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Spotify's Original Shows Take Aim at Netflix

Spotify has done pretty well for itself by providing an enormous library of streaming music (and not paying artists very much for the privilege), but apparently, original video is the wave of the future. Like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video before it, Spotify is expanding its streaming video service by creating 12 new series, unique to the Swedish streaming service.

Bloomberg Technology reported the company's new initiative, which Spotify will supposedly flesh out sometime in the near future. For the time being, the company has promised a dozen new original shows, ranging from one or two minutes up to 15 minutes in length. Actor Tim Robbins is one of the big names involved, and it seems like there will be some nonfiction content as well from Russell Simons: co-founder of Def Jam records.

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Unlike Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which restrict most of their original video content to users with paid subscriptions, Spotify's programs will be available for both free and paid users. (The company did not specify whether this will happen on a sliding timescale, or whether all users will get the content simultaneously.)

While Spotify did not offer exhaustive descriptions of each program, it has revealed a few tidbits about what to expect. "Landmark" sounds like the simplest pitch of the bunch, with each episode of this documentary series detailing an important band, album or phenomenon in music history. "Rush Hour" has more of a reality-show feel, giving hip-hop artists a musical challenge which they must then perform for the approbation of a crowd.

Tim Robbins will star in an as-yet-unnamed mockumentary about dance music, while "Drawn & Recorded" will be an animated series about significant artists and events in music history. (Coen Brothers fans, take note: producer T-Bone Burnett is slated to narrate this one.)

Technically, Spotify already hosts video content, but it's mostly just BBC and Comedy Central clips that have already aired elsewhere, or what look like user generated YouTube content. If Spotify's video plans pan out, it could wind up as sort of an upmarket Vevo, producing watchable content for the music niche. If not, it always has a library of more than 30 million songs on which to fall back.