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Opinion: 5 Things Spotify Must Do To Win in America

Improve Free Version (and Strengthen Revenue) With Radio

Considering Pandora’s success, it’s a little flummoxing that radio isn’t available—with advertisements of course—on Spotify’s Open (free) version. Pandora has very quickly shown how much listeners enjoy setting their mood or their genre and letting the universe decide what comes up next. Spotify may not have cataloged a “Music Genome”, as Pandora claims, but it’s not hard to have random playlists by genre, like Grooveshark has effectively done.

Seemingly, the substitution for radio comes from Spotify’s sharing of playlists across their service and Facebook. And that makes sense. Engaging others in their music is essential to keeping the service front and center in listener’s minds. But the types of listeners that look for playlists for working out, partying, laying low or getting your kid to fall asleep, are going to look for playlists regardless of the presence of radio. Many folks really want to scan and know their music lineups before hitting play; they’ll continue to do so.

But much of the listening public has become accustomed to setting the music in the background and going about cooking dinner, painting the bedroom or getting work done. Why tether them to playlists and force them to make evaluations? Just let them set their channel and go. As long as the usual advertisements still mix in, like Spotify’s standard playback, this should be a profitable feature.

Also on the Open subscription, you can’t listen to an un-owned track more than five times per month. This is pointless. If Spotify is trying to corner those who get obsessed with an album or a song and play it repeatedly, hoping they’ll convert to the Unlimited or Premium version when they hit the cap, they misunderstand internet users. Anyone could just listen to the song on repeat at Grooveshark or even on YouTube. Rules that feel like nickel and diming simply function to drive people away from a service.