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back to article Spotify: iPhone sideloads for £120 a year, unlimited

Streaming music sensation Spotify today announced a music download service for £120 a year. That's how much an annual subscription to Spotify Premium costs - and you'll need to be a Premium member to use its iPhone/iPod Touch native client. For now, it's all rather moot - there's no guarantee that Apple will approve this …

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Is this right?

Your article says:

"As with the Android client, the native iPhone version of Spotify rejects streaming as the method of acquiring music, and it's really just another proprietary music download player, pulling songs you request out of the Spotify desktop client's encrypted cache, and syncing them to a mobile player."

Yet their video clearly says it's streaming.

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Meh

I'll stick with iTunes. I've tried Spotify on the desktop and can't see what the fuss is about. Isn't it what Last.fm has been doing for ages? Oh, and it's free on iPhone too. Unless you can actually download the MP3, paying is crazy. What if Spotify goes out of business? I'd rather pay a pound or two per song and keep the actual file.

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FAIL

Hmm.

So it won't stream music on the fly? For me this takes most of the point of having it on an iphone away.

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I'd do this

£120 a year for access to whatever music I fancy is a good-enough deal for me. I already use Spotify for most of my music listening at home - being able to transfer the songs to my mobile would be well worth paying for.

I use a S60 phone though, so I'll have to wait for that version of the app to arrive...

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last.fm

Last.fm does have an iPhone client and does streaming to it - and doesn't charge.

How does that compare?

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Go

Sounds good

Only one problem: MP3. I'll stick with the streaming service (which I'm happy to pay for, as it's brilliant) until they do lossless downloads.

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Hmm

I'm a big fan of Spotify, and this looks really good. However, while I can see that they really need something like this to make money, I think £9.99/month is going to be too much for many people, when their desktop version is basically free. For an unlimited mobile streaming service I think I'd be happy with £5/month, but then I am a bit of a freetard.

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Anonymous Coward

Umm?

I don't quite understand what the deal actually is? You get to download whatever you want, in mp3 format, but it's locked away so you can't get to the files?

If so, it's pointless. In 5 years time, spotify will be gone, the computer I ran it on will be derelict, and the money I paid out will have been for nothing.

If they make it unlimited downloads with an open format in decent quality without all the catches, I'll be interested. Well, for a month anyway, by the end of 30 days I'd have a couple of years worth of new stuff to listen to.

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FAIL

Not only will it not stream..

But since the iphone doesn't allow background tasks every time you want to send a text, look something up on the web, play a game etc. etc. you have to stop the music/quit the app.

Not their fault but unfortunately still makes it useless...

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Go

spotify vs last fm

spotify lets you listen to songs you choose - last fm plays stuff thats similar to what you asked for which for me makes spotify more useful

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Flame

Get out of jail free...

I jailbroke my iPhone 3GS. They're a fantastic bit of kit, but to get to anything like the full potential out of it, you need to jailbreak it.

Anyway, I use Spot (In Cydia) for Spotify on the iPhone and I bloody love it.

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Just to clarify

There is quite a bit of misinformation here.

1) It *does* stream, plus you can mark playlists for offline play. At this point it will ensure the playlist is downloaded to the phone.

2) It is very different to Last.fm. Last.fm is a music recommendation engine (a very good one IMO) but follows a 'radio' model. You can't select which song you want to hear and you can't even seek through the current song. Consequently it is free.

3) You can't keep the downloaded songs, so the £120 you are paying gets you unlimited access to a huge amount of music, but once you stop paying you lose it. Essentially you're paying for a perfect try-before-you-buy system. As a result, I don't pay, but I do like the desktop client to evaluate potential album purchases.

4) They are adding high-def streams for paying customers, but this might take a while.

Thanks, just clearing some things up.

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It Does Stream

The iphone and android versions both stream. You can elect to store playlists for offline access for when you're out of range of 3G/Wifi.

It's pretty clearly described in the videos. £10pm to have spotify in my pocket seems good to me.

It's certainly not the same as Last.FM. That is a radio like service where they choose songs for you based on what they think you might like. Spotify is any song you like (within the catalogue) any time you like, on demand.

In a mobile, it'll feel like an mp3 player with millions of songs on the harddrive! :-)

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Understandable to announce this now.

Let the world (+ dog) know they've submitted it to Apple so the world (+ dog) knows if Apple reject it.

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price of a couple of albums

I might be the wrong demographic here but I don't buy a couple of albums a month. There just isn't that kind of new music out there that I need to have and I don't have time to listen to it what with the radio on at work and all the old music I already own and still listen to.

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Bit steep...

...it would be nice to have some sort of intermediate option available. I'd stick to the free version anyway - I don't find the ads that intrusive - but the potential iPhone app is quite tempting (as is being able to use a native, albeit text-based, linux client rather than having wine using up resources). But for now £120/year is just a bit too much - as matt suggests a £60/month version is more to my liking.

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Re: last.fm

Spotify's service isn't really comparable to last.fm's. Both have their benefits. In Last.fm's case, their offering is more like Pandora; you can stream genre-specific "radio stations", but there's no on-demand listening. Even if you subscribe (pay) to Last.fm - which gives you access to custom playlists etc - you can still only listen to these playlists on shuffle, and there are some very limiting restrictions (each playlist must contain at least 45 tracks by at least 15 different artists).

Spotify is much more about freeing the music; listen to what you want, when you want (and now - where you want!). Sure, £120pa sounds like a scary figure when you start banding it around in headlines, but for instant (legal) access to exactly what you want to hear, it's a small price to pay.

(full disclosure: I'm a subscriber @ Last.fm, AND a subscriber @ Spotify)

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Hmm

Yes, I would pay for it if it worked perfectly, and I can use it happily on my iPhone and desktop.

But I rather think it's success is balanced in Apple's hands, not Spotify's. Not just because they could decline the application on a whim, but because (I presume) Spotify will only run as an active application, not in the background of the iPhone. This puts it at a disadvantage against the iPod functionality of the iPhone.

But it's worth noting that I'm a pretty hardcore downloader, and this is the first service I'm debating actually paying for. The music industry has a way to go, but it's on the right track. Well done, pat on head, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

...one could just rip the stream/s to mp3 files for nothing using any one of a number of free stream ripping tools.

Hmm.

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Anti competition

If this is rejected I hope the EU slam the boot into apple, to me this is a million times worse then jsut bundling IE with Windows.

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Headmaster

Not everyone keeps music more than three months

I think they are onto a winner. A few people have commented about not being able to keep the music permanently but it all depends on the individual - While I guess people over 35 collect music to listen to for the rest of their lives, you'll find that the average person under 35 will pretty much just listen to contemporary music. I for example almost exclusively only listen to RnB and hiphop, and having heard a song a few times completely lose interest in it, and would never build a collection. £10 a month seems quite good, it similar to what people pay for mobile internet, or for MTV, and if they could come to an agreement with the carriers then that would actually be a model that worked. It would not appeal to everyone, but it probably would to the younger generation with constantly changing tastes in music, who at the moment are the freeloaders.

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Win Mobile

Bring it out on win mobile and i'll be all over it like flies on shit! lol love spotify and the premium service is 9.99 Euro in ireland.

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What's all this talk about MP3s?

From the Spotify FAQ: What quality does Spotify stream in?

We use the Ogg Vorbis q5 codec which streams at approximately 160kb/s

Having said that, Spotify link to 7digital who sell MP3s.

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Pfft

"is no-strings-attached MP3 format a deal-breaker for you?"

Yes.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Umm?

"don't quite understand what the deal actually is? You get to download whatever you want, in mp3 format, but it's locked away so you can't get to the files?"

We don't know the details yet - but it's an end-to-end encrypted system and it almost certainly won't allow "leakage" - conversion to mp3 format so you can play the songs outside Spotify.

And as Ian says, you may well lose it when the subscription lapses.

For these two reasons, I've talked about DRM.

If these suppositions are wrong, and you can keep the music after the subscription ends (like CWM) and sideload MP3s to another player, then it may be more attractive. Otherwise it's another Rhapsody walled garden.

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Ogg battery life

The iPhone has hardware decoding support for AAC, ALAC and MP3.

If the Spotify iPhone software uses Ogg (like their desktop software), does that mean that the battery usage will be crappy compared to playing the standard formats?

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What I've been waiting for...

I listen to everything on Spotify now - even if i have the same albums on MP3. So much quicker to use than iTunes and a much better UI as a whole. It took me a couple of months to decide to part with a tenner a month, but has definitely been worth it for no adverts and now the high bit-rate option.

The ability to listen when I'm not at a computer is all that's missing - this will fill the hole, assuming Apple let it in. I have an iPod enabled car stereo, so I'm hoping that I can load the Spotify app up on my Touch, set the playlist going and then listen on my long commute to work. I don't expect the Alpine XDA-x100 to be able to control playback, but hopefully it'll output the sound and allow me to control the volume. Pity Apple don't let a finer grain of control for applications authorised by the user to allow for background play and control via the connector, as they do with the built in music app.

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Badgers

No silver bullet

Some people are subscribers and don't mind having yet another monthly 'bill', some people want to own the music that they buy forever. The digital music world is still very young and while things like Spotify are cool, susbscription services are not necessarily the silver bullet. Most Reg readers are probably proffessionals earning half decent money, what about teens? technophobes? Do they know or even care about Spotify? Would they part with £120 a year? Also, it would be interesting to see what cut the artists get from these subscription services and whether the next generation of wannabe proffessional musicians will take the plunge or opt for the safer 9-5.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Or...

@AC

" ...one could just rip the stream/s to mp3 files for nothing using any one of a number of free stream ripping tools. "

Why would you? There are quicker, more reliable and higher quality ways to rip someone off. Man, you take the biscuit... and you take the F and the first E out of "freetard".

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Well, I just paid

I'd been thinking about signing up to Spotify Premium on Desktop for a while anyway - the ability to listen to just about anything I want, and share that same song to my girlfriend/friends, was a good enough service that they've engendered enough goodwill in me to pay that much voluntarily, and rather happily.

And since my "no idea what I like; will listen to anything once" usage model is rather different than Apple's "buy it and keep it" model, I hope they will actually let it through. Not hopeful, though... I'm sure they're much more comfortable denying Spotify instead, and then launching their own similar model in iTunes after another 6 months or so, perhaps with a small 'click-to-keep' button for outright purchase. And running in the background too.

Or... if Spotify allow users to click to load the song in iTunes instead (is that still an option?.... Maybe they'll just about let it through...

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K
Bronze badge
Megaphone

To expensive

Needs to be sub £100, even if £99.99 I'd sign up - its all about that mental £100 barrier.

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Spotify & iPhone.

Personally will not be buying a) iPhone is way too expensive b) £120pa is way too expensive. Still I hope they have success with it so that the free/advert Spotify to the desktop keeps going. If they are not successful then I worry about the free/advert Spotify service

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Headmaster

Re: To [sic] expensive

The mental £100 barrier? It's all about how you phrase it. El Reg have shamefully gone for the expensive-sounding tactic (hey, why not point out that it's £600 for five years?)

Phrase it a different way. 30p a day to listen to pretty much anything you want (save for the notable exceptions that Michael posted above). Sounds rather more palatable now, doesn't it?

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gosh

Makes the BBC licence fee very good value!

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Wouldn't denying the software constitute

abuse of their position as a monopoly that has total control over what software you "legally" put on your iPhone? They'd basically be denying a competitor equal access. Not good.

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Go

wmPhone

I love spotify, although their advertising seems to be becoming a little more pervasive in recent weeks, however without a client for Windows Mobile (and the associated subs) I can't justify coughing up.

However, they need to ensure that it supports 'streaming' or 'caching' on the move, otherwise I may as well just continue to copy my MP3's to my phone as and when I want to listen to them.

And for those complaining that you loose access to the music when you cancel your subscription - well, yeah, but then you just sign up with someone else. I don't mind paying £10 a month for someone else to rip albums, setup the album art, make sure the ID3 (or equivalent) tags are in place and then have a decent network connection to serve them up.

One final point though, they need to expand their range of "classic" artists. No Flloyd, No Oasis, No Zepp. Or rather, these artists need to see that music rental seems to be the model of the future and they should embrace these new ways of working, rather than ignoring it, then taking legal action against it, then embracing it 5 years after Napster and P2P appeared.

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@Monopoly questions.

No it certainly wouldn't.

Take this to the monopoly commission and they'll tell you to buy a different mobile. iPhone doesn't have the marjority market share, it doesn't even come in second.

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Grenade

@joe K 1

"I for example almost exclusively only listen to RnB and hiphop, and having heard a song a few times completely lose interest in it"

Yes, you probably do....

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Spotify killer?

It strikes me that all Apple would need to do to kill this would be to offer a similar streaming service on the iPhone so that you stream a whole track rather than just a 30 second sample. One reason I use Spotify is a 'try before you buy' .. finding out if I like other tracks on an album or other music by the same artist. 30 seconds isn't enough to do this.

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Go

No Oasis...

...I'm sold!

Joking aside though I think everyone saying that £10 a month is 'too expensive' is missing the point.

Music lovers used to pay around that, possibly more, every month before the stealing/digital-revolution. Aside from the quibbling about how the money is divvied-up the fact remains that money does need to go into the industry to keep it alive.

In the old economy £10 a month would buy you one album. Beyond that you were back to radio and swapping tapes with friends. Now they're offering you access to anything you want to listen to (this is still new - stop complaining that they don't have *everything* - neither does your local HMV), at high quality (with the new streams), anywhere (home=PC, out=iPhone/other mobile device).

I'm sorry - but that's bloody good.

There's the argument that if the service disappears then so does your music, but if this is the way forward, and I believe it just might be, then the only thing that'll kill one service off is a better offering from another - so that makes it a moot point.

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Not bad but balance needs tweaking

This shows that someone in the music industry is thinking but the balance is still not quite there yet.

I would pay about £10/month for a service which let me download what I like, including major artists, and keep the files (in a standards compliant format, usable on any of my devices). Alternatively, I would pay about £5/month for a service which was purely rental -- listen while I am subscribed -- as long as it also worked on all my devices and carried all the artists I am interested in.

Personally I am sure that in 5 years this discussion will be considered very quaint. Everyone will subscribe to an on-demand rental service (of which there will be a choice of several) at somewhere around £5/month (maybe for the individual, maybe for the whole family) which will work with all their devices. We won't bother with hoarding MP3's any more because we are all paying a small amount to have access to them whenever we want (and if one goes out of business people switch to another one). The only tough part of this vision is working out how the artists get paid (i.e. how the £5/month gets split between the parties involved and between the various artists).

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Go

@ Graham Cobb

Exactly what I'm talking about - a total rental model where individual 'ownership' of published music doesn't really happen any more. I'll be sad to see the end of my CD collection, and lord only knows what this will do to HiFi, but I think that's the way it's going.

As regards paying the artists, I believe the best model would be that the artists work directly with the likes of Spotify and recieve a proportionate percentage of that £5/month - based on what you've listened to that month. That would be the fairest option by far.

At this point the role of record companies will change into little more than music-orientated loan companies - sources of finance that artists use when they need to invest in advertising/touring expenses/making videos/expensive producers.

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