Why Spotify and Apple Music are Losing Traffic to YouTube and SoundCloud

Why Spotify and Apple Music are Losing Traffic to YouTube and SoundCloud

Martin Abegglen (CC by 2.0)

Spotify and Apple are at a crippling disadvantage to YouTube to SoundCloud.  Why is that?

The other day, I was browsing the Discover section of Spotify hoping to find my next favorite band.  Usually, the recommendations here aren’t exactly fit to my taste like they are on Pandora.  But I thought I’d give it a try.

After trying a few of the recommended artists, I came across the song “I Like The Way You Die, Boy” by Shoot the Girl First.  I was instantly drawn to the heavy guitar and drums.  It’s exactly what I was looking for.

Apart from loving the song myself, I thought of 3 different people I know who’d also love it.  So I went to share it with them.

Spotify makes it easy to share songs with your friends.  With just 2 clicks, you can copy the URL to the song, and then paste it into any messaging app.

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However, there are a few problems with sharing a song from Spotify:

1. Many of my friends don’t use Spotify, so they won’t be able to listen to the song without downloading the app and creating an account or logging into an old one.

2. If they’re on a mobile device, they have to be subscribed to listen to the song.

3. If I’m sharing a song with my friends online, I don’t want them to have to make their way through any gated access channels. I just want them to be able to click the link and hear the song.

Because of this, instead of taking the 3-step process of sharing the song from Spotify, I headed over to YouTube, searched for a high quality version of the song, and shared that version with my friends.

I used to share songs with my friends from Spotify, but they’d respond with “Sorry dude, I use [insert other service here].”

It’s only a slightly longer process for me, but the openness of YouTube makes things much easier on my friends.  After all, I’m sending the song for their benefit, not my own.  I want them to have the best experience possible, and YouTube provides a much more sharable, open experience than Spotify does.

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I used to share songs with my friends from Spotify, but they’d respond with “Sorry dude, I use [insert other service here].”  If my friends send me a link from Apple Music, I look the song up on YouTube or SoundCloud (especially if I’m on a mobile device) and listen there since on Apple Music I’d only get a 30 second sample because I’m not subscribed.

As unfortunate as it is for copyright owners (since closed services generally pay greater royalties to labels, publishers, and the PROs) the closed nature of these services could potentially result in a loss of traffic for Spotify, Apple Music, and other closed platforms to the more open platforms like SoundCloud and YouTube.

These platforms can make the sharing process as easy as they want for their users, but if the process is complicated from the perspective of the recipients of those shared links, these recipients will seek out the content elsewhere, or drop off during a signup flow, and their users will be encouraged to share from other platforms for the sake of their friends.

The adoption of music streaming has been fast.  But I wonder if it would be even faster, with lower customer acquisition costs for the streaming services, if the labels and publishers would allow these platforms to be more open.

What do you think? Are closed streaming services losing traffic to more open ones like YouTube and SoundCloud?

14 Responses

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Two different authors, but also one is a study by one firm. There’s conflicting information out there; personally I think YT is crushing streaming volumes overall. That’s not to negate the paid progress by cos. like Spotify, etc.

  1. Rolli

    This post is full of bullshit. Of course YouTube and SoundCloud are more accessible because everybody can use them and the Spotify user base is only 70 millions … and where is the news? Spotify and Apple are gaining no. of paid users and YouTube and SoundCloud of none, so how are the paid services loosing?

    • Paul Resnikoff

      You should also read our article on inhaling and exhaling.

      • BozoPopper

        From a creator of music, honestly, go F yourself. Why do I read this stupid blog anyway. What is your problem? You must really have some issues to need to register such a smartass remark to a reasonable post. Congrats on the arrogance of your success.

  2. anon

    Thought this was actually a good point. It would be a smart move if the labels and Spotify could come up with a link sharing solution that offered a number of open access streams before prompting a sign up page.

  3. Anonymous

    If someone shares a song with me on YouTube, and it’s a song I end up liking, I’m probably going to add it to my Spotify playlist. If that becomes the norm, it doesn’t seem like much of a problem. That said, I do think it would be preferable for subscription services to figure out a way to share music with non-subscribers on a limited basis. Maybe allow one listen per song, per IP address. Or even better, someone could come up with some sort of standardized link containing track metadata that can be read by all streaming services. This would allow someone using Apple Music, for example, to create a link that can be shared with someone using Spotify, which will look up the song on that service and allow each user to listen on their respective service. Obviously, it won’t work for exclusives, but it would be fine for the vast majority of music out there. A link containing an ISRC number may suffice.

    • Troglite

      I token that only allows a single listen could be used to accomplish this with relative ease. Oaying subscribers could be permitted to generate a specific number of single use tokens each month. The tokens can be embedded into links that can be easily shared. Since each token only allows only one listen, the piracy risk would be minimal. The cost would also have a reliable ceiling b/c the number of tokens each user can generate would be capped. No 3rd party required.

  4. Carlos Ochoa - 226 Records Company

    This is non-sense, becasue now days it is easy to log in on Spotify just with your Facebook account. as well as other streaming services like iHeartRadio and Pandora is also easy to access to the free service. Yes of course you need to have an account in some of those. If your friend does not have an account installed of any kind so what is the purpose to send him music, obviusly your friend is not interested in music, in streaming or does not support the music industry anyways to begin with.

  5. BozoPopper

    Youtube will die. They are my number one don’t post music to website. Now, if I’m doing a video, that’s another story. YT is doing nothing but building hatred against those who posts, INCLUDING their bread and butter VLOGGERS, who they have begun to screw over via reduced and censored ad pays.

    It’s an old rule that when a company gets arrogant about its customers or suppliers, that company dies eventually. YT is a monster, I know, but they are laying the seeds of immense hatred, and people are clamoring for alternatives, and I sure hope we get there. F GOOGLE!

  6. zotje

    One of the things that I liked most of google music’s service is the fact that you can share a song with anyone for a one time play. However, this was 2 years ago, I’m not sure if this is still a feature.

  7. Kent

    Wel Spotify and SoundCloud ARboth gowingg stronge appapel music is going to day soon by Being soo appelish but SoundCloud and it’s opnes will by the biggest I have Spotify love it but. Some songs aren’t findable and have to find it on YouTube or sound cloud that’s en big drawback of Spotify