Being Modern: Spotify

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The Independent Culture

like every internet sensation, from Google to Facebook to Virtual DJ Home (download it now, you'll thank us for it later), the best thing about Spotify was that news of its arrival travelled by word of mouth. With no ads, no masterplan and no hype, it was hard not to love an application which allowed you to stream any music you wanted without costing you a bean – just as the friend who told you about the service said it would.

And while the first thing everyone tried to do was catch it out (no Beatles due to copyright, but Gene Clark's difficult-to-find No Other album, to name just one for the obscurists, was bizarrely there), the true beauty of Spotify became apparent whenever you had people over. Then, each person got their chance to DJ, and the songs they would invariably pick would be the kind everyone loves to hear but no one wants to admit to owning. Sure, the ads were annoying, but who could mind too much when Boney M (above) were queued up and waiting?

Launched in Sweden in 2008, Spotify was supported by the major record labels, which hoped that people would stream music once or twice then purchase it via the "Buy this" link the service provided. Few did. By 2010, more than 10 million people were using Spotify in Europe. You could post playlists to Facebook or make compilations for friends in other countries. It was bliss, but as is always the case with that state, it was short-lived.

First, the success of the service led to its founders making it invitation-only. Then there was one level of service for free users and another for those of "Premium" status (£9.99 a month). And now there is a limit to how much those still not paying can use Spotify at all: the ads have become more frequent, the mobile-phone service is restricted to paying customers, and so on and so forth.

"Being Modern" is from a generation used to paying for music; that is not the gripe. But it's getting harder and harder to love something whose sales technique is based on the street drug dealer (give it out free, get 'em hooked, then rinse 'em).

Now, how much is that Boney M album on Amazon?