If initial reports are true, Spotify will reveal a major overhaul this afternoon, involving a new a new suite of apps that will plug into your playlists. It means users could potentially read up on the latest reviews of an LP while listening to it for the first time, or get gig tickets directly from a band’s page on Spotify. It’s certainly an interesting proposition. But from a music fan’s point of view, something I could really do without.
Personally, I’m wary of one-stop shops. Sites and services that offer me everything and don’t let me go out and explore in the way I want to make me nervous. I fear for organic growth of ideas, as we’re all spoon fed information in one place, rather than striking out in search of stuff either by ourselves or on other tech services. And with this imminent update, I worry this one-stop approach is where Spotify is going.
Reading reviews of an album while you’re listening to it is all well and good. But frankly, it all depends on who’s serving up the review. I have a preference for reading the muso-heavy, overly analytical take of Pitchfork when it comes to assessing albums. And I can happily navigate my browser to it without a button in Spotify taking me there. Reading music reviews is a personal preference that comes with a lot of baggage and Spotify will either have to deliver stunning copy or hook up with hundreds of sites, mags and blogs to convince me this can work. Call me idiotic, but I’d rather Spotify focused on serving up more and better music, with an improved recommendation engine, than giving me reviews.
Likewise, Songkick handles my gig needs perfectly, scanning my iPhone’s library and telling me where and when I can see bands I like. I know that some fans would like this type of service within Spotify, but I hope it’s not just a Spotify-lite version of Songkick, serving up gig info for only the biggest, most boring artists out there. This needs to be hugely comprehensive, and I can’t help but feeling that Spotify is over stretching itself at a time when it needs to focus on getting labels looking to leave back on board, as well as ensuring artists are properly paid when their music is streamed.
But aside from these minor concerns, my major worry is with Spotify becoming an app-cluttered mess. Facebook already suffers from this nightmare unless you take time to manage your friends properly, and I fear that any move into the app space could also see apps dominating the desktop app. Just imagine having to push apps out of the way as well as handling the increasingly invasive ads you get on the free Spotify service.
My feeling is that Spotify needs to keep its eyes trained on music and its music offerings. That means better artists relationships, as I mentioned earlier, but also serving up new release information related to my playlists, not the same old weary nonsense about the latest Now That’s What I Call Music and Rihanna albums. Its iOS app is also in desperate need of fixing, with beefed up search and less deleting of offline playlists.
Apps are all well and good. But this feels like yet another attempt by another tech giant to jump on the app bandwagon. Spotify, and others, need to realise there’s more to life than clever, extraneous add-ons.