Last week Spotify announced plans to cut its free music allowance, limiting users to ten hours of streaming and a maximum of five plays per song. Inevitable internet caterwauling ensued, with commenters grumbling about the changes forcing users to pay for its subscription service.
How did we get to a point where paying £10 for music was seen as a rip-off? Back in the olden days, you'd take yourself to a ‘record store’, and pay money for music. Then the internet happened and everyone realised what complete and utter chumps they’d been, paying for music, like it was some sort of man-produced entity and not a god-given right. Pah! Whatever next? Paying for water? Electricity? A roof over your head?
We tried justifying it every way we could. "Downloading music means I’m more likely to pay to see that band play a gig!" "It’s a victimless crime!" "I’m too embarrassed to buy Sleeper’s Greatest Hits in person!" (ahem).
But then along came Spotify, all cool and green and "hey it’s fully legal round here, got an invite?" Oh how we rejoiced. All the music your heart could desire and none of the guilt. God it was good.
The guilt crept back. How many of us have neglected to buy an album in lieu of "Nah, just see if it’s on Spotify"? How many, bamboozled by the sheer, overwhelming volume of choice, have lackadaisically half-listened to reams of music without giving it the proper consideration its owed?
Restrictions on listens will restimulate the crazy notion of paying for music - and perhaps make us consider its value. Free plays will still allow Spotify to be utilised as a means of discovering new music, but prompt users to purchase their finds after hitting the five plays cap.
Plus, when Spotify thrives, it's good for the wider music industry: Billboard magazine reported an average digital revenue growth of 43% in countries licensed for Spotify – a growth that will likely be boosted by these changes.
Spotify has received the heft of its criticism for apparently being railroaded into the switch by the naughty record labels in order to break into America. Yes, it seems record labels are corporate, money-gobbling machines, not just in it for the good times - is this news?
If you choose to subscribe (over a million users across Europe already have) it’s hardly a note-worthy investment. A meagre £5 per month allows you to stream, ad free, all the music your beautiful ears can handle. £10 gets you this, your playlists available offline and Spotify on (selected) mobiles.
£10 for Spotify on your mobile! £10 for an unfathomable amount of music, right there, in your blinking, bastard pocket! Seriously, who the hell is complaining about this?
The Spotify gravy train has ended and moaning about having to pay for the service is as silly as storming into your local Tesco, nibbling the tasters, then kicking off that you can’t help yourself to the deli counter (which is very silly indeed).
It's time for supposed music lovers to grow up, and realise that sometimes the best things in life aren't free. Some things are worth paying for.