The fact in the US if you are a new user to Spotify you have to also have a Facebook account in business terms for Facebook is a great limiter of consumer choice – which to date has been Facebooks Modus Operandi. TMV asks what if I was a user who has decided to only use Google plus? Whether that may be for ethical reasons and Facebook’s very clear anti-privacy agenda or just for the fact I like Google+ or even Twitter better? If I want access to Spotify’s user-friendly music streaming service, why should I be forced to also sign up to Facebook?
In TMV’s view this is a serious step backwards for consumer choice in both the digital music streaming and social media space. TMV does understand the business opportunity for Facebook with such a move. However, we do question whether it also now signals Spotify’s intention to follow Facebook’s lead and head down the slippery slope of being anti-privacy? Exclusive tie-ups are never good for consumers and just end up restricting choice. American consumers have already witnessed this with the iPhone AT & T exclusivity tie up – which led to consumers being tied in to use the United States abysmal mobile operator AT & T if they wanted to use the iPhone.
What is not clear is if you are a MOG or Rdio user that you also need to be locked into Facebook as well…If not then there is a prime opportunity to generate a closer relationship with Google+ and its locker music service.
In the medium term this tactic of exclusivity ended up contributing to Apple losing smart-phone market share and only helped to ensure Android became the dominant mobile OS in America and globally. TMV would suggest this will most likely be the same in terms of this Spotify marriage to Facebook. If I was MOG or Rdio for that matter I would be cozying up to Google now and putting together the best social music competitor to the Facebook Spotify union.
On another front, both Facebook and Google love to talk about empowering you the user to exert control over your privacy settings, rather than what they are going with all the information they collect from you and who they are selling it to. TMV does wonder how long it will take for the majority of ‘joe public’ to understand that they have willingly surrendered our identities to faceless corporations that have no regard for individual privacy whatsoever.
Interestingly, the outgoing US privacy commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour declared it was no longer acceptable for social media companies to “throw it against the wall, see if it sticks – and if not, we can always pull it back”. Social sharing is good, especially for music, but TMV still does believe user privacy needs to be enforced more robustly than it currently is.
Digital Music News outlined an interesting overview on automatic social sharing of music “people felt naked! They limited their sharing, or worse, cringed after accidentally oversharing”. The backlash experienced by Spotify was so bad that they quickly rushed out an application upgrade that enabled users to turn off their sharing. The fact the application was launched without even giving the user the option to turnoff sharing is appalling and just goes to reinforce how little respect for user privacy these companies have.