Spotify.Facebook.Login.09262011

Engadget is reporting that new Spotify accounts will require a Facebook account. Existing members are not subject to this requirement and can continue to login using their current username and password combination. I know I am not alone in having a few issues with this new arrangement.

Before I get into the potential issues, let me describe my musical listening habits. I own a 16GB Zune HD, I use my Zune Pass to listen to most of my music. I do have a significant collection of music that I have purchased or ripped from CDs. I did subscribe to Spotify for a month, but never used it. I have tried using Pandora and Mog in the past and I could never find a true use for the services. Whether it was because the music was not anything that I wanted to listen to, or because there was no way to consume the music when I most wanted to, I ended up giving up on music streaming services.

I then tried Spotify, I paid for the premium service so I could test it out on my iPhone and iPad, and I immediately did not see any fit into my life nor my work flow to justify the $10 a month cost. As I stated, I have a Zune HD, and I use it for all of my music and some podcasts (if I decide to sync them on my Zune).

I use my iPhone for Audible and listening live to podcasts. I used to carry an iPod Generation 5.5 and my iPhone and used those to listen to all of my music and podcasts but I sincerely prefer using my Zune as my music consumption device.

Now that you know my audio-based media consumption habits, let’s delve into the issues surrounding Spotify’s Facebook account requirement.

Spotify has been the envy of US-based music-listeners since the service first launched in the EU back in October of 2008. When Spotify finally arrived in the US back on July 14th, many people were jumping for joy over the arrival of a much coveted service.

At first the service was an account-based service. By this, I mean a traditional username and password service. This method follows many other services, like Twitter, Google, and Facebook. As of today, September 26th, 2011, any new subscribers to Spotify will be required to use their Facebook account to login. This is not optional for the new subscribers.

Spotify has indicated their reasoning behind this move. Spotify claims that many users already have Facebook accounts, so it is one less username and password to remember. Spotify also states “We know that Spotify’s users who connect to Facebook listen to more music on a weekly basis…they’re more engaged. Because they’re more engaged, they’re more than twice as likely to pay for music.” Certainly not having a separate username and password is simpler, and the ‘more than twice as likely to pay for music” may be true but it does not outweigh some of the potential downsides

The first issue I have with this requirement is that it will turn some users off of their service entirely. While it may be that a majority of Spotify users have a Facebook account, it does not mean that said users wish to spam their friends, acquaintances and colleagues with what they have been listening to throughout the day. While it is possible that it may be “serendipitous” to be on Facebook while a friend publishes that they’re listening to a song that sounds interesting to you, the likelihood of this occurring is low. Not because it won’t happen, but because a vast majority of users do not spend ALL day on Facebook looking at the ‘ticker’ just to see what is new with their friends. I am not saying that there aren’t users who may wish to scroll all the way back through their ticker stream, but it is very unlikely.

The second issue is data silos. Some users, myself included, wish to have as much control over what data is added to Facebook. These users either do not trust Facebook with their data, feel as though Facebook’s privacy policy is just a bunch of legal CYA, or just do not wish to spam their users. I fall into all three categories, but mostly the third category.

Many users do wish to share as much information as possible, which is their right. There are some users though, who shun and unfriend those who share too much. Why these users are even on Social Networks, I will never understand.

The third issue is that ALL information that is published from Spotify to Facebook can be used by Facebook for anything within their privacy policy. One snipped from Facebook’s privacy policy states “…the advertisers that purchase ads on the site…”. This statement can be troublesome. For instance, if a user shares an song from Spotify on Facebook, that information then goes into Facebook’s massive data center to have Ads targeted at them. It may have been a single song that the user only listened to once, say Paparazzi by Lady Gaga, since they shared that one song, Facebook may now suggest they ‘like’ Lady Gaga’s page, they may advertise Lady Gaga concert tickets, merchandise or anything else tangentially related. While many users may like this feature, the user may have only listened to the song once just to verify that they did not like the song, and did not care to listen to it again. Despite this, Facebook now has this information as another data point for them to build an individual profile for the user.

These are just three of the potential issues that may arrise due to Spotify requiring a Facebook account to login. While many users may not have a problem with these requirements, there is a rather vocal group that does have a real beef against this new policy. Will Spotify back down, I doubt it, they’re too engrained in the new Facebook for that move.