Business Matters: How Soundrop Is Helping Build the Spotify Economy
Business Matters: How Soundrop Is Helping Build the Spotify Economy

Soundrop Benefits From The Spotify Economy
-- In a sign that at least one investor thinks Spotify is a valuable platform with longevity, Soundrop raised $3 million in funding from Northzone for its social listening app built specifically for the Spotify desktop application.

Northzone already had digital music companies in its portfolio before the Soundrop deal. The venture capital firm has previously invested in Spotify, digital music label X5 Music Group and digital media player doubleTwist. Torleif Ahlsand from Northzone will join Oslo-based startup's board of directors.

Soundrop is unique because is exists only within the Spotify ecosystem. It is one of a few dozen apps currently available in the Spotify app store, and it's one of the best. Soundrop allows users to listen to music within virtual rooms with people from around the world. A typical Soundrop room is labeled by genre and plays a steady stream of music selected and voted upon by users. Vote for a song to move it up in the room's queue or select a song and hope others move it up by voting for it. Spotify has a radio function, but Soundrop is an easy-to-use and interesting alternative to an artist-based station.

The numbers point to Soundrop being a popular way to experience Spotify. The company claims to have had 3.3 million listening sessions in more than 7,000 listening rooms in May. There are thousands of people using Soundrop at any given time (14,077 late Tuesday afternoon) and often hundreds in a single listening room. The app has hosted listening events - artist-branded rooms, basically - by Carrie Underwood, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carl Cox, Sigur Rós, One Direction, the Fray and many others.

But is a great product enough to make Soundrop success? Social music is a tough category. Turntable.fm shot off like a rocket last summer but has struggled to remain relevant. In addition, Soundrop will have to deal with more competition as funding and innovation continues to flow into social music in the coming years. And, of course, there is considerable risk in hitching one's wagon to a specific music service - even one as popular as Spotify.

-- Spotify's new Android app is available at Google Play. The updated app has been redesigned and includes new navigation controls, more social features, 320 kbps listening and more. In addition, Spotify claims the new app is "so much faster" than the previous version. Only paying subscribers can use the app however - PC is free, mobile costs money. However, curious consumers can take Spotify Premium out for a free 30-day test drive.
( Spotify blog)

Amazon's Cloud Goes Apple iOS
-- Amazon has launched a Cloud Player app for iOS, giving iPhone and iPad owners the ability to stream the music collections stored in their Amazon cloud storage accounts. Owners of iOS devices will probably stick with iTunes and iCloud, but now an alternative exists for people who like to cross platforms.

Apple users already have iCloud, a cloud-based file storage service that synchronizes a user's iTunes purchases and other files - photos, documents, calendar, contacts, mail - across multiple Apple devices. Content purchased from Apple doesn't count against storage limits.

Apple devices owners can save a few dollars by using Amazon. Apple also gives away the first 5 GB of storage but charges double what Amazon charges for addition storage tiers of 10 GB ($20/year), 20 GB ($40/year) and 50 GB ($100/year). Using Cloud Player on iOS devices would eliminate those pricing benefits of using iCloud for Apple purchases.

There are other drawbacks. According to MediaMemo, iOS users will have to upload music files via the upload desktop app because the Cloud Player app won't let users upload music directly from ohe devices. In addition, iOS users cannot sign up for Cloud Player directly from the app - a result of Apple's requirement than developers relinquish 30% of in-app purchases.

But there are some positive reviews out there. CNET said the app "works quite smoothly" while the Verge called it "a really solid music effort" that makes "a viable alternative to the iTunes ecosystem." Billboard.biz has found the app to be nearly as good as the Cloud Drive app for Android, although the iOS app noticeably lacks integration with the Amazon MP3 store.

Most importantly, Apple users seem to be enjoying the app: it has a five-star rating, from 84 reviews, at Apple's App Store.