Tim Walker: 'Like a charity mugger, Roberta from Spotify is secretly after my money'

The Couch Surfer

Share
Related Topics

I'm in love with a disembodied voice. She's called Roberta, and she's from Spotify, the popular music streaming service. I know this because she tells me her name, repeatedly. "Hi, I'm Roberta from Spotify," she says, interrupting my latest playlist to introduce herself. Hello, Roberta from Spotify, I reply; I'd be annoyed that you disturbed my first listen of the new Bat For Lashes album, if you didn't sound so darned lovely. "I hope you're enjoying Spotify as much as we do..." Roberta, I surely am.

Like a charity mugger who snares you with a smile, then proceeds to extract your credit card details and £2 a month to save tree-grubs in Venezuela, Roberta from Spotify is secretly after my money - £9.99 a month to be exact, for Spotify's premium service, which is free of advertisements and full of exclusive content. Every time I hear it, I'm tempted by her siren-call; but if premium really means ad-free, then I wouldn't get to hear any more of that voice. It's a conundrum.

I called Spotify to find out who this lusciously-larynxed lass is, and it turns out I'm not her only suitor. In fact, she's becoming an inadvertent online celebrity, a sort of Howard-from-the-Halifax for the digital generation. The Spotify bods were unaware of her cult following until they started to air ads by some bloke called "Jonathan from Spotify" instead, only to receive a flood of emails from concerned listeners asking after Roberta.

Since Spotify is based in Stockholm, it seems many male fans have come to the same conclusion: she's Swedish. Therefore she's a Swedish girl. And so on. But I'm reliably informed that Roberta Maley - yes, that's her name - is actually from the West Midlands. Hence the wacky accent. She works in the company's London office, with the title of "business development (premium services)," and a good job she's doing, too.

Apparently, some bloggers have started to ask intrusive personal questions about Roberta's favourite breakfast cereal and the like, even demanding face-to-face interviews. Let me clarify: I did not do either of these.

But if I did get the chance to interview Roberta, I'd be totally professional about the whole thing. We could meet at a place and time of her choosing. Over breakfast, maybe (I like Frosties, btw). Or dinner, if she'd prefer. And I'd pick up the tab, obviously.

Until last week, Roger Friedman was a gossip columnist for the Fox News website. Then he discovered something called internet piracy. When a rough cut of the forthcoming X-Men prequel Origins: Wolverine leaked online, Friedman - along with about a million other people - decided to sneak a look. Minutes later, he was watching it at his desk. He didn't even have to download it; the whole movie was streamed direct from some dubious website. How clever, he thought.

So gleeful was Friedman that he wrote a review of the unfinished film on his blog, Fox 411. The problem wasn't so much that he'd broken the law; at least six million people break the same one in the UK every year. It was that he'd stolen from his own employers, and then announced to the world just how easy it was: "much easier than going out in the rain!"

Wolverine, you see, is produced by Twentieth Century Fox, which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. And it just so happens that Wolverine star Hugh Jackman, who was "heartbroken" by the leak, is a close friend of the Murdochs. Friedman, the poor sap, seemed surprised when he was shown the door. Fox should, at least, thank their erstwhile employee for giving Wolverine the thumbs-up: "It exceeds expectations at every turn," Friedman wrote. "It's miles easier to understand than The Dark Knight..."

The rest of us should thank him, too. Not for his movie criticism; anyone who thought The Dark Knight was hard to understand shouldn't be allowed near long sentences, let alone a film review. But for proving that piracy is a piece of piss, even if you're a beginner.

Friedman's confession means even Murdoch can't pretend piracy is a niche activity anymore. Those at the top of the movie industry need to start competing with it, instead of thinking they can stop it. It would involve some very complicated licensing agreements, but how about an ad-supported service that streams films for free, or loses the ads for the price of a monthly subscription? Now where have I heard that idea before?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Syrian refugees flash the victory sign  

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Robert Fisk
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent