Spotify finally enters Ph

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Paul John Caña

Paul John Caña

It’s been called a revolution in music distribution and appreciation. Considering how it provides a simple and elegant platform to bring artists and listeners together, that’s probably not an exaggeration.

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Spotify is, in a nutshell, a digital music service that streams songs direct to your mobile device or PC. Think of the millions of songs floating around on the internet. Instead of downloading these songs, often illegally, the service allows users to search for the song and artist they like and play them whenever they want. Founded in Sweden in 2008, Spotify has grown remarkably over the last few years, now counting over six million paying subscribers in 56 markets, 24 million active users and over 30 million songs in its global catalogue.

The Philippines is the fifth market in Asia to get Spotify, after Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. During the launch held at 71 Gramercy in Makati City on Tuesday night, Singapore-based Asia Director Sunita Kaur revealed some alarming numbers about the local recording industry that illustrated how a service like Spotify has been long overdue.

She said that over P3 billion in revenue has been lost due to piracy—that 83 percent of records sold in the Philippines today are pirated, and that 95 percent of music downloaded in the country is illegal.

“Spotify wants to help solve this problem, and, at the same time, give listeners in the Philippines a chance to enjoy music without the guilt.”

How exactly does Spotify work?

Mobile users can download the app via Android or iOS. (A desktop version is also available). After signing up and creating a user profile, you’re ready to go. Feel like listening to a specific artist? Just search for the name of singer or band and all the tracks are displayed, ready to be streamed. Too lazy to think of an artist? The Browse tab has a selection of pre-loaded playlists divided into either musical genre or mood (such as Travel, Rock, Pop, Romance, Party, etc.).

Discover is a nifty tab that makes recommendations based on your previously played songs, allowing you to listen to new artists closely related to the music you already like. There is a Radio tab that streams music nonstop based on specific genres. Spotify is also a social network; users can create their own profiles, add and follow people and interact with like-minded music lovers. In iOS at least, a useful feature is that the music keeps on playing even after exiting the app (not so for other music-playing apps like YouTube). If you need to pause, it’s possible to control the player by scrolling up from the bottom of the home screen.

Listeners can choose to enjoy Spotify for free, although they must contend with ads and limited service. For an additional P129 per month, the Premium service allows users to download tracks and listen to them even when offline. The company partnered with local telco Globe to offer the service with their data plans. (Rival telecom Smart has their own music streaming service, Spinnr, which offers a similar platform).

For years, music industry professionals have sought a way to stem the rapid decline of music sales and loss of revenue due to piracy and illegal downloads. It remains to be seen if Spotify is the answer to this conundrum, but for sure, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

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Email pjcana@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter and Instagram @pauljohncana

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