Innovations Within Spotify’s Platform: an Immersive Music Archive
As the music industry expands and evolves with every generation new mediums and avenues are constantly brought to the public’s trending eye. Over the past decade an uprise of various digital streaming services have overtaken the industry as a whole, creating both consumer satisfaction as well as artist controversy. These digital streaming platforms (or DSPs) greatly influence the era of “new music business”. Streaming services allow for music consumers to access thousands of songs at the disposal of their mobile devices. In a move to somewhat negate physical releases, streaming platforms allow for a completely digital music archive where people can collect and share music all under one medium taking the concept of social media to a sole direction of music. Among the trending DSPs is a platform that has drastically rounded since its infancy running under the title of Spotify.
. Spotify was launched in 2008 by CEO Daniel Ek. Since then the platform has developed an average of one hundred and forty million monthly users comprised of sixty million paying users. Spotify is offered to users with a monthly fee of $9.99 with the first three months being $0.99 as of May 2017. Spotify also has a student discount available to those who have limited funds while their stay at college. This fee lowers the standard to half the general public listing “and (comes with) Hulu’s Limited Commercials plan for just $4.99 per month” (Spotify Premium). As if these options were not enough the company also lists a family bundle of six people per account for $14.99 a month. However despite offering paid subscriptions, Spotify also has a free version of the application dubbed as “Freemium”. This option allows users to maintain access to Spotify’s full archive however limits them to streaming with advertisements and without the option for offline play. Incorporating a free version to the platforms business introduces consumers to an appealing service often resulting in them being compelled to later purchase an actual subscription once the constant advertisement grow tiresome and music infatuation leads to a need for music even when internet is unavailable. Spotify’s features of convenience and quality are what compels the public to succumb to a monthly subscription which adds towards the platforms grossing sales.
. With complete access to Spotify’s full platform enabled, consumers are left with the ability to have individualized reign over their music preferences. Spotify allows users to sift through artists, albums and both user as well as company curated playlists in order to obtain preferred music of the user’s choice whether it be an old favorite or a new, yet to be discovered.
As an artist begins a release whether it be a single track or album they have the option to make it available on DSPs, Spotify being one of the main choices. With this users are able to simply search one of their favorite music creators utilizing Spotify’s search bar and once at the artist’s page they have options to follow the artist, journey through the artists released music, and find playlists, artists and albums related to the searched artist. Attached to the artist’s page along with each of their albums is a “radio station” compiled with songs related to the selection of music that a user has pulled up which allows for a smoother listening experience if users want to listen to songs of similar style and mood.
As for the extent of Spotify’s curated playlist there is an endless count of both brand and user generated playlist open for the listening for both paying and free subscriptions. Users are able to also follow playlists in addition to artists if they find a particular playlist they thoroughly enjoy. Playlists range from artist to mood themed allowing for even a newcomer to the world of music to receive the full experience of the current music collection. One popular example of Spotify’s notorious playlists is Discover Weekly. This is a playlist that is generated using a user’s recent listens during their application usage. Every week this playlist comprises new music catered to the user exposing them to new and grasping tracks on a weekly basis. In addition as previously stated, many of these playlists are generated by the application’s users bringing music sharing to a whole new level. Many user playlists have thousands of followers showing how Spotify has built a program where not only the company has control over the listening experience but also fellow users.
Although engaging playlists are what help to make Spotify unique, other digital distribution platforms utilize curated playlists as well. These DSPs include Soundcloud, Apple Music, Amazon music and Bandcamp.
Similar to Spotify, Soundcloud is an “open platform that directly connects creators and their fans across the globe” (About Soundcloud). However, being that Soundcloud established its perception as solely an open platform to post one’s own music it lacks the professionalism associated with other platforms like Spotify. Unlike Spotify there is no need for an artist to be signed with a label of independent distributor in order to post their tracks. Thus the platform is filled with low quality music that can be posted by anyone with a laptop and internet. In addition, aside from the aesthetic of the application itself being fairly minimalistic the features are also fairly limited. For listeners the only playlists that are available are created by other playlists, cutting out brand curated playlists. In addition Soundcloud does not allow you to download your music nor does it allow a continuous flow for finding new music. Although you have the option to search for artists and their music, once at the artist’s page you are limited to music they have posted and the music they have shared. As a whole Soundcloud seems to have maintained its infancy by lacking a continuous growth from the start compared to Spotify which started off in the same place but developed into a well profited platform. Furthermore, Soundcloud recently released a paid version of their application however due to lack of addons as well as cooperation with notorious artists it has yet to gain the attention like any of its rival DSPs such as Apple Music.
Apple Music is a fairly new. streaming platform that holds many of the same features as Spotify but under an Apple filter. Apple Music although in its infancy has “garnered about half the number of Spotify’s paying users”(Digital Trends). However, it is because it is in its infancy (only being released in 2015) that the service has still a stretch to go before they match Spotify’s listeners let alone the various integrated music discovery outlets. On the flipside Apple Music does hold a few more song than Spotify tapping out at about forty million where Spotify is left at just over thirty million. Apple music also allows users to transfer any digital music they have gathered before using the service to their playlists within Apple Music. Despite these aspects of which Apple music has the clear upper hand, Spotify still leaves with the more well rounded and popular user friendly platform which is understandable considering the age difference. Apple music is undoubtedly a proper rival to Spotify in contrast to services like Soundcloud or Amazon Music.
Regarding Amazon Music, it is a DSP that has been released even more of recent than Apple music being launched only in 2016. It is due to this as well as its intimidating competition that this platform’s listeners are mainly comprised of Amazon Prime users who receive a subscription to the platform along with their Prime membership. However, the included membership is their base version and users must pay an extra $7.99 a month to gain unlimited access even alongside Prime. With that being said Amazon Prime does not offer a free version which limits the appeal of a younger audience who does not have funds to support their music interest right away. As for the platforms pros, Amazon Music does provide brand curated playlists similar to that of Spotify and Apple Music as well as offers offline playback. Amazon Prime is a fairly well established new comer to the streaming game but still lacks “in mood-based playlists and music-discovery tools”(Time) that many users can find within Spotify.
All previously described platforms come head to head being that they tackle music service at similar angles that cater towards listeners but what about the artist themselves? It is because of the need of artists themselves especially at the beginning of their career that retailing platforms such as Bandcamp have been established in the music industry. Spotify only pays artists a fraction of a penny for every play they receive whereas Bandcamp allows artists to post music at retail price. Consumers as able to go onto the platform and find the artist of their choice while not paying for a subscription but instead for the music of the artist themselves. “When you buy something on Bandcamp, whether it’s digital music, vinyl, or a t-shirt, ticket or cassette, 80–85% of your money goes to the artist” (About Bandcamp).This service is a step back from competitive streaming and more towards buying music digitally (although as a listener you can simply listen to tracks on Bandcamp). As far as competition this where Bandcamp comes to a silence being that it is simply a platform utilized for artists to sell their music and for listeners to obtain an ownership of their song catalogs. Bandcamp’s design is very minimalistic and has no curated playlists unless made by an artist for retail. It is because Bandcamp focuses on artist profit more so than user convenience that it is still at a lower consumer rate than platforms such as Spotify.
To further enforce Spotify’s influence, data results show the perception between ten college students on not only the platform but streaming as a whole. Being that young adults make up a majority of the demographic for digital music the focus group displays a solid example of the opinion on Spotify and its competitors. Asked only five questions; do you utilize streaming services, what platforms do you use, if you pay for any which ones and why, what do you feel are general perceptions on Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Bandcamp as well as what device do you mainly listen to music on? As a whole the majority of the group utilized Spotify and Apple music as their main streaming platforms. This was due to the fact that Spotify and Apple Music are the more well designed out of the listed applications. In addition, out of the ten student only three did not pay for Spotify and one of the three did not utilize Spotify at all. However, seven out of ten not only used Spotify but were paying subscribers as well. The study found that because they were students Spotify was the best bang for their buck in the sense that with Spotify’s student discount they were receiving so many features at an almost irrelevant price. The students as a whole listened to the majority of their music on their phones and laptops equally. Spotify’s cross controllability between a user’s phone and computer allow for a seamless transition for music listeners constantly switching back and forth and in the end leaves Spotify as the more favored of the streaming outlets.
In its entirety, Spotify is a well seasoned platform that has constsntly evolved since its launch leaving it as a highly regarded option for streaming platforms. Spotify offers payment options for every demographic whether the listener be a student, family member, a devoted music enthusiast and even someone who has no money to afford a subscription. At the platform’s fullest, Spotify provides features that make it hard for users to find the need for more. Curated playlists in conjunction with endless options within each tab allow for users to have a continuous experience where they can solely focus on listening to music. To top it off the application has an aesthetic that upholds its professional perception that the public carries in regard to the service. Spotify is among the many emerging DSPs that have overtaken the music industry and is surrounded by many promising services. However, due to it’s age coupled with the momentum it has maintained since launch, the platform has consistently kept a lead in front of its competitors. Thus if Spotify were to further maintain its momentum to constantly evolve it would undoubtedly pave a path for music distribution in the future of music business.
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