Journal of the
Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association
Volume 13, Number 1 (2013)

A Case Study on Spotify: Exploring Perceptions of the Music Streaming Service

Kate Swanson

The MEIEA Journal occasionally features outstanding student papers. This undergraduate research paper was written by Kate Swanson, a recent graduate of Indiana University.


Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing music content from a range of major and independent record labels. Spotify users can either subscribe to a “Freemium” model supported by advertisements or they can pay a premium to access additional features without advertisements. Since its inception in 2008, users of this service have totaled twenty million, five million of them paying monthly fees of either US$4.99 or $9.99. Prominent artists such as Taylor Swift and The Black Keys have begun speaking out about this service, some even withholding their music from the service entirely, explaining that the payment model is unfair and that the service is cannibalizing album sales. Other artists praise the service for its ability to deliver a legal alternative to piracy, where artists can capture valuable information about their listeners and are compensated on a per-play basis. Whether we like it or not, Spotify and related music streaming services represent a window into the future of the music industry. This study investigates the perceptions of streaming services like Spotify from the perspective of all parties involved: music industry professionals, artists, and consumers in order to identify perceived needs and positive developments. The conclusion offers suggestions for the future role of streaming services in the music industry based on the survey and interview results.

Click here to download pdf of the full article (25 pgs, 4.6 mb)