The other day when I was talking to kids about copyright and open content, we had an interesting conversation about Spotify, which none of the kids had heard of. (!)
My perception of Spotify, prior to doing more research, was that it was a) legal way to download music for free. Good, contemporary music.
That’s pretty close to true. Except for the download part. Spotify has secured the rights for all the music it offers, and it is a very comprehensive list. (I’ve found previously unknown CDs of contemporary bands that I love there, so the marketing angle is working for me.) In the free version of Spotify, the music is all streamed. With wireless getting pretty prevalent, I’m not sure that really matters, especially since it’s fast, much faster than iTunes.
Like many other “free” services, there are also pay versions of Spotify, but the company claims that a large number of free users is key to its strategy. (I know; we’ve heard that before, only to see free options suddenly vanish, but Spotify does have years of track record in Europe.) The revenue model is largely based on ads, which play periodically in the free version. You can pay for premium versions that get rid of the ads or that allow downloads.
It’s not yet clear whether this model works, whether it’s fair to artists, etc. but I think that a free and legal way to download music can only be good.