Unless you’ve been living under a roc you probably heard the news that Spotify is available on this side of the pond. And from all of the noise on the interwebs it sounds like something revolutionary has just been unleashed. But why? Let’s recap what Spotify offers:

  • Spotify Free – the unsurpassed free music service. With an invite, enjoy on-demand, buffer-free access to over 15 million songs on your computer, great social features, manage your own music files through Spotify, and sync with your cellphone or iPod. Features occasional advertising.
  • Spotify Unlimited – all the special features of our free service but with uninterrupted, ad-free access to Spotify on your computer. All for only $4.99 a month.
  • Spotify Premium – the all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range Spotify experience. Premium gives you access to all the music, all the time. Listen online or offline, on your computer, your cellphone and a whole heap of other devices. Enjoy enhanced sound quality and access to exclusive content, competitions and special offers. Premium costs just $9.99 a month (that’s the equivalent of a few fancy coffees).

OK so it’s 15m songs and it’s free on a PC with ads, $5 for no ads on a PC or $10 for the ability to listen offline (for as long as you pay for the service), ad free and on your phone as well. Here it is in a more graphical form for those of you who prefer it that way:

OK and then there’s Microsoft. They’ve got their own music service you already know named Zune with access to 11m songs. It’s a single plan. For $15/month you get unlimited streaming to your PC, Windows Phone and Xbox (3 computers and 3 portable devices) but you get to keep 10 tracks each month and those are your to keep even if you stop paying for the service. There is a slight discount if you buy a year in advance which gives you two months free (so it’s $12.50/month effectively). And it comes with Smart DJ which is great if you’ve ever tried it…great music just keeps flowing.

Now I have no idea what the number of Zune Pass subscribers is but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by suggesting that Spotify has them squarely outnumbered. Sure part of it is Microsoft’s entire lack of effective marketing. I mean, when I turn on my Windows Phone it should fire up with 30 days of Zune Pass to get me good and hooked without any effort…but it doesn’t. But that’s not the real problem.

You see all those fancy-ass tiers that I have to go through with Spotify? Microsoft is king of tiered pricing (I dare you to figure out Office 365’s pricing) yet here there’s only one option for Zune Pass and it’s paid. And it’s so simple – $15 and you get unlimited and get to keep tracks, then match Spotify down the tiers otherwise ($10 for offline while you’re a member and mobile, $5 on a PC and free with ads). Yes, Zune has to have a free version with ads. But that’s nothing for Microsoft. They are in the ad business. I mean, putting Google aside there’s no one better equipped to do this than them.

Microsoft, if you’re serious about creating an ecosystem then get serious and start fighting. This should be child’s play to you considering all of those Xbox users that you’re gaining each month and that’s a gateway drug to Zune on PC’, etc.

Ahh I’m done. Frustrated just thinking about it…


  1. Well stated. Given their heavy bet on ads in the next year it is quite possible to see this happen.

  2. What about Zune Pass for Australia??
    I don’t think WP7 should go on sale in a country that doesn’t have a Zune Pass!

  3. @markiz: Actually, the carriers have been doing this since launch. I tried Zune Pass with a free month from AT&T. Ended up keeping it. :)

  4. @Mark Jonson: well yes it does come with the Phone if you know about it or sign up. But what should happen is when you turn on the phone and enter your Live ID you should authomatically get some free time and it should be super obvious what you just got and what it means to you. I know 5 people with Windows Phones – none of them signed up for Zune. Don’t make people sign up – make it happen and let them get used to the service with their shiny new phone…

  5. @Davidk: I can get on-board with that. I’m sure Microsoft worked hard to keep as many steps out of the OOBE as possible, but that would help awareness. I really wonder how many Windows Phone 7 users without a Zune Pass actually use the music-playing capabilities of the phone… =/

  6. @Mark Jonson: I’ll make a confession – I had the 3 month piece of paper with my phone and never signed up and now I’m way past that point in time. If it had just fired up I probably wouldhave taken it for a spin, done the math and thought that 10 tracks = $10 so it’s really just $5/month for streaming everything else and that’s a great deal…and as much of an MS whore as I am (yup, just signed up for a year of Xbox Gold) I haven’t had a Zune Pass but I do use Zune (PC software) and it works great.

  7. Well said. MS should seriously consider this. Free tiers are the gateway drugs to paid tiers.

  8. @Davidk: I hear you. I love the Zune software and the Zune Pass. While the Zune software works well with music purchased from other services, the software really shines with Zune Pass, as one would expect of such a service. The only problem is that it’s easy to impress someone when you can show off the Zune Pass with a PC, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone. But it doesn’t have the same value when you’re trying to convince a friend (or stranger) that they should get it when they own a PS3 or Android phone. But on the other hand, that makes an excellent segway into demonstrating the Windows Phone and trying to convince them to make the leap from iPhone or Android when they become eligible for an upgrade.

    To get back on topic, I’d say a limited free service, as is provided in Bing Music on the web would be a great starting place. For those of you who don’t know, if you don’t have a Zune Pass you can listen to a song in the Zune library full one time if you search for it through Zune. I believe after that it plays a 30-second sample. But perhaps a free tier with 10-20 hours per month would be good, to compete with Spotify and other internet radio. Maybe also a $10 tier that includes the subscription without the song credits?

  9. You are aware that Microsoft is in a heavy partnership with Spotify? And that Spotify was one of the few developers that got very early access to the Mango beta so that they could have a working app ready for demonstration on MIX11?

    Also, The Zune software is horrible compared to Spotify imo. I highly value that software is fluid, fast and doesn’t genrally lag and that’s one of the largest reasons I choose WP7 over android. Yet the Zune software is choppy, it takes 10 secounds to stream a song etc while Spotify is buttery smooth, very fast and starts streaming instantly.

  10. “Also, The Zune software is horrible compared to Spotify imo. I highly value that software is fluid, fast and doesn’t genrally lag and that’s one of the largest reasons I choose WP7 over android. Yet the Zune software is choppy, it takes 10 secounds to stream a song etc while Spotify is buttery smooth, very fast and starts streaming instantly.”

    Are you crazy? You aren’t uzing the same Zune I’ve been using. Zune and Zune Pass has always wiped the floor with iTunes as a platform. I’ve been a Zune Pass subscriber for the last 14 months. I also use iTunes. I’ve found it to be fast and smooth. It opens a lot faster than iTunes, and I’ve never taken 10 seconds to stream a song. The longest it’s ever taken me to stream a song is about 2 seconds.

Comments are closed.