Why Spotify Premium is too expensive, and how to fix it

I recently became a Spotify Premium customer, for two main reasons:

  1. I’d spent an afternoon listening to spotify at my desk and wanted to carry on listening to the same playlists on my iPhone while I was walking somewhere.
  2. As a technology guy I was curious if it was any good

So I forked out my £9.99 to give it a go for a month. Aside from the fact I had to use their website (rather than just tap an in-app “buy now” button on the iPhone), the sign-up experience was simple and easy.

The iPhone app is really good; it suffers from the same problem that all non-Apple music apps have on the iPhone, (namely that the music terminates if you leave the app to reply to an SMS or check your email). It’s not perfect, but it’s a really solid 1.0 release. Playing music over 3G appears to Just Work.

However, I won’t be renewing my subscription for a 2nd month because it’s just too expensive.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect Spotify Premium to be expensive: it offers up a huge proportion of the world’s commercial music for your listening pleasure on a ton of desktop and mobile platforms, ad-free with features like playlist management, integrated art work, artist and album browsing and search and plenty more.

But the kiss of death is that if I pay for Spotify every month for several years and then stop, I leave with NOTHING.

That’s just not a sensible investment in anybody’s book. £9.99 can buy me 2 or 3 albums per month if I’m a real bargain-hunter. By quitting Spotify after 2 years, (£240) I’ll be down by 80 albums.


How to help consumers justify Spotify Premium

If I pay for Premium for more than a month or two, that should tell Spotify that I’m basically a music lover, and every such user should be rewarded as such.

Why not create a system that allows me to accrue album credits for every continuous month I’m a paying customer? This both encourages loyalty to the subscription system as well as reinforcing a strong sense of value for money.

As a bare minimum, I should earn the ability to keep 1 or 2 albums per month at the end of my subscription.

If Spotify really want to be disruptive then I’ll get to accrue at least 5 albums worth of credits for every month I’m a subscriber (after some initial intro period of about 3 months).

For spotify, the infrastructure costs are practically identical – users get to download a tiny percentage of the tracks that they listen to, (which is already a premium feature to enable ‘offline listening’). The biggest issue is that of licensing – would the record labels be willing to allow a purchase-model of music to be integrated into the subscription streaming-model they’re currently charging for.

For consumers, it would mean Spotify Premium was no longer a frivolous throwaway cost, and could be looked at as a long term music investment that would likely involve even bigger spending on music because of Spotify’s enormous streamable catalogue.

That would at least start to give Mr iTunes and his music monopoly something to worry about.

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12 Responses to Why Spotify Premium is too expensive, and how to fix it

  1. Ben says:

    Very true, streaming seems to me to be very like the old DRM-mp3 sales that consumers have already rejected once. Once the subscription or device is over, so is your ‘ownership’.
    You should take a look at our work atpsonar for a cambridge startup that believes in doing something innovative with music ownership

  2. Alex Brims says:

    Lee I am completely baffled that you think access to such a large amount of music could possibly be overpriced at £10/month – I personally consider it absolute bargain and would happily pay more for it. I don’t have the means to listen to it on the move either, so I still need to own music for my iPod.

    The ability to listen to 100 new albums per month far outweighs owning 2 or 3 bargain bucket ones to me.

    The fact that I’ve been able to go back through the history of music and sample the majority of artists who I’ve been curious about but never had access to a release by makes it well worth any money I’ve paid for the service so far.

  3. Tamlyn says:

    You’re thinking about this the wrong way: Spotify does away with music ownership. You’re paying for a service so when you stop paying you no longer get the service. People are happy to pay £20/month for Sky Movies and no one expects to walk away with a bunch of DVDs when they terminate their subscription.

    Your suggestion of earning album credits is interesting and would certainly make Spotify even more desirable but considering how little Spotify already pays in royalties, I doubt the labels would be willing to make any further concessions.

  4. Chappas says:

    Tamlyn, your comparison to Sky Movies is really interesting. I like that analogy, it pretty much sums up exactly what Spotify is.

    As for Lee’s points in his article, I can understand why someone who maybe doesn’t listen to much music might think that Spotify is a bad deal, paying £10 for a similar amount of music they could’ve bought, listened to and then owned forever is of course, a bad deal.

    But if you’re someone like me, who listens to a lot of new music each week & likes to search for a lot of old music they may have missed growing up, then it doesn’t make sense for me to buy all my music when I can pay £2.50 a week and get all that I need. Especially when I tend not to really like all the songs from specific artists, and generally only liking two or three tracks it makes even less sense to go out buying whole albums. Bargain bin or not 🙂

  5. Warren Edge says:


    I would suggest that you check out HP’s offering which is called MusicStation, it allows you to stream music as well as download 10 tracks a month to keep for only £7.99 I have the application installed on my Hp Pavilion and so far it seems really good. It’s power by omifone so there are quite alot of tracks available.

    The only downside is that it is not available as a mobile application so you have to make your playlists offline then transfer them to you phone with drm licencing but apart from that it’s quite good and at least you get to keep 10 tracks every month. The tracks are DRM free and in CD quality mp3 format.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Laura Mafena says:

    There is a cool new way of streaming Spotify from the desktop to the iPhone: http://www.iosappadvice.com/forum/how-to-stream-spotify-to-your-iphone-for-free/

  7. K says:

    Great idea – I have the same issue. I was paying for Pandora One and considered switching to Spotify Premium…until I saw the price. Considering Spotify basic is free, I don’t think the ten dollar increase is justified by the additional features – it’s just not enough, to me. Considering I already thought that meant you could download the music you wanted (which, apparently, you can’t?) it makes it even less appealing. I didn’t mind spending about $3 a month for Pandora for higher quality, no commercials, and unlimited play (though even I’m on the edge for that) – I wouldn’t mind playing a bit more for Spotify, but not over 3x as much.

    Perhaps if I was using it to replace my entire music collection with just Spotify, as some people are planning to do, I could justify it, but there are still so many gaps in what it currently has and what it can do that I can’t be bothered – I’ll still be shelling out money for those albums and artists that my music budget will have to double.

    Furthermore I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to Netflix (or Sky Movies? – not familiar with that) – music is so ubiquitous in my life I can’t imagine not having some download. I don’t have access to wi-fi constantly nor do I have a smartphone – in my car, on a jog, or when my internet’s plain down I rely on downloaded music. I can get discs from Netflix to play offline.

  8. martinc says:

    By the way – if Spotify costs 10 dollars, how come that translates to 10 euro? And even worse for the Brits – to 10 pounds in the UK?

  9. Juice says:

    It has been possible to create an offline playlists for ages already. Basically, when you have access to internet you can choose which songs or playlists you would like to have offline as well and once it has downloaded those songs you are ready to go. You would still need a smartphone to have any of those songs with you when away from home, but most people have at least a basic one nowadays anyway.

    I think that 9.99 is a bargain for the premium. Being able to listen this amount of songs wherever you are, is just amazing. And at the moment while I don’t need the mobile function, I’ve downgraded to the unlimited version for 4.99, which is basically the same without the mobile function and 320kbps sound quality (which isn’t available for every song anyway).

    Anyone who thinks it’s too expensive to have such a service should think again. You go to have a drink or two and you have already spent that money and you will have nothing physical to keep either.

    There’s so many worse ways to spend that money that it’s just blind to think it’s too expensive.

  10. Pingback: You Should Have Spotify Premium | Artist Management & Music Intermediaries

  11. eleanor says:

    simply become a student you get it half price then 😛

  12. Jim Shelley says:

    Spotify is certainly a good idea and, although the free service doesn’t offer very good sound quality, the premium plan gives one (supposedly) 320 kps quality mp3 sound, and it is noticeably clearer and more dynamic than the free service. I have to admit that I’ve listened to more music since trying out Spotify. Whether or not I’ll keep using it, however…I’m not sure.

    On the negative side, online stores such as iTunes and CDBaby make sure their artists are compensated fairly, while Spotify pays those same artists next to nothing. But people want their music free, or at least very cheap, and so Spotify will likely continue to flourish and will continue to make its founders wealthy at the expense of the artists they depend upon for product. But, other than the artists, who cares, right?

    What a wacky world, eh?

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