Spotify is a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) music streaming device, which offers instant access to over 30 million tracks with more than 100 million registered users and they just announced that 50 million are paid customers (Russell and Niemela, 2017). Spotify offers a wide range of instant played songs with a low playback latency, which is 265ms on average (Keritz, 2010). The worldwide success of Spotify has give music streaming a new step into the norm of listening to music. To understand why Spotify has gain its achievement is to know music listeners’ behaviours have changed over time. In this blog, Spotify is being examined using McLuhan’s TETRADS in order to identify its Enhancement, Retrieve, Reversal and Obsolescent.
Before the birth of Internet, music was brought to home through different technologies such as cassette tapes, records, CDs etc. However, music streaming was a disruptive technology which helps change the way music is played. One of the enhancements that Spotify brings to the users is that it helps personalise playlists without the hassle of record it on tapes, copy and paste into your iPods, or burn into your CDs. Spotify users simply move the songs around and edit the playlist however they like. Another enhancement is that every Monday there would be a personalised playlist that Spotify picked out based on the songs user has been listening to in the previous week and put the ones “they might like” all together as a new playlist. They can be from the same artist, genre or just simply songs that targeted the listener’s personal taste. It is like having a friend who knows all about your favourite song and makes you a personal mixed tape every week. Spotify retrieved the familiar feeling of being noticed and understood, of having a close “friend” who knows your songs based on what you have been listened, therefore users feel special and are willing to pay the subscription fee.
However, Spotify requires a large base of memory in order to download all the songs that you like, otherwise you will need internet in order to play them. Most users would consider not owning the songs or the playlists in their Spotify, as if it belongs to the app and not their own, even though they paid the subscription fee. In order to share or lend your music through Spotify is by telling your friend about a song so they can listen to, not by physically lending them the CDs or tapes. It lost the sense of music ownership and sometimes, Spotify users still go out and buy CDs or records because they want to keep them. An obsolescent is the ability to listen to music privately, as Spotify keeps the record of what you’ve been listened to, what you’ve searched for, sometimes even publishes on facebook as a linked account which gives user the feeling of being exposed. Whereas buying a record or CD, they can freely listen to however many times without being tracked.
Kreitz, G. (2010) Spotify – Large Scale, Low Latency, P2P Music-on-Demand Streaming, Peer-to-Peer Computing (P2P), IEEE Tenth International Conference.
Russell, J. and Niemela, F. (2017) Spotify reaches 50 million paying users, Tech Crunch, [ONLINE]
Available at: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/02/spotify-50-million/ [Last accessed 30 March 2017]