The average American listens to about 17 hours of radio each week. Half of that is in the car. Pandora recognized this early on and began partnering with consumer electronics companies to bring its music streaming services to as many devices as possible. And in just the last year, Pandora has announced in-car integration with some major OEMs. Ford was the first up with its AppLink system for Sync, followed by BMW, and now Toyota's Entune and GM's MyLink will be on board when both systems launch this fall.
So what does this have to do with Spotify? It's the next major evolution in music consumption. And it's got the potential to completely change how you jam out in your car.
Granted, Spotify isn't the first subscription-based music service to launch in the U.S. Rdio, MOG, Napster and (if you really want to include it) Zune Pass have all offered similar all-you-can-eat music services in the States. Spotify is largely the same. You sign up for free and and can listen to music for a set number of hours. If the ads start harshing your groove, you can upgrade to the $5 a month program which removes the ads and ups your hours. But the real revolution comes in the form of the Premium service ($10 a month) that allows you to not only stream unlimited music, but sync your favorite tracks to your smartphone or MP3 player for offline listening.
While this isn't anything revolutionary by itself, it's the scale that sets Spotify apart.
While this isn't anything revolutionary by itself - MOG and Rdio have been doing it for years - it's the scale that sets Spotify apart. Pandora only allows you to pick an artist and listen to a customized station, whereas Spotify, Rdio and MOG lets you download full albums to your device. Pandora has less than a million songs to stream, while Rdio and MOG are both in the middles of millions. Spotify: Over 13 million tracks and counting.
Because of its massive catalog (painstakingly negotiated with the music industry) and popularity abroad (10 million users in Europe, before its U.S. launch), automakers have to take note. Streaming and syncing are the future of music consumption, and while some will still prefer to purchase their music outright (and possibly use cloud storage systems from Apple, Amazon and Google) the unfettered access and instant gratification offered by a service like Spotify will be hard to pass up. Ten bucks a month is a steal to get nearly any track, anytime, anywhere.
Similar services like MOG, which is being incorporated into Mini models and likely to come to BMW and other OEMs later this year, are a good start, but they just can't compete with the amount of media attention and scale Spotify brings to the table. By next year, every major automaker will have some streaming music system incorporated into it's infotainment offerings, and while Spotify might not be the frontrunner yet, if its adoption is as widespread as predicted, OEMs won't have a choice.