Subscribe to Spotify?

Posted on August 6, 2016


I grew up without popular culture.

Growing up in Coldfoot I remember a cassette of Born in the USA, an Intellivision, and an extensive boot-leg VHS collection.

Instead of cultural discovery we re-played things over and over. Even when we eventually moved to a place with cable I watched The Fugitive every day after school for a year.

The majority of my early music exploration was the compact disc, most of which I still have archived in what I refer to as my "book of shame" (I'm pretty sure 311 is in there).


My music turning point was Napster. I was working in a QA lab where we were testing software on multiple computers. At one point we had Napster running on over a dozen machines and we listened to so much weird stuff. Thank the internet for network effects!

Since being in New York I've started a free trial of Spotify. The music discovery features are exciting, but like Napster I am suspicious of the economics (see Additional Notes below).

“We now have more technology than ever before to ensure that if you’re the smallest, strangest musician in the world, doing something that only 20 people in the world will dig, we can now find those 20 people." -Spotify on Discover Weekly

Deliverables & Benefits

A steady stream of new music for me that will be shared with (and judged by) the shareholders. The social elements of Spotify add a way for shareholders to recommend listening choices and keep an eye on what I'm listening to and the Discover algorithms will learn more about what I like than I do.

Costs & Payment Schedule

Spotify is $10 a month, to be paid from my personal account.

Process & Timeline

A yes vote results in the purchase of a Spotify account. A no vote results in a return to a slower method of music discovery that includes purchasing MP3s, using sites like bandcamp/soundcloud, and a slower adoption of new music.

Additional Notes

Taylor Swift Announces World Tour and Pulls Her Music From Spotify

"It was this free offering that compelled Taylor Swift to remove her catalogue from the streaming service." -TIME

"We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone." -Spotify's Official Response

"Spotify uses a complex formula to determine the royalties artists earn from streams. Unless this model changes, or labels take a smaller cut of the profits, the numbers will remain minuscule for smaller artists." -The Verge

In 2014 Spotify reported net losses of $197 million, up from a loss of about $68 million in 2013. Spotify, which is privately held, has been the subject of regular speculation about an initial public offering. -NY Times

"We believe we will generate substantial revenues as our reach expands, and that, at scale, our margins will improve," the company wrote in a management report in 2015, according to the Guardian. "We will therefore continue to invest relentlessly in our product and marketing initiatives to accelerate reach."

"If these trends continue, it will be a forever diminishing return for the music creators and copyright holders to the point where there may no longer be an economic business model that generates any real revenue for the music creators and copyright holders." -The More Money Spotify Makes, The Less Artists Get Paid

"It's scary how well @Spotify Discover Weekly playlists know me. Like former-lover-who-lived-through-a-near-death experience-with-me well."

Yes - 2591.0

aaronpk 1358.0
vpr 294.0
Marcus 260.0
wandersean 108.0
Matthew Stadler 100.0
manzalawy 100.0
Oskar 60.0
UnusualPi 57.0
Anjou Wu 46.0
awmahan 40.0
csdavis08 25.0
Kyle.kiang 22.0
supremelord 20.0
CelestiaGrace 19.0
geraldpringle 16.0
hoytster 12.0
egli 10.0
freddy 6.0
reifi 5.0
valeavy 5.0
beau 5.0
p0siden 3.0
ocp 3.0
cjb 3.0
RawrFish 2.0
E*Rock 2.0
spurgeon 2.0
jhsu 2.0
caleblack 1.0
bcave 1.0
Frederick 1.0
superamit 1.0
viciouskris 1.0
topher 1.0

No - 1182.0

GeneM 297.0
Jona Bechtolt 182.0
chrishiggins 157.0
Ryan Feigh 131.0
davehayden 124.0
abodens3 97.0
Matthew Spencer 59.0
brendanjones 50.0
dandrake 23.0
Azure Akamay 20.0
pvong 13.0
Lexx 10.0
mbrooks 5.0
Pat Castaldo 4.0
4005siw 4.0
kimsal 2.0
Lisa 2.0
Bruce Asbestos 1.0
CravenAcquisitionsLLC 1.0

Past Discussion

aaronpk (1358.0 shares, voted yes)
I'm a fan of Spotify, been a subscriber for a few years now. I have really been enjoying their "Discover Weekly" feature! Is that only available to paying customers? If so, I would definitely vote "yes"!
Mike Merrill
The Discover Weekly is available even on my free account. But the downsides are pretty massive... I can't listen to a specific song (everything plays as shuffle) and I can't listen offline. I think that will change the algorithm's effectiveness!
Curt (130.3955 shares)
I’d like to see a comparison of other services. I’ve been using Amazon Prime Music (included with Prime), and am pretty happy with the selection of artists/albums, and the “radio” stations. I haven’t really looked into Apple’s or Google’s offerings, though.
abodens3 (97.0 shares, voted no)
Instead of spending $10/month could all shareholders list the name of one artist/band (that is relatively unknown) and you listen to one suggestion per week for 6 months?
Curt (130.3955 shares)
I remember watching "The Fugitive" every day, but only for a week or so.
Mike Merrill
Curt: All the negative issues I bring up apply to all streaming services. I chose Spotify because it seems the most social and the Discover Weekly feature is well-regarded. (I know we watched it more than a week!) abodens3: I'm not opposed to that idea, but we tried something like that with NetFlix and it was difficult because I didn't watch enough. I really like the idea of exposing what I choose and what the Spotify algorithm recommends to the shareholders. (And letting the fear of shame be my guide :)
Kyle.kiang (22.0 shares, voted yes)
What do we anticipate average daily use on this being?
Mike Merrill
I just attached my Spotify account to for better tracking. I would expect no less than multiple hours a day as I listen while at work.
Mia Nolting (20.0 shares)
What if you buy an album every month of one of the artists you discover/like to help offset the money Spotify is stealing from them?
Mike Merrill
Mia: That subverts the economic argument that streaming services make, which I like! I could buy vinyl (and perhaps even allow shareholder approval of purchases?) to maximize potential resale value and raise my social standing/hipster cred.
E*Rock (2.0 shares, voted yes)
As someone who has operated a record label for over a decade: Spotify now occupies about 75% of digital profits. Spotify is like subscription radio and pays better than college radio. I recently signed up and use it for most new music, mostly albums that I'll only ever listen to once and a more or less disposable.
Mike Merrill
Your opinion should carry more weight than 2 shares. :)