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Spotify lines up against iTunes

As reported by Tim Bradshaw in the FT today, and also on the Guardian blog there is a new release of Spotfiy out imminently that will allow you to import your current music collection and mix it seamlessly with the Spotify streaming service.  The great thing about on-demand streaming services is the range of music you can access, but the big problem is that they are unlikely to ever have everything you want to listen to, with the result that most of us have had to run with two different music players.  This release gets over that problem which is a big step forward and will eliminate a lot of the distinction between owning and accessing music, something I expect to hasten the inevitable paradigm shift from an ownership mindset to an access mindset.  As Spotify founder Daniel Ek says, this is a huge shift in mindset and whilst I expect it will now happen more quickly it will still take some time.

Many people, if not most people, currently use iTunes to play the music they own and this move puts Spotify firmly in competition with Apple’s market leading music service.  It will be interesting to see if that changes Apple’s view on the suitability of Spotify’s iPhone app for inclusion in the App Store.  It would be a pretty cut-and-dried anti-competitive move if they chose to ban it now.

The other big thing in this release is deeper integration with Twitter and Facebook.  From the video below it appears as if you log in via Facebook or Twitter your friends will be listed in the Spotify client and you will be able to share tracks by dragging and dropping.  This should be good news for artists who will get more publicity and for Spotify as they seek to grow their user base.

When I first met Daniel a couple of years ago he told me how he would leverage third party social networks rather than build a social network inside Spotify.  In the intervening period some of his competitors opted for the opposite strategy but given Facebook’s announcement yesterday it seems to me his decision to focus resources on building a great music service looks vindicated.  I dwell on this point because I think the same will be true for many other consumer internet services.

From a commercial perspective Spotify have announced that they now have 320,000 customers on the €9.99 per month subscription service, up from 250,000 three months ago.

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