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.
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.
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?