Sweeden-based Spotify started in 2006 as a way for users to stream music directly to their device while providing royalties to the artist. Along with Pandora, Google Music, Amazon Music and iTunes, Spotify is part of the music streaming revolution that came to life after major crackdowns on music downloading (piracy) services like Napster, eMule and Limewire. The age of the smart phone allowed users to have an on-demand radio in their pocket due to advances in wireless data technology. It became an attractive and convenient alternative that ended up working, since it was easier for users to stream music directly to their device than go through the trouble of pirating. The royalties are paid either by advertisements that play between songs or a subscription program.
- On-demand music streaming services from major artists
- The ability to pause and resume playback, unlike the radio
- Free to use, but includes subscription services for premium features
- Family subscription plans are available to save costs
- Prices are comparable to major competitors
- Works on nearly all modern smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops
- Advertisements and limited functionality still encourage some people to continue obtaining music illegally
- Extreme audiophiles will be disappointed with the sound quality of streamed music
- Received criticism from major artists, such as Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke, that the service does not give proper compensation to musicians
Spotify has managed to find a niche in the now-overpopulated music streaming market, though it has lost ground to the well-known powerhouse Pandora. It's still popular among users who claim there are less annoying advertisements from Spotify than from competitors. Using the service requires registration, but does not require payment. If the ads and limited features are a bummer, users can pay a small monthly fee to become a premium subscriber, removing the ads and allowing functionality like repeating songs, downloading music and unlimited use of the skip button. Subscription also improves sound quality and allows offline listening. Spotify is now a favorite among some artists, especially those signed with Universal Music Group or Merlin Network, and occasionally these artists will choose to have a new album be exclusively available on Spotify, at least for a limited time. This certainly drives traffic to the software, given the size of Universal's empire, and encourages fans to stay up to date by downloading it.