February 8, 2009

When will Spotify’s regional restrictions be removed?

As you probably are aware of, Spotify announced last week that they were about to apply the regional restrictions which were part of the license agreements with the record companies. This is not such a surprising step though it might be annoying for us users.

Using the function to show unplayable tracks give me this image of one of my playlists. The red/brown tracks cannot be played. I am in the UK at the moment and since it is country specific restrictions they might very well vary. It might seem as a significant part, and I guess it is. But I also imagine that they will try to include them in the 10000 tracks added each day.

The discussion around regional restrictions should definitely be held but it must be around having them as a general phenomena and not whether or not Spotify should apply already agreed upon contractual regulations.

When it then comes to the record labels and they applying restrictions to music based on geographic territory I think it makes sense in the old economy thinking. When music mainly was (intended) to be sold on physical carriers such as CDs having regional limitations and using different distributors in different areas made perfectly sense.

But today, when music as easy could be downloaded in Gothenburg, London or Doha the restrictions makes less sense. The user will most certainly want to hear the same music independent of where in the world she is at the moment. As well as she would like to share the playlists or suggestions of interesting songs with friends around the globe.

When it comes to Spotify I am not sure if they will be the force that will change the thinking of the whole music industry. But they might at least change the customer behavior which eventually will change the labels, even if it probably will take some time.

Johan Örneblad


  1. Hey you Spotify users scattered all over. Recently relocated temporarily to the Netherlands. Have used Spotify for a couple of hours now and haven't heard a single commercial break with the free version.

    If this is not a coincident this could be an indicator that audio-ads is not working perfectly in this business model. Lack of scalability etc. etc.

    How are things working for you in located in London?

  2. Eaglehorn,

    I think the recent dropouts of songs in your playlists rather is due to the recent general restrictions of Spotify (http://www.svd.se/kulturnoje/nyheter/artikel_2392775.svd) than regional differences.

    /Johnny Shotgun

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