First, let me say that I love Spotify for the most part. It’s a wonderful way to find new music, and having the huge library has been great for a music junkie like myself. And I’m a Facebook user as well so I don’t (for the most part) mind the integration Spotify has done with Facebook. But what I see is a problem and a bad paradigm for internet companies that’s starting to take shape.
The Key Difference Between Spotify & Facebook’s Social Features
Facebook is free.
I pay for a Premium Spotify account.
I feel awkward at best that the Spotify app in Facebook is requiring me to share what I’m listening to in the program.
On Facebook, I don’t share what I don’t want to share, but accept that there will be occasional things I have to go “fix” or delete due to some hole I didn’t realize I was falling into when I signed up for a service that shamelessly admits that people are its real product. Thats the side effect of using a free service that makes its money by selling us to advertisers.
On Spotify, I’ve chosen to pay for the service. The mobile app makes it worth my time and money…not the social features. If you’re making too little profit, charge more. If I feel its worth it, I’ll subscribe. If not, I’ll leave. Its not personal…just business.
And that should be ok.
What I’m not doing, is paying you to share my information. I’ll do that myself when I want. I will control what I share. Simple. If you prevent that, I will leave. Simple.
And for the users with the free service? Well…they’re getting something for free. I think tradeoffs are to be expected.
An Unfortunate Trend
Facebook has made a fortune selling us. And for the most part, we’re complicit. Maybe a lot of users are naive about privacy, but I think most of us are just looking at information differently these days. I bet if people were as up in arms about internet privacy as we like to claim (while turning blue and blowing smoke out of our ears), we’d all burn Mark Zuckerburg at the stake. Instead, I dutifully log onto Facebook daily…voting with every click.
Maybe I’m a sucker. More likely, I’m just realistic about the tradeoffs involved.
The trend in question is that companies, in their efforts to be relevant and massively rich on the internet, are viewing us through this same lens. We are apparently the commodity now. And yet some offer services that are wonderful without social aspects. Integrating those sorts of things can be very fun when desired, but are secondary (or even more removed) from the point of the whole experience.
I don’t buy a TV for the discussions about it I might get into when company comes over. I could care less what my friends think about it. Does it look good when I play my shows?
You want word-of-mouth advertising for your product? Make sure I like it and I’m happy to oblige. Forcing people to share for you just robs the user of any authenticity they might have had. Suddenly, a freely offered bit of praise becomes one more nagging ad in all the other noise out there.
So Spotify, make sure you think carefully about what your company is recognized for selling. For now, my shameless evangelizing of your product to friends, colleagues and the 300+ students I interact with every semester has to stop. I’m just not sure what I’m telling people about anymore. Is this a music service, or Facebook’s new social music experiment? Until I know, my voice will be much more subdued.
Good luck Spotify. Hopefully this doesn’t fall on deaf ears.