So Spotify has finally arrived in South Africa.
After years of speculation, the world’s most popular streaming music service became available locally, the afternoon before the day of its official launch. The media and potential consumers went beserk yesterday welcoming Spotify to our shores, and with good reason.
Because really, Spotify offers one of the best and most integrated music streaming experiences around, a fact a lot of South Africans will be aware of because anyone who wanted a Spotify account locally probably had one well before yesterday. While the service bars consumers from paying for an account with a debit card from a country the service hasn’t officially launched in, there are a dozen workarounds that can be used to bypass this.
There’s no need for that sort of jiggary-pokery now, and those who use the service will be delighted to hear it just got cheaper. Instead of paying $9.99 (roughly R118) a month for the Premium Service, South Africans will pay R59.99, which is almost half the price. (Spare a thought for our UK cousins who still have to pay £9.99 for this – ha ha!).
Of course, if you don’t fancy cracking open your wallet at all you can enjoy Spotify’s free service. You’ll have to listen to adverts from local and international partners every now and then, but you still gain access to playlists, the ability to create their own and share them with their friends and, oh yes, access to the service’s entire music catalogue.
Premium, however, is really worth it for the price you pay. On top of what’s offered in the free service you have the ability to add multiple devices to your account (tablets, smartphones, console and the like) and download playlists to them. That way if you create a gym playlist you won’t eat through your data when you’re sweating on the treadmill.
Speaking of data, Spotify is apparently in talks with local Telcos to see what it can do about lowering data costs to its service. On top of that, Spotify has also added a boatload of local artists to its service, which will probably do more to promote local content than Hlaudi Mostoeneng’s 90 per cent policy ever did. Beyond gifting them an audience of 169 million, Spotify also provides data to both artists and record labels about the popularity of their music and the breakdown of their audiences. How many artists know, for example, that the vast majority of their audience members are women? Spotify can help them out with that.
There are a couple of slices missing from the pie that Spotify offers overseas markets. First off, the Family Account isn’t available and details are sketchy as to when, or even if, Spotify will rectify this. To South Africans who share accounts between tons of friends and relatives this is a little irking. Second, the service’s Discover Weekly function isn’t available, but Spotify says it’s working to bring this feature to local users as soon as possible.
That having been said, Spotify makes a strong case for South Africans’ attentions, in spite being the last major player to enter the market. Beyond the billions of playlists, real-time listening habits and social media integration its desktop app gives users access to, Spotify’s algorithm for finding music to suit each user’s tastes is arguably the best out there.
Naturally it lines up better matches the more you use it, but right out of the gate, Spotify seems to have identified the ingredients to make spot-on recommendations after a short period of interaction (It’s actually scary how good it is – Ed), which give it the edge on services like Deezer, Apple Music and Google.
Welcome to SA, Spotify. What took you so long? (Oh right, licensing rights…)