I stumbled across spotify.com recently and thanks to an invitation from Vikki Chowney from Six Degrees PR I now have access to this free service.

In a nutshell, it is an online music service with an easy to use and intuitive desktop client that just works.  Enter a song title, genre, or artist and click search.  If they have it, it is presented and you click on it and it plays – bingo!

They have a free service which is ad funded (discreet ads appear on the sidebar and every few songs a 20 sec ad is played), or for £0.99/day or £9.99/month or even £99/year the service is ad-free.

I’ve tried a few music services such as last.fm but none are as easy to use as spotify.

At the moment the service is in beta, so you need an invite from a user, but they have made an excellent start.  If you know me or are on twitter, DM me and will send you an invite – I have 10 left.

I love music.  I love listening to my own tunes on the go (side loading to a memory card to stick in my phone has taken hours and hours to load just 1500 songs or so), but when working at my desk, I sometimes want to listen so something I haven’t copied from my CD collection.

I don’t own an iPod or iPhone so don’t use iTunes.  Last.fm is good – and the recommendation engine has uncovered some interesting new selections.  However (and perhaps it’s just me) last.fm is not the easiest service to navigate.  Spotify seems to fit the bill because it is simple to use. You can also easily share tunes via social networking using spotify: identifiers.

I would expect in their next phase they will add recommendation and the ability to download and keep music to a portable player or phone – but for now the service matches my needs exactly.

They have a good depth of tracks and artists in the catalogue, and have done a deal with leading labels such as Sony BMG, Universal, EMI and Warner.  Pretty much all of my personal music choices are represented, and also albums I never bought I now have instant access to – brilliant!!

Their goal is clear: to let everyone listen to whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want (this hints a mobile angle is on the roadmap).

The business model seems interesting, but I’m not confident I would sign up for £9.99/month or £99/year.

I’m sure I could justify that a year’s worth of unlimited music for the cost of just 10 CD’s is reasonable, but for a new, untested service fronting up £99 (or even a recurring £9.99) seems a tad too high.

I think my price point for taking up the paid service would be £50/year.  The problem will be for those early adopters who do sign up, only to find the service gets discounted.

The recent Nokia comes with music service has a price point of around £130 for a yearly subscription (and you get a free phone), and the Vodafone music services from Omnifone is around £2 per week (so this is also around the £100/year price point).  Perhaps the £100/year level is what the research has shown is acceptable.

Well done to the spotify team – a great service and a simple interface.  If you need a beta tester – count me in – I think your service rocks (pun intended).

Note to spotify developers – include a simple profiling tool – ie ASK ME what I’m interested in (hobbies, what I do on the weekend, etc).  I’ll tell you. Then you can tailor the ads to things I’m actually interested in (I don’t have a need for an Xbox – even after I have heard the ad 5 times) and I might buy things from your advertisers – making the whole ad model really work. 

Have a read of a recent post of mine Ask, don’t tell – the golden rule for mobile advertising 2.0 because it rings true for this service also – and should ultimately lead to more ad revenue for you.

iTunes – watch out!