June 20, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Remember when Spotify was the most anticipated app this side of Netflix? Android users in the U.S. couldn’t wait until Spotify came to their shores and delivered free streaming, cached playlists, and what Europeans had come to know as the best music streaming service around. Spotify was supposed to be a gift from the Gods of Music.
That was in 2009. In 2011, Spotify may finally arrive in the U.S. as a so-what company rather than a savior.
The rumor mill once again says Spotify will debut in the U.S. once it finalizes a licensing deal with Warner Music. Reaching agreements with major record labels is what has prevented Spotify from launching stateside earlier, but the music industry may finally be ready to sign the necessary permits.
Will anyone care? The Spotify of 2011 is not as groundbreaking or exciting as its 2008 version. The original sales pitch was that users could listen to millions of songs provided if they could endure short commercial breaks. Then it was discovered that only paid members could listen to the Spotify Android app. Non-premium users can currently listen to only 10 hours of streaming each month, and are limited to hearing a song only 5 times before it must be purchased.
Spotify just isn’t as sexy as it once was. Waiting several years to launch in the United States opened a window for a bevy of competitors – Rhapsody, mSpot, Google Music, Amazon Cloud, and all the others – to make Americans lose their patience. Most people who lusted after Spotify have moved on to these other services, so what will Spotify offer to make anyone care that yet another streaming option has arrived?
GigaOM reports that Spotify is rumored to be integrated into Facebook, adding song recommendations from friends, top songs and albums among your social circle, and a way to monitor what others are listening to at the moment. That all sounds good, but is it good enough to ditch a contract with Rhapsody or not use Amazon and Google Music? I wouldn’t be so sure of that.
The only hope for Spotify in the U.S. is that it will be so much better than its competitors that people will have to use it. Unless some major changes are unveiled when the deal is official, I find that hard to believe.