Free mobile version of Spotify to be introduced

According to the Wall Street Journal, Spotify is about to introduce a free mobile version.

The new ad-supported offering will allow nonpaying mobile users to play a limited number of songs on demand, but will mostly serve up music based on the user’s input, much like custom radio services such as Pandora.

This move makes a lot of sense.

The usual path of a Spotify user was to get the free desktop version and then they would eventually upgrade to premium. Either because of the ads or because of the mobile version which is currently limited to premium users.

But given that traditional computers are on the wane, Spotify is slowly losing their only channel for users to upgrade.

Of course the free mobile version will cannibalize some of the premium users. But how many users are there that would pay €10 for the full mobile version, that would swap that for a free radio service (with only limited on-demand songs)? Probably not many.

Hat tip for getting that deal with the record labels though. Must have been a nightmare to negotiate.

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Do we really care what music our friends like?


Back in 2011 Spotify said that “Music is one of the most social things there is.” In what sounded like a threat they added “You’ll now start seeing new music posts and play buttons all over your newsfeeds.” And indeed, we did. Even when the posts became more balanced, I never really felt that it was that interesting to know what my friends were listening to (still far more interesting than pictures of food, offspring, or offspring eating food though. You know who you are!).

The other day I came across this article by Robert Andrews where he concludes:

“For me, music is not “social” but is, in fact, the most personal cultural artefact imaginable. So, when Spotify has shown me what my friends are listening to, I just realise this — I love my friends, but I hate their music.”

I think he’s absolutely right – of all possible sources of music recommendation, “what my friends listen to” is probably the least relevant one.

But what’s the real reason for the facebook integration?

I doubt that giving people valuable music recommendations is really the reason why Spotify wants to flood our newsfeeds with music posts. The real reason – and far more compelling at that – is probably just to get some buzz and visibility on facebook, be it relevant or not. If I see 10 times a day that someone in my network listens to SOMETHING on SPOTIFY, there’s a chance that once I decide to try online streaming Spotify’s going to be the first thing that comes to my mind.

In other words, Spotify is currently in the growth stage of the product life cyle. The advertising focus during that phase is typically to build awareness in the mass market (see Kotler’s classic ‘Marketing Management‘ or one of the summaries (e.g.).

In conclusion, Spotify does the absolutely right thing in terms of marketing their product. Helpful recommendations, however, are an entirely different story.


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WiMP enters German market

After the music streaming services Rdio, and Deezer only recently entered the German market, yet another player will join the merry crowd : WiMP (yes… let’s hope they change their name for the English-speaking market!) is the name of the service, and users beta access can be requested on their German website

So what are they bringing to the market? As Thor Martin Jensen, Global Editorial Manager of WiMP said on, editorial content will be at the core of the service. Also, their plan is to allow the music industry to participate in the development of the service.

According to Musikmarkt, WiMP the editorial content will come in the form of playlists, recommendations and other editorial content that’s targeted at the German music market. In addition to offering the latest releases, WiMP will also focus on allowing users to “rediscover the back catalogue”.

Let’s see how that goes. By the way, Spotify, where art thou?

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Rhapsody Acquires Napster International

Rhapsody announced on Thursday that they have acquired Napster International, i.e., the non-US branch of Napster, which is currently operating in the UK and in Germany.

Unlike in the US, where the Napster brand is put on ice, Rhapsody will retain the Napster brand in the UK and Germany, because of its high brand awareness. The service as such will be replace by Rhapsody technology though, and Napster subscribers will be migrated to Rhapsody’s infrastructure by March.

After more than a decade in the US market, the music streaming pioneer had bought Napster US  from its owner Best Buy back in October 2011. With the acquisition of Napster International, Rhapsody now for the first time moves to foreign territory, shortly after Spotify entering the US market last year.

Rhapsody says they have over 1 million paying subscribers, compared to 3 milion that Spotify claims to have (see yesterday’s post).

read more – Music for Everyone?


The other day I pointed out four reasons why is worth checking out. While certainly brings a fresh breeze into the market, I believe they will have a tough time. Here’s why:

Let’s look again at what lets stand out in the ecosystem of streaming services. The biggest difference between and the existing players is clearly the user interface, which is designed to be very easy and intuitive. In the launch presentation Rob Lewis, chairman of, said that the market of digital music is still in its infancy and has not yet reached the mainstream. Players like Spotify, at the same time, do not address the mainstream market, but a small niche instead:

The graph shows the audience along the two axes “music knowledge” (from “music listener” to “music guru”) and tech knowledge (from tech laggard” to “tech wizard”). According to Lewis, a majority of existing music services (including Spotify, Napster, Pandora, but also iTunes) are “designed for people who know a lot about music and also are technically very literate” (i.e., the upper right quadrant), and fail to meet mainstream requirements., on the other hand, focusses on the remaining untapped market, that represents a majority of 80% of the entire market, according to their analyses.

Quite frankly, I think that is not going to be able to get those remaining 80% of the market, and I’m going to explain why.

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Grooveshark shuts down in Germany

As of today Grooveshark has shut down in Germany. According to their website, they did so because because of “excessive operating costs”. They continue to imply that this is the fault of the GEMA, and suggest to get in touch with them to help bring down these costs.

It would appear they are referring to the recently announced rates for streaming services (as mentioned in a previous post). Which is kinda funny, given that they don’t even pay any license fees to the GEMA in the first place. As the GEMA says in their press release in response to Grooveshark’s accusations:

Grooveshark has shut down their service in Germany – contrary to their claims – not because of excessive operating costs.
In fact, Groovshark refuses generally to pay any fees whatsoever for their service. Grooveshark has never even been in touch with the GEMA in any way yet. (source)

So what Grooveshark forgets to mention is that they don’t, never did, and probably never wanted to give money to the artists that they have on their website. Contrary to streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, or Simfy, Grooveshark do not have deals with the labels, nor do they pay any royalties. In fact, they are being sued by all 4 majors because of that.

Here’s the message that Grooveshark shows to visitors with German IP adresses:

At the bottom they recommend that German users should use Simfy instead. Here’s what Simfy says on their blog:

simfy AG today announced a transatlantic collaboration with US-based Escape Media Group and its music streaming service Grooveshark. In response to Germany’s music streaming regulatory environment, has begun referring visits from German IP addresses to The goal of the agreement is to provide German music fans with continued streaming access to the songs and artists they love. (source)

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Rdio to launch in Germany

It’s getting cozy in the German online music streaming market: After the recent launches of Deezer and, US based Rdio now announced their Germany launch starting January 12, 2012 (

Spotify, any news?

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4 Reasons is worth checking out

Recently I mentioned the new streaming service Here are a couple of things about them that are quite interesting (the following is all based on their launch press conference video and their press release):

1) Innovative User Interface

Instead of a “boring” Excel spreadsheet look, wants to give users a more visual user experience. So instead of typing in your artist and listening by album, as you would do with for services such as Spotify or Simfy, presents a colourful interface where the user can browse playlists by the three categories moods (e.g., “Chilling out”, “Sunday Morning”), genres (e.g., “Pop”, “Rock”) and Best of (e.g., “Best of 90s”, “Best of 80s”):

2) Curated Playlists

The playlists on are not user generated, or put together by some algorithm, but instead they are curated playlists: also features a wide selection of expertly curated music channels to suit your every mood at the touch of a button making playing music online with as easy as switching on your radio or CD player.

One of these experts will be Imogen Heap, who is joining as associate editor, and also had an impact on the design of the service. According to “many more respected artists [are] joining [the] team”.

3) Introductory Pricing Strategy

While the monthly fee is the standard $/€/£ 4.99 per month for web-only and $/€/£ 9.99 for web + mobile access, comes with an introductory price of 99 p/ct per month for the first 3 months. In contrast to Spotify et al. there is no ad-supported version of

4) Cooperation with Hewlett Packard

To get their feet off the ground has entered a “global partnership” with Hewlett Packard to give them “instant scale”.  The world’s largest computer manufacturer will have “preloaded on all their devices” (whatever that may mean, a link to the website?), and allow “instant access to music” for their customers,  introducing the to an estimated 60m users a year.

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Finally: GEMA and BITKOM reach agreement for online music services

Good news for the German online music market: After years of negotiations GEMA and the industry association BITKOM have finally reached an agreement on online music services. As announced in a press release on Dec 8, the agreement covers the compensation for authors, that music services have to pay to the GEMA, and allows for flat licence fees for streaming services.

In a follow-up press release on Dec 21 the GEMA (apparently without having a definitive an agreement with BITKOM, heise) further announced a new set of tariffs that apply to ad-supported services.

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