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Spotify Vs iTunes: Ownership Model or Social Model?

Although iTunes has been the only real platform for purchasing music online since we saw the death of the CD and traditional music store, there has been little interaction with the rest of the world of social media marketing and iTunes.iTunes has a fanpage, and it does have over 16 million likes, and that is a lot in itself, but the interactivity and action on the page is nothing like we have seen with other brands on the internet.

It is a pretty bland page especially when you compare it with other large companies like Coca Cola and the likes. Spotify, a new online music store, is making real waves as it spreads around the world. It will be a big challenge to iTunes, and a challenge to the way we have thought about buying music in the past.

Ownership Model :

There have been wars in the world of music and movies for years. There was the Betamax and VHS war. There was the CD, and then the DVD war. Now there is BlueRay and more.

These battles are actually quite small when we consider what is on the table now.  With the introduction of Spotify, we have seen a challenge to the traditional way we owned music. With iTunes we buy our music. Apple’s iCloud will add to the power of iTunes. With Spotify, we subscribe to ownership. In other words, we pay a certain monthly fee to listen to a certain amount of music.

Subscription Makes Sense for Users :

From the point of view of a consumer, and particularly one who is buying music online, paying for access makes a lot of sense. If I am buying a collector’s item DVD, vinyl LP or CD, naturally I want to own it. I want it in my own home, and it is exclusively mine. When I purchase digital music, I am only going to listen to it, and perhaps watch the music video to match it. I don’t feel the need to own it like I do that old-school LP.

Spotify allows me more choice of music each month for a small amount of money. The cost is around 5 dollars and I can choose hours of music. I don’t need to own a single song, and I would have to outlay a lot more money to own a single album. To have access to the same amount of songs at 5 dollars a month, I would have to be buying albums for several lifetimes every few months on iTunes.

Subscription and the Music Industry.

Rumour has it Lady Gaga was paid around $167 for the 5 months her song was played around 5 million times on Spotify. The actual deals done between the labels and Spotify are very secret. Revenues are generated from advertising, and subscription deals. Users can listen for free as long as they are prepared to put up with low quality music and a whole lot of advertising. When advertising obviously plays so much importance, it makes sense for Spotify to be social.

Spotify is doing more than just have a page and push itself through Facebook marketing, it has a Facebook application which allows us to share what we are listening to live. It is interesting to note the maker of the infamous Napster online application, Sean Parker, is a big player within Spotify.

The Spotify model is a ‘live’ model. We need to be online to have access to our music. This will be the same for iTunes once we have an iCloud account. The biggest difference apart from the subscriber model Vs the purchaser model, is that Spotify is very social friendly. Being social friendly is a big part of the Spotify web design.

This will influence listening and subscription. iTunes has never been very social friendly, and this is something that no one is really talking about. In a world of online marketing and social media (not to mention SEO), it is a wonder why iTunes has not taken part in this or other activities.

About the author


I am Vishal Gaikar, Engineer, Web Addicted, Living in Maharastra, India. Email Me @

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