After literally years of negotiations with US recording entities, the popular European music streaming service Spotify has entered the USA amid much fanfare. Although the streaming, cloud-based music service has only been around for a few weeks, some music lovers hail it as one of the greatest things to happen to the music industry in the last decade. [Never mind that other music streaming services already available in the USA include Rdio, Rhapsody and MOG. In fact, Rhapsody has been hanging out for about 10 years.]
Like other services, Spotify allows users to stream music, but Spotify has an extensive catalog of most major artists, along with independent and harder-to-find artists. To launch itself into the ears of North Americans, Spotify chose a (somewhat) exclusive invitation-only process for access to six months of unlimited service, absolutely free.
To spread the word and get musicians and companies in on the virtual event, Spotify doled out thousands of invitations to popular artists. Spotify also engaged brands and companies to offer exclusive invitations to brands’ audiences, featuring heavy hitters including Coca-Cola and Sprite, Chevrolet, Motorola and Reebok.
Spotify even gave individuals the power to share invitations. After completing a free registration on Spotify, most users could share their love of free music via Spotify invitations for friends and family.
Regardless of the actual exclusivity, the invitation-only model worked for Facebook and Google+. It can offer benefits for launchers, audiences and to brands and companies that partner up. Users can seek out their favorite brands and musicians for invites and exclusive offers. Artists and partner companies can drive traffic to specific online destinations with transparency, offering audience members an invitation in return for the start of the brand engagement.
- So how does the subscription service work, and is it worth it to pay for the additional features? Here’s a breakdown of the pricing model.
Free account: Play millions of tracks directly from your computer. Unlimited access for six months, then limited to 10 hours usage per month.
- Unlimited account ($4.99 per month): No advertisements and unlimited streaming of music.
- Premium account ($9.99 per month): Ditto the unlimited account, plus mobile app access and offline functionality for playlists.
Spotify also allows users to integrate their account with Facebook to share their musical tastes with friends, and to explore friends’ music. It also offers more functionality (phone, computer, etc.) than some of its competitors. Even with the thousands of free accounts registered, after just one week of its official US launch, Spotify was estimated to have generated close to 70,000 paid subscribers. Rdio, Rhapsody and MOG, you might want to watch your backs.