11 Things Spotify Needs to Win the Online Music War

From Complex Magazine:

The battle for online music supremacy is in full swing. Between Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Rdio, Slacker, Rhapsody, and a few others, competition is fierce, and it’s only getting more intense. Like any other business, anyone in the market has a fair shot at success, but since Spotify’s American debut two summers ago, its shown a serious capacity to dominate the online music industry.

Personally, we’re big fans of Spotify at Complex. The streaming service has anchored features like our 50 Best Songs of 2012 and Kendrick Lamar’s 25 Favorite Albums lists, but there’s still room for growth. Last year, Spotify became the second biggest source of revenue for record labels, so it’s definitely not going anywhere, but we think the service can have an even bigger 2013—especially if certain features are added or improved upon.

After logging hours of obsessive library management and endless play counts, it’s safe to say that we’re very familiar with Spotify. Here’s what we’d like to see happen with the streaming service, sooner than later:

Stop letting other services get big exclusives.
Two of last year’s biggest releases, Rihanna’s Unapologetic and Taylor Swift’s Red, aren’t on Spotify. Still. Over a month after each LP came out. But they are on iTunes. This simply cannot happen.

We know this has more to do with record labels and the increased profit margins they see from digital downloads versus streams, but it’s a lose/lose situation for both parties. Given Spotify’s massive popularity, labels leave a lot of money and exposure on the table when they withhold major albums from the service, and of course, Spotify loses users in search of those albums.

Whatever talks need to happen, whatever compromises need to be met, Spotify needs to get it done. Their exclusive pre-release stream of Crystal Castles’ last album, (III), was an excellent of how album rollouts should be handled. We’d love to see more of that.

Give explicit versions equal billing.
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you play a song like A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Probems” because you just want to hear 2 Chainz scream, “Yeah, I like to fuck, I got a fuckin’ problem” but instead you hear, “Yeah I like to ____, I got a _____ problem.”

Fact is, clean versions suck. They’re like decaf coffee or non-alcoholic beer. But, we must admit they serve a purpose. When you’re in the whip with your mom and you’re not trying to offend her with a rapper’s potty mouth or you want to introduce your nephew to an awesome song but don’t want to be a bad role model, a clean version can be the right solution. However, that’s only the case like 3.8% of the time. That’s why Spotify needs to chill with giving clean versions top billing.

Meek Mill’s “Amen” is still only available in an edited format. The same goes for Eminem’s vulgar Slim Shady LP. And sometimes, explicit versions are available, but they’re a hassle to find, like “Fuckin’ Problems,” for example. Us rap fans like our profanity—don’t take that away from us.

Add a repeat option.
Spotify does have a general repeat mode, but the only way to repeat one song is to put it in a playlist all by itself and turn on the repeat mode. Nobody wants to make a one-song playlist. Sometimes we’re in the middle of an album or our Starred selections, we get fixated one song, and we want to play it over and over with minimal effort.

It seems like a simple enough request for Spotify to make this a reality, although we suspect there’s some legal issue at hand that’s prevented this from happening. Regardless, the users want it, and that’s enough of a reason to get it figured out.

Continue reading the rest of the story on Complex Magazine