The Washington Post

Spotify has arrived! Is it worthy of all the hype?


A drummer in a Spotify heralds the streaming music service’s U.S. entry. (Image from YouTube)

The service launched after signing deals with America’s top four music labels, including holdout Warner Group. Spotify is currently by invitation only, unless you buy a paid plan. The free service will open entirely in the coming weeks. At BlogPost, we’re waiting with bated breath, especially after reading one glowing review after another.

“Those who have tried Spotify know it’s like a magical version of iTunes in which you’ve already bought every song in the world,” Wired has exclaimed. Is it worthy of all the hype?

While music lovers wait for the free service, BlogPost got the lowdown from Merlin, a U.K.-based nonprofit music organization that represents more than 10 percent of all artists’ tracks streamed on Spotify.

In a Q&A, Merlin CEO Charles Caldas talks about whether Spotify is worthy of the hype, why independent music does so well online, and how to get that elusive invitation.

Merlin represents independent artists that include Arcade Fire, Adele, The National, Spoon, The Strokes, Social Distortion, and Vampire Weekend.

Is Spotify really worthy of all the hype?

I think so. Spotify is the world’s largest music subscription site. It has a great Web site, they understand how to be interactive — such as the way people can easily share playlists on Spotify, and they understand the digital economy.

Many businesses like Spotify have come and gone because they failed to understand that you can’t just have the major labels. Listeners have tastes that are much deeper and broader.

What do you mean by deeper and broader?

People want to listen to independent music, too. Independents this year topped the charts. Look at Arcade Fire, Spoon, the National. And there’s a 50 percent uptick on the number of people who are interested in independent music when they access the music digitally.

Why do you think more people listen to independent music online?

I think it’s about a lack of controlled physical storefronts. It used to be that you walk into a music store, the first 10 feet of the store is what a consumer was hit with. Online, a person doesn’t have to go through Christina Aguilera to get to Metallica.

Why do you think has Spotify been able to launch a better streaming service than most other businesses?

I think it’s because Spotify is much more free and democratic than other services. People want easy, ubiquitous access to music more than they want to download music track by track. In the past, you went to the music store you felt most comfortable, and that took time to develop. Spotify has developed that.

 So how can people get the invite early?

If the early invite system functions the way it did on Europe, your best chance is registering on the Web site, getting on social networks, or trying to find someone who has one.

California-based social media ranking service Klout offered free invitations today until their Web site nearly crashed. Klout will offer more invitations tomorrow.

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