Spotify is on a roll of late: last month, it revealed it had surpassed 2.5 million paying customers, and announced its new plan for apps within the Spotify desktop client. It wants to be the de facto online music platform, but Sony’s entertainment boss Tim Schaaff tells Electricpig today that the battle is far from over, going so far as to compare Spotify to failed social network Myspace.
At briefing today in London, president of Sony Entertainment Network Tim Schaaff told journalists that he doesn’t see Spotify coming to dominate subscription music services in the same way that Apple’s iTunes has for music downloads.
“It’s certainly not in the label’s interest to have one company dominate everything,” he said. That’s not likely to happen, that doesn’t happen in general.”
“Spotify has been one of the first companies to be able to really make a statement about subscription services that has made sense to consumer, but it’s early days and we used to think that Myspace was going to dominate everything in social networking and they’re gone. They’re gone.”
Schaaff didn’t highlight any particularly flaws in Spotify’s freemium business model, but pointed out that digital music is far from mature, and tastes change.
“Things change very fast in this environment and fashion changes quickly in this environment, and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. We really are at the early stages here, and the question is how will the companies hold up over the long run.” It’s not a one horse race, in other words.
Of course, you’d expect Schaaff, who oversees Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services, available on PlayStation 3, Sony tablets and other Android devices, to say that. But Schaaff’s expertise goes way back: he first made a name for himself at Apple leading the company’s QuickTime video team in the 90s, and was one of the few vice-presidents to survive the cull when Steve Jobs returned as CEO in 1997.
He’s also frank enough to admit that Sony can’t simply emulate Apple’s iPod+iTunes vertical model when it comes to hardware and software.
“If I own a Sony Playstation device but I don’t have a Sony handset, does that mean I can’t use the music service when I leave my home? The reality is I’ve got to enable a kind of connected experience that spans where customers really move in their life. it’s probably not reasonable at this point in time to target a segment of customers who are all pure Sony from start to finish.”
“This is going to be a long struggle, it’s going to be a very messy competitive landscape,” he told Electricpig. “Sony’s in this for the long run and we’ve got the kind of financial stability to survive through the ups and downs that industry is experiencing as we find the right formula for this experience.”
Above, you can see Schaaff talking about the plans for SEN at a recent conference. What do you think? Has Spotify sewn up the market or is there space for Sony, Napster, Deezer et al? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.