Spotify Goes Head-to-Head with Facebook, YouTube & SnapChat: Can it Compete?
Spotify will be rolling out its first video content in the US, UK, Germany and Sweden, starting with the Android app this week and then the iOS app by the end of next week. With this ambitious offering, the $8.5 billion company will now be competing with the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Spotify’s vice president Shiva Rajaraman explained the objectives of the testing phase of short clips to a small beta group that led to the rescheduled rollout, which was initially slated for May 2015.
"We are at the end of a journey of testing. We are going out effectively as planned. Our goal was largely to get a wide breadth of content and experiment and test."
Spotify has acquired an impressive roster of media partners that includes the BBC, Comedy Central, ESPN, Vice Media, ABC, Turner’s Adult Swim, TBS, Condé Nast Entertainment, Tastemade and Fusion, among others. These content providers will be either curating video series for the platform, for example special episodes of Maker Studios' "Epic Rap Battles," or creating original music-themed video content.
During testing, Spotify concluded that offering video in neat, themed playlists like "Laughs at Lunch" or "News of the Week" would make the new breadth of content more accessible to its 75 million user base.
As WSJ reporter Mike Shields put it, "getting people to watch video on the Spotify mobile app will require some consumer training." To help with this, Spotify will be launching video content to all users - both paid and unpaid - without any advertising.
Spotify, which is not yet a profitable company, will likely turn to video ads as a source of revenue later down the road, but right now is focusing on expanding the experience for current users as well as attracting new ones.
"This [launch] is fundamentally about giving music fans what they want. We are doing fine on monetization. This is primarily a demand play," Rajaraman said.
As an avid Spotify user and premium member myself, I'm not sure yet whether this is something I'm incredibly excited to take advantage of. Spotify, like Soundcloud, are my on-the-go music apps for discovery, whether I'm walking my dog or DJing in a friend's car. I don't see myself turning to this app to watch very many videos on-the-move.
Thanks to Facebook's recent shift towards video content, I already feel invaded by distracting and mind-numbing videos. I'm happy to learn that the video content on Spotify will be presented in a playlist format - at least it won't be in my face when I came to the app to do something else. In this way, I can limit my intake, maybe only to news segments for example.
What I'd actually love to see Spotify experiment with is engaging content related to music releases. Wouldn't it be cool to check out a song or album and then watch a short video of the artist sharing what inspired it or pointing out interesting references or stories that are woven in? This is something I think I could actually get into.
What are your thoughts? If you are a Spotify user, do you see yourself tapping into this new source of video content?