Written by Jonathan Wexler
There is a ton of competition right now in the streaming music scene but market-leader out of Sweden Spotify has really pulled ahead of the pack.
At the end of 2019, Spotify had 32.4 million premium subscribers in North America according to the article “Spotify’s Still Gaining Share in the U.S. Music Streaming Market” by Adam Levy. And as of this past June, Spotify had 36% of the streaming market worldwide according to the article “Spotify Usage and Revenue Statistics (2020)” from “The Business of Apps website.
So what makes Spotify such a winner in the hyper-competitive music and technology world?
I know Sweden has a history of supporting its artists and technology companies, but Spotify is perhaps now in a class all its own.
There is a lot of talk these days about platforms and all the big technology companies are trying to entice their users with streaming music packages. These include Apple Music, YouTube Music, and many others, including Jay-Z with his platform Tidal.
Spotify has basically beat them all to the punch by having the most comprehensive product available for the maximum amount of devices and operating systems. Spotify has standard apps for Apple and Android phones, it has full fledged applications for Windows computers and Mac computers, and it goes much further by providing, for example, apps for SmartTVs, and even a Linux application. Granted, Linux desktops are used by only something like 1% of users, but it is an influential user base because a lot of very technical and digitally artistic people use Linux like programmers, animators, and film compositors who undoubtedly like to listen to their music too.
What’s also quite cool about Spotify is that it “knows” which device you are listening on and allows you to seamless hand-off to another device. For example, if you are out for jog listening to Spotify on your Android phone and then return home and want to get a richer acoustic experience by listening on your Mac, there are controls in the app to see all your devices and then you can just select the one you want to switch to, in this case as mentioned your Mac. You music is basically uninterrupted, continuing to play on the device you switched to.
When I first discovered this “awareness” I realized this would not be possible from companies like Apple as however agnostic they try to be, they will always favour their own devices. Spotify comes at this with an outsider’s approach and is probably part of why they have become such a worldwide success and perhaps the best known technology company out of the EU right now.
But What About the Music?
I personally have a very eclectic taste in music. I listened to a lot of 60s hippy and yippie music in high school, but also went to a lot of rock concerts like Bon Jovi and U2. Nowadays my taste has broadened much wider with the help of Spotify, and especially their playlists which can span dozens of hours on all kinds of conceivable themes. I listened to a lot of classical music when pop and rock became too much, I listened to smooth jazz for some mellowness, I even listened to John Williams’ musical scores and some traditional music too and a lot of hip hop to round things out.
Basically every song I ever wanted to listen to is available on Spotify, and what’s more, through playlists and something called “artist” radio, for example “Lady Gaga Radio”, you get a selection of an artist’s tracks along with related music, so there is always something new to discover, and different ways to discover it.
And What Does it Cost?
Basic Spotify use is free but it is significantly hindered. An example is you choose an artist and listen to a selection of their tracks without being able to pick specific songs you want to hear. The free version is a good teaser but it really doesn’t do justice to the premium features.
One of the best premium features I found is the ability to download songs (over Wifi at home), for example whole playlists, or all of your favorites, which obviously cuts down bandwidth usage to 0 since the songs are stored locally.
When I first started using Spotify I was burning through data and thought I would quickly use up my 2 GB of cell data in no time. It so happens that I since got a bump-up to 8 GB of data on my phone, but now that I downloaded my music with Spotify Premium I have barely used 1 GB of data over the month.
The whole thing is rather mind-blowing, that is, the amount of music you get, a way to eliminate expensive cellular band width usage, and at what I think is a fair price. Speaking of which, in Canada, Spotify Premium has a variety of plans starting from $4.99 a month for a student, to $9.99 a month for an adult, as well as something called Duo and Family plans. Check out their website for more details.
I think for a lot of reasons, no matter how much the likes of Apple, YouTube, and others will try, there is no unseating Spotify as the best solution out there for your music. They are a software company after all and so are always improving, with a new concerted effort on podcasts, and some other non-musically oriented content. But, I would argue, at least for music, they simply can’t be beat.
Try it. I think you’ll like it.