Spotify: The Cream Interview



Not to shamelessly self-promote, but if you (literally) have baby-faced children or grandchildren who you think could benefit by hearing the tale of their pre-twinkle-in-your-eye, 20th century music industry, as well as some gingerly, snappily researched crystal-gazing into what this century's music industry will look like by the time they're old enough to shame your name with neck tattoos, hone tenuous musical skills, say "Fuck this!" to the idea of higher education and join a band, I suggest reading them this week's Scene cover story before bedtime. Think of it as the Goodnight Moon of music-industry analysis ... or something.

For the story, which is about Napster's digital decimation of the recording industry, the financial faucet of corporate licensing opportunities for independent artists, new business models, digital distribution platforms, streaming services, the resurgence of vinyl and other biz-y balderdash, I did a little e-terview with a spokesperson for Spotify — the subscription-based, Swedish music-streaming platform that has seized Europe and, as of last month, invaded America. Since I didn't get a chance to use these quotes, I figured, "Hey, let's make a Cream dream out of it!"

Dream on after the jump. At the very least, just to see how much they like to name-check themselves.

Nashville Cream: Generally speaking, people in the music industry seem to see Spotify as having great potential to galvanize music listeners, but there is uncertainty over how the cloud platform will financially benefits artists, labels, publishers, etc. What would you say to them to ease their concerns?

Spotify: Spotify now generates serious revenues for rights holders; since our launch just three years ago, we have paid over $100 million to labels and publishers, who, in turn, pass this on to the artists, composers and authors they represent. Indeed, a top Swedish music executive was recently quoted as saying that Spotify is "currently the biggest single revenue source for the music industry in Scandinavia."

Spotify is now also the second single largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe (IFPI, Apr 2011). Billboard reported in April that Spotify territories saw an average digital growth rate of 43 percent last year. By contrast, neighboring countries (without Spotify) saw only 9.3 percent digital growth.

NC: Why is now the time for Spotify to hit America? What issues have so far stood in the way of it coming here?

Spotify: It took us 18 months of intensely hard work to provide a service in Europe that allowed us the impact we had.

The U.S has a population of over 300 million and is the biggest music market in the world. If you’re going to roll out a music service to a country this big, with such passionate music fans, and who rightfully demand excellence, we wanted to be sure everything was perfectly in place for launch.

NC: How do you see Spotify changing the landscape of the music industry?

Spotify: Spotify was launched out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy. Spotify now monetizes an audience the large majority of whom were downloading illegally (and therefore not making a penny for the industry) before Spotify was available.

NC: How do you see Spotify changing the listening experience for music fans?

SP: Spotify gives users access to one of the world’s biggest music libraries — of over 15 million tracks — all available instantly, without buffering, in a clean, simple, easy-to-use service. But one of the key reasons why Spotify has grown so fast and become so popular is that it is social. Music is the most social thing there is, and Spotify makes sharing music easier than ever before.

Even if you aren’t a total music freak, chances are you have a friend who is and whose taste you admire. With one click on Spotify, you can see your friend’s music library and subscribe to their playlists — think of it as if you’re having one big party with your friends and looking through each others’ record collections. You can also drag and drop music to your Spotify friends, or share via Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS.

NC: What most distinguishes Spotify from competitors like Rhapsody and iTunes?

SP: Spotify offers everything you need inside one music player: discovery, sharing, free streaming, compatibility with a wide range of devices (now including iPods, iPhones and Android phones) and at a price our users can afford — no other music service does this.

We welcome any service that offers people the chance to listen to music in a legal environment and which provides them with an experience that is of a higher quality, simpler and altogether better than piracy. We feel it's not our place to compare ourselves with other services. That's purely for music fans to decide! We just want to focus on offering our users the best, highest quality service we can.

So, in conclusion: Shit's gold like ABBA.

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