5 Things That Would Make Me Ditch #Spotify For #AmazonMusicUnlimited

Spotify vs. Amazon Music Unlimited


I am a pretty serious but conflicted Spotify user. 

I use Spotify because it has the best combination of music library size and easy sharing tech. 

I use Spotify because most of the bands that I am trying to push are on Spotify, and I want to help make them money.

But, I remain conflicted about using Spotify for a number of reasons:

1. Spotify clearly is an organization of Pirates crying Pirate (as Director and Singer Rain Perry put it in our interview). They take a healthy cut of the profits, pay long-tail artists virtually nothing, and use artists nightmares about FREE as a boogeyman to use against any complaints.

2. The rights regime and the reporting of payments in unnecessarily complex when a MUCH superior alternative exists (using the Blockchain to learn more listen to my interview with Benji Rogers of Pledge Music).

3. They are virtually 100% unresponsive to user questions or concerns. They have about 100 Twitter accounts and respond to no tweets, answer no questions, and only care about major labels and major media.

4. They refuse to innovate - Despite building what could have been an incredibly incentive-based and interactive social platform, they have refused to leverage incentives or social at all (except to make sharing of music and playlists easy). They refuse to incentivize artists or move beyond the song and album model of sales.

You can read my writing on this issue:

My interview with Allen Bargfrede about streaming economics

My interview with Rain Perry about streaming economics

My interview with Benji Rogers about the Blockchain and innovation in digital rights regimes.

Enter "Amazon Music Unlimited"

Amazon Music

I am excited that a new streaming service exists. I certainly hope that it tries to innovate beyond lowering the price point for entry (so far this seems to be their major strategy) and compete in new ways against Spotify.

I don't have a ton of hope for innovation because I have been disappointed by Amazon before. To make a very long story short, they had a real opportunity to make their Kindle Direct Publishing Advertising model pretty innovative and basically settled for copying the Ad-Sense Model verbatim.

In hopes that someone is listening over there at Amazon...Here is how they could get me (someone who makes and shares multiple playlists a week) to switch:

1. Make caring about a better profit-sharing model a point of pride.

People pay more at Whole Foods and choose Starbucks at least partially because they make a series of commitments to their employees and food producers that other stores will not (or cannot) engage in.

I do not have high hopes here, Amazon's whole business model is about being cheaper than every other alternative. 

Right now, because they were preceded by music piracy (FREE), streaming services are making a killing on the backs of artists. The vast majority of artists see pennies on a million plays of a song while the streaming services make millions. 

Some will say that it is the people getting hundreds of millions of plays who drive the service, but I suspect (and there is evidence to back this up) that the long-tail wags this dog.

Artists might CHOOSE to ONLY use your service if you didn't have predatory profit-sharing and I suspect (as Apple's 99 cent song model proved) that people will pay more for whoever delivers the best overall tail length.

2. Make An Ad Sharing Platform That Brings Music Artists and Advertisers Together

What if advertisers could build ads for your platform bidding on songs from the platform to use in those same ads? 

Have you heard the exact same ten boring Spotify ads on the free service a billion times? I have. Why does Spotify refuse to innovate?

As Steve Jobs said, Think Different. As Steve Jobs should have said, Think Differently.

Why not create a new revenue stream for yourself and for music artists that choose your platform?

3. Incentivize Playlist Curation + Listening

In 2016 I have personally made over 100 Spotify Playlists. They are incredibly easy to make and very easy to share. Nobody has done a better job of building a playlist sharing engine, to date, than the folks at Spotify.

How popular are my playlists? I have no idea, Spotify refuses to share the stats. 

If I embed the playlists on my site, I know how many hits they get from my site but not how many hits they get on Spotify.

However, if you bounce on over to Reddit, we have competitions over playlists all the time, and people love the listening and the competition with each other. Why does Spotify refuse to help us and users participate and compete? 

How hard would it be to gamify playlists and playlist sharing?

And why in the world wouldn't you incentivize this kind of curation? If I get more people to listen to music on your site, why wouldn't you share the wealth with the curators?

Tidal and Apple tried to capture this by hiring the curators that were "cool" but, the best stuff always comes from competition, incentives, and people who aren't famous. It isn't a question of who has the best walled-garden curators, it should be a question of who inspires the most music lovers to participate on their streaming site.

There should also be incentives built-in for sharing curated and static content. If a listener helps promote your service, artists on your platform, or curated content on your platform, why wouldn't you value that enough to give them incentives. 

Think of this like trading derivatives, right now you are not correctly viewing, valuing, or pricing your content. Break the profit up into smaller chunks and share them more liberally, and you could be the last service standing.

4. Monitor and Help Build Social Support For the People Who Promote You

I have put #Spotify in more posts than I can count over the last few years. How many times has Spotify ever sent any love back my way? ZERO.

This is short-sighted marketing at best. A person promoting the use of your service is both a user and an evangelist for you.

If you don't want to be just another streaming service, actually give a damn about the people helping your business grow.

Do things to highlight your curator's successes. If you gamify your playlist sharing, take note of people who have popular playlists. At the very least, have someone who Retweets the people who push your service.

Social monitoring and response costs you next to nothing but earns you massive loyalty and goodwill. You can literally do it algorithmically.

I will be honest, nothing makes me grumpier than a record label who won't RT someone like me working hard to promote one of their bands or a streaming service that is so lazy and fat that they don't even try to care about the people in the trenches promoting the use of their service.

It is just shortsighted and stupid hubris IMHO. 

If I am helping your service grow, by helping me grow on social media, you help yourself too.

5. Ask Your Users For Information

There are about 10 usability problems with the Spotify interface. 

It is a very good interface in many ways, but it has problems and most everyone I know who uses it has legitimate gripes.

To date, I have never seen or heard anyone from Spotify ask me, or the people I know, any questions about usability. 

Who knows more about usability than users?

The Last Word

Why did Zappos succeed in a crowded shoe-selling market? 

They innovated around the areas the "dominant players" didn't seem to care about. They took advantage of hubris.

You have a real opportunity here to be different in a market where none of the major players seem to care much about differentiation. They certainly have not thought creatively about how to differentiate themselves in a crowded streaming marketplace.

There is good reason to think differently.

If you get the artists, the curators, and the listeners on your side, you can run competitors out of your marketplace. 

Or, you can just continue to use the same lazy and tired one-size-fits-all model that makes everyone except you angry.

I guess if I have to, I can just keep on making Spotify sausage. 

It sure would be nice if someone provided me with a truly radical alternative model.

What do you think about the current Streaming Services?

What do you think about Amazon Music Unlimited?

What problems do you have with Spotify or Tidal?

Would love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment!