Why I canceled my Spotify Premium subscription

Some of the problems and why this is about value, not money

I used to pay for Spotify Premium, I did it since December 2013 until January 2017. I was getting, high quality stream, no ads and offline playback, ‘even on mobile’ as they publicise as a key selling point. Good stuff.

After a while something started to feel different, so I sat down and contemplated the facts and features, while pronouncing Hamlet’s famous words: ‘to premium or not to premium, that is the question’.

Truth to be told, I think Spotify can be an expensive service when it comes to their standard pricing, and please don’t come to me with the now universal metric of how many ‘cups of coffee’ a month are the exact equivalent, is not about that.

As a matter of fact, I don’t consider £9.99 a month, by it self, as that much. However, I do consider £120 a year (119.88 to be more precise) a more significant amount. That’s the truth behind this pricing models when you put them into yearly perspective, and for me, a more clear way to validate my assumptions. The real cause was value, not money.


The Problem(s)

Value > Price

This is not about pricing, but about value, something I believe in and that I’m driven by, also something I stopped to perceive from Premium.

I do pay for other subscriptions based on this premise, services like Headspace or Squarespace, for example.

The first, a meditation app that helped me to get into this practice and from which I perceived and experienced serious benefits.

The second, a website builder and content management platform that saves me the hassle of having to learn WordPress, deal with hosting, backups and any other issues that come with having a website, while providing me really good looking templates.

So, when it comes to Spotify, I stopped perceiving value out of their Premium offering. Beyond the removal of advertising every 30 minutes, there is no major difference from Free. There are more substantial differentiators when it comes to the iPhone app, however, as I now work from home most of the time, the majority of my usage have been switched to my laptop and tablet.

Catalogue Inconsistency

Some key artists don’t have their entire catalogue available on the streaming platform, or are entirely absent.

We all have been into that moment when you are on the go, a song or an album pops into your head, and you need to listen to it immediately, just to realise (or remember) that is not on Spotify. Even worse? You might have that record at home…

That lead me to the following issues:

  1. An album available today might not be there tomorrow (it happened to me). We all remember stories from artists like Prince or Taylor Swift removing their work overnight. Yes, is not a recurrent issue, but it happens, and when it does, it defeats the purpose of the service you are paying for.
  2. On Mobile: To play a digital copy I own of any (missing) albums/artist on the Spotify app, it would require a Premium account. I can do the same, for free, with the built-in music player.

‘Cable TV’ Syndrome

The biggest of my problems is, how the platform is not helping me to find new music, instead had seriously diminished this; entirely replacing it with instant gratification generated by playlist filled with matching songs, making me totally unaware of what I’m listening to, and hard to remember if I want to play it again a couple of days later. By consequence I started to experience what I called the ‘cable tv’ syndrome.

Remember back in the day when cable tv was a thing? You will have hundreds of channels to watch, yet, there was nothing to see, passing channel after channel, to end up with the usual 4–5, or just turning it off.

That’s exactly was started to get out of Spotify, millions of songs, but I don’t know what to listen.

More and more I found myself not knowing what I was on the mood for, just to end up with the same usual playlists: ‘Discovery Week’ & ‘Release Radar’, which are good, yes, but I also like to enjoy a full album, not just bits and pieces.

So after a while, I would end up going back to my classics, because they never let me down (Listening to my absolute favourite album in the world, Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of The Moon as I write this) and for that, I really don’t see the point on paying Premium.


Conclusion

Would I get back at Premium? Not at the moment, not even on student price; but maybe in the future, only if they can offer something different that what I already know.

If there’s something that we can agree, is that streaming services not only contributed to drastically change the way we consume music, but also the way we perceive it, totally commoditising it. This means, that major differentiators need to emerge in order for customer to perceive value.

Providing millions of songs through the internet without worrying about storage is not a ‘wow’ factor anymore, is the norm.

At the moment Spotify remains the leader, several millions of users ahead of their closest (and growing) rival, Apple Music; they also have a far better user experience and interface in comparison; but for how long will this be enough?

I do believe the service can and should bring new features, not only as a way to improve, to differentiate from the rest and keep audiences engaged; but these will need to be beyond just enhancements, because if there’s something that we have been able to witness and lear from the likes of Tidal, is that better sound quality and exclusive releases probably are not going to be enough to get people’s attention and monthly subscriptions.


Coming Next

What could Spotify bring to their service to differentiate and add value?

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