Spotify and it’s affect on ownership of digital mediums.

Historically recorded music has undergone changes both stylistically and the means of broadcast in which fans have experienced. From analog era technologies like 8 tracks, vinyl, both A.M and F.M radio broadcasts, as well as cassette players, revolutions in musical providers have steadily improved the methods in which music is delivered and interpreted. Programs like iTunes and Pandora have helped plunge the musical distributors into the modern digital age we users enjoy today. Each of these programs introduced new methods of personalization and digitization of music choice. Each program differs in its delivery style, Pandora operating as an Internet music source, accessible by computer, tablet or mobile device. Pandora filters music relevant to artists that the user has chosen, and creates a station based on the chosen artist subject to change depending on user functionality. While iTunes acts as a personalized arrangement of owned music to later be distributed to a device such as a mobile or other Apple owned product. While both of these distributors represent a figure in the changing music scene, a newer more efficient program exists as a means of superiority over other sources. This website, music provider is known as Spotify. Spotify utilizes the positive aspects of personalization from iTunes and the sporadic radio streaming from Pandora. Despite the glaring similarities, Spotify differs from other music sources due to its unique distribution source and the manner in which it complies with the digitization of music according to the ownership act incorporated in the Copyright Act of 1978. Pertaining specifically to ownership the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998” defined the regulation and specific terms of ownership in the digital age of music. In a world of sampling and fragmented sounds of music past, Spotify introduces an interface that is both compliant and user friendly toward the means of customization. Spotify clarifies the blurred lines of what is musical ownership in a physical sense and in a digitalized fiasco that is the Internet. Despite this seemingly positive aspect of digital media, the sense of ownership is seemingly blurred in the translation of digital media. Is this music provider “Kosher” in regard to protecting both the user and artist in a seemingly impossible scenario?

            Sources of music and their means of accessibility have changed periodically as technology allowed it to. In early stages of musical distribution there were very limited ways of accessibility and quality was not necessarily the highest. Sources like record players were the first to distribute captured audio recording. Eventually music itself was recorded for individuals to enjoy on a personal song by song level. Record players, to the “Walkman,” to more recently Mp3 players dominated their own respective time period, and the medium in which extraction of these sources has changed as a result. The only way to receive new musical content in previous generations of musical intake was through physical copies of recorded media, and to play these sources in a device suitable to their time period. Despite physical copies of musical sources still remaining available today, through digital intervention, recorded music can be accessed more easily and cost effectively for the user depending on the program. iTunes acted as a sort of pioneer for this revolution in musical collection, making the storing of music possible with its innovative interface. iTunes acted as a pioneer of legally downloading music amongst the digital age. This impact heavy action held significance for both the record companies and the general consumer. 

Over 25 billion songs, music videos, podcasts and general music related media have been purchased through the site, magnifying the importance and impact the site had on the musical industry. It is the leading innovator of creating an organized and personalized musical data system. Yet iTunes lacks something of major importance to the average user, the ability for free access. iTunes offers interval previews of 10 to 15 second previews of songs depending on the version installed. This is a sort of ploy for the user, as they are subjected to purchase a piece of media. This differs greatly from Spotify, which operates as a free to use program of streaming music with limited commercial interruption in order to collect money for the artists listed. A premium version of this service may also be purchased and can be accessed via mobile and or tablet, without commercial intervention. As a source, Spotify masters the user interface that iTunes established, and provides a user-friendlier program for the personalized user. Participants in musical streaming enjoy varieties of music that is accessible through both programs music of all varieties are available through both programs.   

Music represents a largely interpersonal participatory activity. No one person has the same exact taste in style of music, and programs like iTunes continue to develop the use of the term “playlists” to give users a sense of personalization pertaining to musical experience. “Playlists” are programs in which users are able to group multiple songs that either is similar based on criteria of the user’s desire, or completely scattered stylistically depending on the user’s preference. Differing from iTunes entirely Spotify allows its users even in the free version to create playlists including songs not actually owned by the user accessible only through a computer. The program allows “Premium users” to access these user created playlists via mobile, and offline downloading (Spotify terms of use).


Spotify contains many featured playlists and ultimatly sets apart a term of use for the general consumer. 

Personalization plays a significant role in the functionality in which Spotify operates. Spotify advertises on its information page that it has “a catalog of over 20 million songs” and “adds 20,000 songs every day.” ( This vast array of songs music allows a user many options in which they can enjoy their musical endeavors. Spotify is accessible by devices of all phases. An individual can gain access to Spotify’s catalog by any device with Internet capabilities. Prior to iTunes changing their library’s catalog setup of 37 million songs ( economists mulled over the decision to change their initial setup of having uniform pricing of  a paid 99cent per song basis in order to ensure guaranteed royalties regardless of the contents popularity and demand. Because of this uniform pricing, iTunes garneted a resulting gain on a product they sold and greedily raised prices based on popularity of its content.  



Spotify as a comparison to other free sources. 






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