Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Chill Out! Spotify on Facebook Is Cool, Not a Game Changer.

Are Facebook and Spotify linking up? Entirely possible.

But before we get too excited about the prospect, here’s what a Facebook/Spotify pact would likely look like: Instead of using Spotify’s software to play music, Facebook users could access Spotify from a Facebook Web page and listen to some music for free.

And here’s what a Facebook/Spotify pact likely wouldn’t look like: Unlimited free music for Facebook users.

In other words, if Facebook and Spotify do deepen their relationship, it will be a nice feature for Facebook and a nice promotional outlet for Spotify. And if Spotify CEO Daniel Ek (pictured at right) ever does open for business in the U.S., it’d be a good way to introduce Americans to his service.

But it will still be the same service: A limited amount of free music, and the option to upgrade to a paid subscription.

Or put it another way: Let’s say Rdio linked up with Skype to promote its streaming music service, a not-unlikely scenario. Does that sound like the kind of thing that would freak out Apple?

Right. So take a breath.

Talks of a Facebook and Spotify partnership have bubbled up since last year, and they’ve been popping up again this spring. And neither Facebook nor Spotify are trying to bat down today’s Forbes report of an imminent linkup (they’re not even trying to call it a “rumor”).

But everyone I talk to who knows Facebook, Spotify and the music business says the following things haven’t changed:

  • Facebook isn’t interested in negotiating with music labels to create its own music service, or paying a third party to provide their own. Instead, Mark Zuckerberg and company are interested in letting others set up shop on their platform, and perhaps sharing revenue–via credits, ad dollars, whatever.
  • The music labels aren’t interested in letting Spotify promote itself by giving away lots of free music–in fact, they’ve been pressuring Spotify to give away less. Spotify used to let anyone listen to as many tunes as they wanted, gratis, but then cut that back to 20 hours a month. Last month, they cut that back again, to 10 hours a month. Unless Spotify is going pay the labels more money, that’s not going to change.
  • The money Spotify does have is going into marketing, and paying the labels for the right to launch in the U.S., which it still can’t do yet because it still doesn’t have the deals it needs.

So, if Spotify wants to use Facebook as an alternative to its own desktop client, it can do that–that’s a software/product issue to hammer out. Perhaps it’s the kind of thing that Ek had on his mind when All Things D‘s eagled-eyed Drake Martinet spotted the London-based Swede in Palo Alto earlier this month. But it’s not in a position to do anything more.

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