamentals of Spotify is going to be altered slighly.
The artist direction, the next after the apps
In 2009, I asked on the same forum about the artist profile, and one of the reps said that in the future artists will get more control. I believe so. The iTunes ping is a huge improvement that Spotify must make a response to. Now, as Spotify Apps is the third milestone after the Social revolution and the apps, the next milestone is in the artists way. The new functionality I believe will come late or by early next year (2013), is going to be a huge change in how artists and fans can interact with them together on Spotify. The new artist view, will probably create a new section for developers, “Artists account”. WiMP already has it, and allows artists to create their starring playlists. These artist accounts will allow the individual artists to customize the artist view, which will have a completely new structure. Instead of presenting all releases on the first page, the first page will be hub where the communication with the fans is done alongside with the most intresting things. A twitter feed, a personal blog and a more, more detailed biography. Reviews will be more detailed and presented on the artist view.
One remarkable thing of the change is the feature called Artist Embassadors. Artists should also be able to starr fans, and also be able to select specific users to become ambassedor. Users, who have helped the artist much with spreading and is true fans, could for example like customer champions, get access to prerelease content, discounts on tickets, and even hand out free downloads to the users but also releases that no one else could get access to, like early demos and special editions. Music is social and making the artist involved in the social communication is something that could make Spotify better for the artists, especally indie artists who are more dependent on their listeners.
These changes requires a huge change to the technical infrastructure of the Spotify backends and this is what I believe going on.