From FYSE 1396: Digital Media Literacy
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Spotify is a software that allows users to stream music from a vast collection of labels. The free version of Spotify consists of unlimited computer access to any music on the service (with the interruption of ads), the Unlimited version takes away the ads, and the Premium version then allows users to access music from any device, whether it be mobile or a desktop.[1] Users are able to take songs from Spotify's archives and drag them into playlists. These playlists are then able to be shared with followers, adding a social aspect to the medium as users are able to discuss and share their favorite music.


Swedish developers first created Spotify in 2006 and launched it two years later. When the service first launched, developers created a controlled growth to slowly expand the software. Until 2013, Spotify was an "invite-only" application where people had to receive an invitation from someone who had an account. Now, the service is available to anyone who can get to the Spotify site.[2]

Form and Usability

The main purpose of the creation of Spotify was to create a digital, social platform for music listeners. The service allows users to "sign-in" through Facebook or by creating a personal username, follow their friends, share what they are listening to through "Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, your blog and via email", see what others listen to, share playlists, discover new music based on taste, etc.[3]

Spotify increases the levels of interactivity and synchronicity when compared to other and previous means of listening to music. People can send messages, subscribe to playlists and share what they are listening to instantaneously. All of this interactivity brings a greater sense of music based community and identity. Each user has a profile, complete with picture, biography and favorite tracks, and each user has his own lists of people they follow and who follow them. The sharing of music among these "friends" creates a music community online that didn't exist before. Friends can create playlists and send them directly to each other, where they can immediately be listened to without any downloads. Users also have the option to make what they listen to available to be seen by friends and, in turn, see music listened to by others. This system gives its users more immediate, refreshed information and allow them to discover what others like while on their own computers. In a sense, you can "peek in" on what someone is listening to simply by clicking on what Spotify tells you that person is playing at the moment.

Spotify has various functions that allow users to discover new music. The "Discover" page on the program has a scrollable list of tiles for songs or artists that the user might like. On the "Radio" tab, users can pick a genre, song or artist for which the program finds related songs and plays it for the user. The user can then like or dislike the song, further indicating musical taste so that the program can suggest other music. In addition, there are hundreds of application options with various themes that allow users to find music. There are apps that generate "Top 25 lists", apps that show lyrics to songs, and apps that create playlists based on mood. In these ways, Spotify is a great place to find new artists and songs. It has essentially changed the way people discover new music.

While Spotify is a great place to find new music, it takes away the sense of ownership that users have when they download or buy a song. Instead of owning a disk or having a library of downloaded music, users stream what they listen to through Spotify. Because of the streaming nature of the service, no actual music files are downloaded or stored, but Spotify allows users to "favorite" songs that they can then access later. Thus, the ability to replicate songs is infinite but bound to the application and streaming of Spotify, whereas other means of viewership allow for ownership of music files to be managed on different devices. Favoriting and streaming maintain the personalization of music libraries (i.e. each user has his own library and playlists) but do not provide actual ownership of that music. In this way, the storage of music becomes less permanent when compared to a CD or an iPod and more dependent on a connection to the service.

Much of the criticism about Spotify focuses on this free or very cheap access to unlimited music, which results in artists being paid very little. Important producers like Nigel Godrich [4] and artists like Thom Yorke [5] have pulled music from Spotify on the grounds that only shareholders profit from the service while new artists barely make money. Spotify, in response, claims that they are investing more money in new artists and that they strive to help artists expand their fanbase.[6]


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