While browsing Mashable today, I came across this story talking about Spotify’s expansion into Australia and New Zealand. The service debuted in 2008 by invitation only in the UK and has been available in the U.S. since July 14, 2011. Shortly after the U.S. debut, I was impressed enough to sign up for a premium account at around $10 a month. After less than a year, I’m tempted to cancel my service. For the most part, I’m satisfied with the catalog of music, but I still think the mobile app is terrible.
Speaking of applications, it’s also a terrible idea to force people to download an application before accessing the service. It would be very beneficial if one could go to a friend’s house, log-in to the website, and just use the application in the browser. I understand the computer application is necessary to coordinate music syncing and to access local music files, but the in-browser application would be a welcome addition.
Regarding the mobile app, all I can say is that it’s…acceptable. Sure, I can access the files I’ve synced and remotely access the entire Spotify catalog, but that’s the extent of the user experience. On the computer application, there are many more options and plugins that can enhance the service. I love using the “Radio” service which offers something very similar to Pandora. The difference is that Spotify offers a better quality version of the mp3s. On the mobile app, users (even Premium subscription members) are unable to launch plugins like this. By not including these options in the mobile app, it makes it harder for users like myself to find and listen to new music. The only way to find music is to look at the “What’s New” tab which is just a listing of recent Spotify additions. (see below)
Another thing I suggest the app developers work on is a better way to organize music within the app. Just a simple addition to let users list their music by artist, album, or whatever would do wonders for the app. A final thing the developers should consider is the ability to log-in to the app WITHOUT a Facebook account. I have no problem linking with Facebook, but I know many people worry about privacy more than I do, as seen in the reviews for the iTunes version of the app.
Beyond the aforementioned mobile app issues, Spotify is facing new competition from services like Rdio and, most recently, Sony’s Music.Unlimited service. If Spotify fails to make changes now, the more experienced founders of Rdio and the executives at Sony will quickly steal market share. On top of increased competition, Spotify has received criticism about how it rewards the individual artists that offer their music. Granted, this is a problem for many of these types of services, but Spotify has received a lot of the criticism because of its position.
Overall, Spotify offers a strong service that needs some tweaks to make it sustainable. If the app developers can create a top-notch experience, more people will be willing to make the jump from Freemium to Premium.
Anyone else use Spotify or another mobile music app? Let me know in the comments what you think should be changed!