Digital Audio Insider -- the economics of music and other digital content


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Digital Audio Insider is David Harrell's blog about the economics of music and other digital content. I write from the perspective of a musican who has self-released four albums with the indie rock band the Layaways.

My personal website has links to my LinkedIn and Google+ pages and you can send e-mail to david [at] thelayaways [dot] com.

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July 20, 2011

More On Spotify
by David Harrell
Spotify Banner
About that download application: In my quick review of Spotify, I was mildly surprised that it wasn't browser-based, like the other streaming subscription services. This Businessweek story explains why:
Spotify owes a more direct technical debt to file sharing: The very technology that makes it so fast is borrowed from techniques honed while sharing pirated files. Both Ek and, later, two of his engineers say that once you click a button, anything that happens within 200 milliseconds seems directly under your control. To beat 200 milliseconds, Spotify runs not as a Web service but as an application on your computer. (According to Ek, the local application allows the company to supply labels with more granular data than other streaming services as well.) Songs you listen to often on Spotify sit, encrypted, on your hard drive. The application looks first for these; if it doesn't find them, it pulls down 15 seconds of the song from the closest server while it looks for copies of the rest of the song on the hard drives of other users near you.
At the Wall Street Journal, Katherine Boehret had a similar take to mine -- she was impressed by the streaming performance and noticed the lack of editorial content for music discovery.

As Billboard's Glenn Peoples pointed out yesterday, the U.S. launch of Spotify generated a fair amount of buzz. Will Spotify be the service that causes U.S. music fans to finally embrace the subscription streaming model? Maybe, but I can't help wondering what the folks at Napster, Rhapsody, and MOG are thinking these days. I haven't conducted (or seen) any extensive A/B tests, but it appears that Spotify might have a slight edge over the earlier services in terms of performance. Yet aside from a possible small advantage there, it's essentially identical to the other streaming services.

Being first to market, of course, doesn't guarantee success. The iPod wasn't the first portable digital music player, but it was the breakout one. If Spotify turns out to be the breakout music subscription service, it won't be because it has an iPod-like superiority to previous services. It might owe more to timing than anything else. Perhaps Spotify, with a modest performance advantage and a solid reputation in Europe, arrived at just the right moment for the U.S. market.

related: A Very Quick Spotify Review, Spot the Spotify Payment, Our First Spotify Payouts

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    THE LAYAWAYS

    Out Now -- "Maybe Next Year" -- The New Holiday Album:

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/maybe-next-year">Joy To The World by The Layaways</a>

    "This is a sweet treat, deliciously musical without being overbaked for mass media consumption." -- Hyperbolium

    "Perfect listening to accompany whatever holiday preparations you may be making today." -- Bag of Songs


    O Christmas Tree - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    Away In A Manger - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Bandcamp. Listen to free streams at Last.fm.



    album cover art from The Space Between

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/the-space-between">Keep It To Yourself by The Layaways</a>

    "...about as melodic and hooky as indie pop can get." -- Absolute Powerpop

    "Their laid-back, '60s era sounds are absolutely delightening." -- 3hive

    "...melodic, garage-influenced shoegaze." -- RCRD LBL

    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
    January - free mp3
    Keep It To Yourself - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or CD Baby, stream it at Last.fm or Napster.



    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/weve-been-lost">Silence by The Layaways</a>

    "The Layaways make fine indie pop. Hushed vocals interweave with understated buzzing guitars. The whole LP is a revelation from the start." -- Lost Music

    "Catchy Guided by Voices-like rockers who lay it on sweetly and sincerely, just like Lionel Richie." -- WRUV Radio

    Silence - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    The Long Night - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.



    album cover art from More Than Happy

    "These are songs that you want to take home with you, curl up with, hold them close -- and pray that they are still with you when you wake up." -- The Big Takeover

    Let Me In - free mp3
    Ocean Blue - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website