The music company Spotify announced a complete remake of its services yesterday. The changes are meant to buoy Spotify. But they are more likely to alienate current and prospective users alike.
At a major event last night, Spotify unveiled the new plan for their music maven. The changes are far from just a platform redesign or a standard rebranding. Spotify has remade itself so drastically that it’s practically unrecognizable.
What started and rose to popularity as a music streaming service has now been reborn as a podcast- and video-streaming service, with maybe a bit of music on the side. That’s right—the videos on Spotify won’t even be music videos, since the rights to those are clenched in the fists of the record labels. Exactly what the nature of the videos will be remains to be seen. But in short, Spotify is looking to play alongside the likes of YouTube to capture more users—and most of all more money.
The reconstruction is understandable. Spotify’s relevance has been slipping, slowly but steadily, in recent years. When the company came on the scene, it was revolutionary and met a need that many music lovers had been waiting to see satisfied.
Strangely enough, even with over 15 million members, the company can’t make enough money. Advertising in the audio realm just isn’t proving profitable.
Advertising via video, on the other hand, is a current Internet gold mine. With consumers consuming more video than ever before, and the trend expected to continue to climb steeply, video ads are bringing in major money for media companies.
Not surprisingly, then, Spotify’s new video features will be part of its free service, readily available to all users. But do Spotify fans want to watch? And will the shift be more confusing than compelling to potential members?
There’s a good chance the move will serve to weaken the Spotify brand instead of strengthen it. Where it once stood for something clear—music—as a multimedia platform it may get lost amid the competition. And while music wasn’t getting it done in the profit department, the videos Spotify plays will have to be pretty special in order for the video ads not to alienate customers who might just want to listen to music.
As for driving new users to the platform, Spotify will face a steep road, likely peppered with its own advertising efforts, to convey just what its service is and why someone should check it out. Putting more effort into developing a more attractive premium—that is, paid—music service might have been the better way to go.
But video was clearly looking too much like a cash cow. And there’s no going back now.