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Microsoft Should Learn From Spotify And Go Tiered

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…