Spotify is holding a press conference in New York today where it says it will reveal a "new direction" for the streaming music service. What could Spotify announce for its 10-million-member service? The tech press, myself included, has been befuddled by the question for the past week.
Here some educated guesses that I and others have come up with for Spotify's big news.
App-ification of Spotify:
Both Wired and All Things D reported Spotify will announce it's opening up its library of music to third party developers who will tap into Spotify's music library and incorporate it into applications. That means Wednesday's announcement might include a revamp of the Spotify API, some sort of new commercial terms for building and selling apps that tap into Spotify's music library, or perhaps a full-blown new Spotify app store.
The Wall Street Journal says the apps will be free and only available on desktop and laptop systems at first, with mobile apps to follow. They would be similar to Facebook apps, adding new functions like creating playlist "subscriptions" that will update on smartphones as well. Other examples Spotify apps include an app for song lyrics, buying concert tickets, etc
All Things D says some music industry execs support the idea of Spotify becoming an "authentication layer," much like Facebook now is for myriad services--including Spotify. Perhaps not coincidentally, Virgin Media's cable TV arm in the UK has just announced a new Spotify app for its Virgin Media TiVO this morning.
A Music Store
Much of the instant speculation right after Spotify announced its event was that it would follow in Google's footsteps and open its own MP3 store. This is something that the service already offers in Europe, so it would have to be some pretty radical take on the concept to justify all the "global" event hoopla. Perhaps some drastically different pricing plan might be the answer, with individual songs much cheaper than iTunes or Amazon, a la eMusic's subscription model.
A Stand-Alone Social Network
Spotify's integration with Facebook hasn't exactly been a roaring success. Users rebelled against the idea of needing a Facebook account to login to Spotify, and the constant sharing of what songs you listen to with your friends has proved to be far more annoying than interesting. There's little actual evidence that Spotify is working to build its own social network to create the music-sharing ecosystem that is the holy grail for streaming service, or that it would have any interest in burning that bridge with Facebook, but it would be an interesting hail mary pass, and would explain the hype.
TV and Movies
This seems like the sleeper of Spotify theories to me. In the spring, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek denied rumors that a movie streaming addition was in the works. Perhaps now is the time, with Spotify finally launched in the U.S. and Netflix struggling, it could turn the company into an all-in-one streaming powerhouse overnight.
Spotify on Your TV
A few other predictions—that Spotify will introduce new options to buy concert tickets and artist merchandise, that it will announce a slew of new partnerships with mobile carriers, or that it's partnering with all kinds of settop box makers—don't quite rise to the occasion in my mind. We might see Spotify on all kinds of devices as part of a new API announcement, but simply introducing Spotify on Roku doesn't have much sizzle.
A Wild Card
If any of the above are announced, Spotify is really going to have to make them sparkle to live up to its own hype. Some really cool new uses of a commercial API might do it, or an incredible new library of streaming video… Or we can always hope for something truly new and unexpected—some kind of wild card that didn't make anyone's list. We shall see soon.