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Report: Spotify planning to launch browser-based music player

First reported on Techcrunch earlier today, multiple sources have indicated that music subscription service Spotify is preparing to launch a version of the Spotify music player that operates entirely within the modern Web browser. Rather than having to download the standalone Spotify application, users will hypothetically be able to visit the Spotify site and start listening to music right away by simply signing up for an account. After logging into their account, the user will be able to access their playlists as well. Ideally, this will make Spotify more comparable to Pandora which already operates within a user’s Web browser. It will also eleminate the need of downloading the Spotify application to listen to music when using another computer while away from home.

Spotify UsersIn addition to a Web-based version of the Spoitfy music player, the same sources have mentioned that the Discovery function is being redesigned. Hypothetically, Spotify could add a feature similar to Twitter’s recommendation feature regarding which popular Twitter users to follow.

As Techcrunch speculates, Spotify could point users in the direction of popular recording artists or other types of musicians. This would encourage new Spotify users to follow these celebrities in order to discover what type of music populates their playlists. 

Techcrunch’s sources haven’t indicated if a mobile version of the browser-based player, similar to Grooveshark’s recently released browser-based mobile application, is also in the works. However, sources have indicated that Spotify management is mulling a price drop on the plan that offers mobile device access to the Spotify player. The monthly price for mobile device access of Spotify Premium is currently $9.99, but sources speculate that it could drop to approximately $8 per month. In addition to being a completely advertising free version of Spotify, Spotify Premium members can access music at a higher quality bitrate in addition to utilizing an offline mode for playlists. That feature is ideal for situations like traveling on an airplane or perhaps just laying on a desolate beach. 

Spotify-PremiumEliminating the barriers to entry when a new consumer is interested in Spotify is likely a top priority due to the company’s general lack of profitability. Detailed in the New York Times this week, commentary about an analysis of Spotify indicates that the company is losing money attempting to operate the free version of Spotify.

According to Enders Analysis, the firm that conducted the research, Spotify profited $76 million from the subscription service, but lost approximately the same amount on promoting and funding the free version of the service. It’s obvious that display and other forms of advertising aren’t generating enough revenue to support free users.

While approximately 15 million people use Spotify to listen to music every month, only four million pay the monthly subscription fee to remove advertisements from the application and gain access to added features. Within the report, Enders Analysis recommended that Spotify starts implementing monthly listening caps on users around the world in order to encourage free users to pay the monthly subscription fee.

However, Spotify has been reluctant to roll out hourly caps on listening as users could easily move to a free alternative like Pandora or another music service. Another tactic to encourage more subscribers would be to increase the amount of advertising within the application, but that could also encourage users to try other alternatives on the Web.