Spotify announced yesterday that is has added support for Symbian smartphones. Symbian is used by Nokia, SonyEricsson and Samsung. This has been a long awaited release as Symbian is still the most widespread phone OS around, thus dramatically increasing the potential for new Spotify users. While being a nice update and all, there might be something else in the makes regarding these application platforms. While many companies port their software to multiple platforms, not many are able to take advantage of them to the extent Spotify does. Earlier this month Spotify announced that it has signed a deal with 3 UK to distribute HTC phones with Spotify premium included. This may be the route Spotify is more eagerly going to take in the near future regarding other operators in Europe as well.
The reason is very simple, they have not been able to build enough conversion from the free userbase to the premium subscription model. I’m not blaming them for not trying – a ton of other companies have tried to capitalise on music and failed. Thus, it’s worthwhile to explore other means of building up your paying customer base – including through deals such as these with operators. If we look at it, Spotify is receiving money from two markets – the media sales and subscription payments. Media sales currently aren’t doing too well even though I’ve heard a lot more advertisements being played in Spotify.
Another sign of the business side of things that will need urgent attention is the low payouts it is paying artists. We previously wrote about a Finnish band receiving 30 cents for 100 album plays. This time Lady Gaga has reported that she is receiving $167 US for a million playbacks. That’s about 0,0001 euros per playback. Not much of an option to pay the rent with this. TorrentFreak reports that it’s not Spotify who’s ripping off the artists in this new model. According to them it’s the labels that are doing it. Be it one or the other – the service will fall if it fails to keep both users and labels happy.
Nevertheless, Spotify is doing a superb job so far with the user logic and interface in their products. The video below shows how well they’ve managed to harness the Symbian platform to their look and feel.