Category Archives: spotify

Spotify goes social with Facebook, supports local music library

Spotify has announced a set of new features with the aim of “evolving into a total music management platform”, according to today’s blog post. There are two key features, available to both free and paying users.

The first is a link to Facebook, enabling you to see and share the playlists of your Facebook friends and to send them links to tracks.


Second, you can now Spotify to manage your local music library as well as what is available online. One reason to do this would be to fill gaps in Spotify’s database, formed by artists and labels who have not signed up – The Beatles, King Crimson, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and many more. This music can also be copied to mobile devices. It is not stated what format local music has to be in, but

Clearly the local music option may break shared playlists. Spotify will link to the same track in its own library where possible, or else come up with a replacement – maybe the same track performed by a tribute band, or who knows what?

Spotify is a game changer, partly because  thanks to the high quality of its software, and partly because it comes close to an ideal concept for listeners: play anything you like, wherever you like, and for free. Whether this is a viable business model for the music industry is open to question, though the combination of advertising and premium subscribers does provide some income.

The most interesting aspect is the Facebook link. It is another example of how Facebook is worming its way into other online services and helps its goal of being your key online identity, at least for social matters.

A YouTube video has a demo of the new features.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio has social features, unsocial price

Logitech has announced the Squeezebox Radio, similar in concept to the Squeezebox Boom which I reviewed earlier this year, but smaller, cheaper, and with a colour screen. It’s set to go on sale soon at $199.00.


The Squeezebox Radio has a trendy new feature: Facebook integration:

Say you just discovered a new track listening to Pandora® on your Squeezebox Radio. Now you can tell your friends about it instantly. You can display your Facebook page right on the screen; and send music recommendations to your Facebook friends the moment you hear that amazing new track.

There’s no remote included as standard, but a $50 accessory pack will provide both a remote and a rechargeable battery, for portable use (but don’t go too far, because it depends on a wi-fi connection).

I am a big fan of the Squeezebox system, though it is not the easiest thing to explain in a few words. It’s interesting that Logitech is choosing to emphasise the internet radio aspect – handy for UK listeners threatened with the loss of FM – rather than the networked music player using a local server that is the original Squeezebox concept. I’ve used Squeezebox in conjunction with a Napster all-you-can-eat subscription, and the combination works very well indeed. Logitech needs to support Spotify, which has faster start-up and more mindshare than Napster. It’s a logical move for both companies. Facebook support on the other hand I can live without.

The snag with selling this as a radio is that it looks very expensive for what it is. $199 for a radio with Facebook support? The high price together with the complexity of setting up SqueezeCenter (if you do) is what holds the system back.

Logitech Squeezebox Radio on (Black)

Logitech Squeezebox Radio on (Red)

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Apple, Spotify, Google and iPhone: how to get into App Store

I was mildly surprised to see that Apple has approved Spotify for iPhone. Reason: if someone buys into the Spotify subscription model, why would they ever want to purchase music from iTunes, whether for iPhone or elsewhere? The iPhone version lets you listen to selected tracks offline, so that is not a problem.

Here’s a bit of speculation. Maybe Spotify benefited from the fallout over Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application – though Apple says it “continues to study it”. The Google Voice move drew articles like Apple is growing rotten to the core from TechCrunch. The question for Apple: did it want another high-profile, self-interested app rejection while still fighting Google Voice?

A further consideration is that Spotify is a tiny company compared to Google; music download/streaming enterprises come and go, and Spotify has a tricky task ahead making its business model work, as Mark Mulligan observes. Further, there’s nothing to stop Apple launching its own streaming, subscription service if it chooses to do so.

If Apple felt it had to choose between the threat of Google Voice, and the threat of Spotify, it is easy to see why it would pick the latter.

It follows that if you want to get your difficult, might-compete-with-Apple app into App Store, you should:

1. Build a decent-sized community around your service first.

2. Make a lot of noise when you submit your app.

3. Make even more noise should Apple reject it (this did not apply to Spotify, but it has worked for others).

4. Choose a moment when Apple is already embroiled in App Store battles that are more important than yours.

Publicity makes all the difference.

With all this, will Spotify succeed? The service is fantastic, but I’m not sure about people’s willingness to add £10 per month to their already-expensive iPhone contracts. However, I still think what I have argued for years: that in the digital age, music subscription makes more sense than paid-for permanent downloads.

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Spotify for iPhone looks great – if Apple allows it

I’m fascinated by the announcement of Spotify for iPhone.

Spotify lets you stream music from the company’s servers using a particularly fast and elegant user interface. The choice is huge, and of course shareable playlists are supported – I’ve had a lot of fun with these, using the desktop version.

Now here it comes for iPhone, with two big differences:

  1. You can synch playlists to the device for playing offline – essential on a mobile device.
  2. It’s not free; you have to be a premium user at £9.99 per month in the UK.

Although that is somewhat expensive, you get a lot for your money, including high quality 320kbs streaming on the desktop.

I noted a few further details from the comments to the above post:

  • An Android version is under development.
  • The iPhone app also works on the iPod Touch.
  • Offline works whether or not a connection is live. So if you pay for your data transfer, you could synch over wi-fi at home, then enjoy offline while travelling.

One thing that is not officially discussed is whether the company has verified with Apple that the application is acceptable. The post merely says:

… we’ve finally completed work on the Spotify app for the iPhone and sent it over to the nice people at Apple.

Now imagine you are Apple. The iPhone is in part built on the iPod, which was designed as a closed system using iTunes server and client to deliver music and apps to the device. Accepting an app that is an alternative to iTunes for music, and which to my mind represents the next generation of music delivery after downloading, is a threat to part of its business. It is not just that users might purchase less through iTunes. If users use Spotify rather than iTunes for their music, there are fewer barriers to moving from iPhone to Android or some other device (if Spotify chooses to support it). Reject the app then?

On the other hand, iPhone Spotify is for premium users only – not that many iPhone users will sign up. And if Apple rejects Spotify, there will be a very public cry of “monopoly” – whereas accepting it would be great PR.

Watching with interest – update soon.

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