Spot If I am right about the future of Spotify.

As usual, the writing of this post was accelerated due to current events, namely the excellent new version of Spotify’s iPhone app.

But that’s not actually what I want to talk about today. In fact, there’s a much bigger picture here involving the brutally buzzwordised concept of “music-as-a-service”.

Ek-sactly what I was thinking

Everyone should be familiar with the Spotify app by now (and if not, email me for an invite) and some of you may even be avidly bopping away to the iPhone version- a much more powerful experience for the jailbroken contingent.  And Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek seems quite happy with this situation, explaining to Tech Crunch that “applications are better for swift music playback” and describing a strategy where the Spotify app may fill the role of quality music player in everything from mobiles to set-top boxes and games consoles.

However, the long term potential goes so much deeper than this.  If Spotify can get on top of their currently nascent API, couldn’t it become a way of accessing any music, any where, any time in familiar format?  This is a concept that should be familiar to anyone who has accessed their iPod music from other apps on the iPhone OS.

Sentimental Playlists

Ek himself has said that “playlists are the new mixtape” and to our generation, universal access to your collection may hold great currency.  At the same time, it keeps customers loyal to one service over another- if I have everything lined up in Spotify already, I may think twice before switching to the inevitable iTunes Cloud.  At the same time, Spotify integration in alternatives like the freeware Songbird or Doubletwist could help them steal marketshare from the iTunes goliath.

Indeed, by reaching users and potential subscribers in a variety of locations, this is the company’s best chance of touching a wider demographic.

Music-As-A-Service

So really what we’re looking at is Music-as-a-service.  For a trifling £9.99, I can listen to anything, on any device, at the touch of a button. Nostalgia on demand.

Okay, so it’s early days.  For now, I can forgive Daniel and co. while they break America and thrash out a few more licensing deals to flesh out the catalogue.  But from what I can see, all that can stop them is lack of infrastructure- something that I hope the peer-to-peer elements help them with in the face of Apple’s clear (but still mysterious) investment in the area.

One thing’s for sure, time is running out to get there first…

- Max Tatton-Brown

April 19th, 2010