Is Spotify’s new partnership with Facebook missing the point?

Spotify believe that “music is one of the most social things there is”, and at F8 last week with the unveiling of their latest partnership with Facebook, and the announcement that all new Spotify users will only be able to sign-up and sign-in by using a Facebook account, they’d now like you to believe that Spotify is the most social ‘music thing’ there is.

But we’re not sure we agree. Surely with this announcement Spotify and to a lesser extent Facebook, are missing a crucial point of being ‘social’?

Facebook’s new and improved ‘friendship’ with Spotify unsurprisingly took the main headlines last week, however the F8 announcements also included other music services that will be further integrated into Facebook, Soundcloud for example, so in that sense, to their credit, Facebook recognize that not all online music sharing and discovery comes through Spotify. But with Spotify throwing all their musical eggs into Facebook’s basket-jukebox, they are essentially saying that all online social activity comes through Facebook.

Of course with now over 800 million Facebook users, Spotify have more than enough reason to back up this idea, but they are in effect going against the idea of being a true ‘social’ service.

Being social means listening to your audience and giving them what they want, not what you think they need. It’s understanding that they don’t all fit into nice, neat little groups, it’s about going to where they are, enabling them to get the most out of your service, it’s about tailoring your service to them. It’s not about forcing them to be a part of a particular community. It’s not about forcing them to only share with the groups of people that your service decides they should share with.

Spotify can sit back and congratulate themselves about just how social they make the music experience, but what if I don’t want to share music with my Facebook friends? What if they have crap music taste? What if I prefer to do my music sharing on one of the web’s many thousands of music communities? Spotify forcing me into one place suddenly doesn’t appear all that ‘social’.

Social media is about choice. It’s about the choice of the individual to socialize and connect wherever they want, with whatever they want, on their own terms.

You only need to take a quick look at the blog and Twitter reaction to the Spotify announcement to get an idea of the negative sentiment surrounding the move. As Spotify have done before with retracting their decision to include listening restraints on all new users (this has now been pushed back to a 6-month cut-off for unlimited ad-sponsored listening) they should probably listen to their users and rethink how they can move forward as a true social service.


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