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04.24.17 | 1:16 pm

Spotify may be looking to get into the hardware game

Spotify may want to control its own hardware destiny, at least according to a company job posting. As spotted by Dave Zatz, Spotify is seeking a senior product manager to build "a category defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles."

From that description, it's unclear what kind of hardware Spotify is looking to build (wearable, home speaker, or something else entirely?). The company declined to comment, and has now removed the relevant job posting from its website. But given that Spotify is competing in streaming music with the companies whose platforms it relies on—namely Apple, Google, and Amazon—it's understandable that it would want some hardware to call its own.

04.20.17 | 11:31 am

Spotify’s new deal with indie labels shows it’s getting serious about the upcoming IPO

Spotify just signed a new licensing deal with Merlin, the organization that represents thousands of independent record labels. This is another important step in the company's march toward going public later this year. And like its recent deal with Universal Music Group, this one reportedly gives rights holders the option to keep new music off of Spotify's free tier temporarily. If widely utilized, the provision could have the effect of pushing more people to pony up and pay for Spotify. Or maybe they'll just pirate new tunes. Either way, this detail placates the labels and helps Spotify take another step toward the stock market. 

04.18.17 | 2:28 pm

Spotify opens up its data to hungry musicians 

If Spotify has one advantage over its music streaming competitors, it's data. With over 100 million listeners, the company has an incredible amount of insight into how people listen to music. And now they're sharing it with musicians. 

Spotify For Artists is an analytics dashboard that breaks down streaming activity like total listeners, how many are true fans, where they live, and how they break down demographically. It also shows artists and their managers which Spotify playlists are funneling new listeners into a band's fan base.  It's all incredibly valuable data for artists who may still be wondering how the streaming era–and its infamously small royalty payouts–benefits them. 

The fan analytics, which launched in closed beta in late 2015, is now available to all  artists on Spotify. Artists and their managers can apply for access here

04.10.17 | 5:41 am

 A Spotify exec was killed in Stockholm’s terror attack on Friday

Chris Bevington was the streaming company's director of global partnerships and business development. A British national, he worked in Stockholm for Spotify for over five years. Bevington was one of four killed when a truck plowed into a shopping district in Sweden's capital on Friday, reports Variety. Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify, confirmed Bevington's passing in a Facebook post this weekend.

04.06.17 | 7:45 am

Why Spotify is planning an IPO that’s not an IPO

The music streaming service is finally set to go public this September, reports the Wall Street Journal. However, instead of a traditional IPO, Spotify will go public via what's known as a "direct listing." As the WSJ explains:

"By pursuing a direct listing, the company could save on hefty underwriting fees and avoid dilution that comes with issuing new shares, according to some of the people familiar with the matter. Its early investors would be subject to less stringent lockups governing the sale of insiders' shares, those people said. What's more, the company could avoid the first-day trading pop that characterizes many IPOs shepherded by underwriters. They are good for some investors but also indicate a company left money on the table."

04.04.17 | 12:22 pm

Caving to labels, Spotify ends its music free-for-all

Looks like the music industry finally got its wish. In a renewed deal with Universal Music Group, Spotify agreed to let labels hold new releases from the service's free tier for up to two weeks, giving paid subscribers priority access to new jams. This has been a sticking point in relations between Spotify and the music industry for some time, since ad-supported streaming generates less revenue than paid subscriptions. Thus far, Spotify has declined to play the expensive "album release exclusive game" that Apple Music and Tidal have famously (and controversially) embraced. This compromise, the industry hopes, will give free listeners an extra incentive to pay up for a subscription. That is, if they don't opt to pirate the new stuff.

In exchange, Spotify scored a lower per-stream payout to UMG, which will help keep its massive costs under control ahead of its potential IPO later this year.  

[Photo: Flickr user freestocks.org]

03.15.17 | 10:01 am

Spotify and Google are teaming up to save you from distracted driving. Why didn’t Apple think of this?

Spotify's new partnership with Google's Waze app is an interesting one. Not only is it the first deep, app-level integration between a music service and another app, but it solves a common pain point for people: Listening to music and using a navigation app at the same time is often a clumsy experience. This bridges that gap by letting the apps swap basic functionality, reducing the amount of phone-fidgeting one needs to do while driving

Google deserves props here for two reasons. First, for resisting the impulse to cram its own Google Play Music service into this integration, opting instead for a more popular service. Second, for beating Apple to the punch. Tying its Maps app together with Apple Music in this fashion seems like an easy-to-execute no-brainer. But then again, Apple is seldom original. Perhaps we'll see a copycat feature in an upcoming version of iOS. 

Image: Waze blog

03.13.17 | 5:45 pm

Spotify’s aversion to exclusive content deals apparently doesn’t extend to podcasts

The streaming service just inked a deal with WNYC Studios that brings the public radio station's popular podcasts like Radio Lab and Freakanomics Radio to Spotify starting now. It also gives Spotify a two-week exclusive window on new episodes of 2 Dope Queens when the new season starts (which is next week if you use Spotify or April 4 if you don't).

03.02.17 | 4:07 pm

50 million people now pay for Spotify 

Despite the ever-growing competition, Spotify is checking off another milestone this afternoon: The music streaming service now has 50 million paying subscribers. That means that Spotify has about half of the music subscription market, which hit 100 million total subscribers earlier this year. Apple Music follows with about 20 million subscribers, while new entrants like Tidal, SoundCloud, YouTube Red, and Amazon Music Unlimited are all fighting for a subscriber count worth bragging about. Spotify, which is a freemium service, boasts 100 million listeners overall. 

02.17.17 | 7:00 am

Muzak streamer Soundtrack Your Brand cuts ties with Spotify 

The startup that streams background music into stores and restaurants said this morning that it's received $22 million in new funding and that its investors will fund an "aggressive expansion plan," reports Bloomberg. Its aim is to compile its own library of music and then deliver that to hotels and retailers.

Read the full story here.

12.14.16 | 2:56 pm

Spotify’s year-end playlists are exactly the healing music everyone needed for 2016

They say music lifts the soul, and in a year as soul-wrenching as this one often was, a lot of us needed a reason to sing again. Streaming giant Spotify did its part to help this week with its year-end feature in which rounds up the top songs of its respective users and delivers personalized playlists. 

Judging from some of the reactions on Twitter, rediscovering favorite tracks makes music fans either gleefully happy or tearfully nostalgic—both of which are good news for Spotify's brand. 

 

What's interesting about the glowing praise is how it contrasts the sometimes cynical response to Facebook's year-in-review videos, which drew complaints from users who said they had no interest in reliving the past 12 months. In addition to an exhausting presidential election that forced everyone to reexamine their view of reality, 2016 saw the unexpected death of music luminaries including David Bowie and Prince. 

12.08.16 | 5:34 pm

Spotify puts SoundCloud acquisition on hold—for now?

From the looks of it, Spotify won't be buying SoundCloud anytime soon. The acquisition, over which the music streaming companies were reportedly in serious talks, is apparently now on hold. Spotify has been sharpening its focus on filing for an IPO next year while SoundCloud tries to establish itself as a freemium subscription service

Even though lots of people think a Spotify-SoundCloud merger would make a ton of sense from a product and data standpoint, the pricey prospect (SoundCloud would likely cost around $1 billion) evidently doesn't make enough business sense to justify the distraction while Spotify gets ready to go public. But who knows? If nobody else snatches up SoundCloud (whose relatively new subscription business is growing, but still small), Spotify might be able to get a better deal on it down the line.