Everyone may be clamoring for Google+ invites, but Spotify invites were selling for almost five times the amount on eBay. The music service, which originally launched in Sweden in 2008, has cleared most legal hurdles to be available in the U.S. I was fortunate to get an early invite via Klout. Here are five interesting things about Spotify.
This works like the old Napster in the sense that you type in a song and boom, you can play it right then and there for free. Unlike Napster, this will be legal (that’s why it has taken Spotify so long to reach the U.S. market). While not all the songs I searched for came up, Spotify’s 15 million-song database was more than sufficient. The interface was up and running in less than a minute and fairly intuitive. It looks like a slimmed down version of iTunes.
Spotify seems to deliver on what Apple’s Ping was attempting to accomplish. You can connect to your friends via Facebook and either create playlists or see what your friends are listening to. There is also an easy “send” feature so that if you like a song you can pass it along to a friend. Your friend will receive an inbox notification. It’s interesting to note that music on Facebook is a vastly untapped market. While social gaming (Zynga) has gone bananas within social networks (even more so in China), music has been lagging, but the potential is huge.
If you are an advertiser, this is a great time to buy some “cheap” inventory that is highly directed toward influencers. These Spotify invites were difficult to obtain, so Spotify, like Google+ is awash with geeks and influencers. For the short term only, the ad-supported product is available in the U.S. Spotify plans to roll out its Unlimited ($4.99 per month for ad-free access to Spotify on a computer) and Spotify Premium ($9.99 per month for access on the computer and mobile devices) when appropriate.
Within minutes my iTunes library was connected via the Spotify interface. This was a nice feature so that I had all my music handy, while at the same time I could search for new tracks. Getting all formats of music to play was a bit of a challenge, especially when synching to an iPod or iPhone. For example, most M4P files are protected by iTunes. There’s also a scary message that everything will be erased from your iPod if you synch with Spotify. This user experience needs to be corrected quickly for the U.S. where we like things to be simplified (e.g., Apple’s success).
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