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Lots of Attention for Spotify/Uber Deal

Music service engages the trendy new ride-sharing segment

Spotify is getting lots of buzz for its just-announced partnership with Uber, the ride-sharing service. On Friday the deal will launch with “special events” including listener ride-alongs with featured artists.

Under the “integration,” subscribers to Spotify Premium, its paid service, will be able to play their music through the arriving car’s speakers. The agreement starts for riders in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Toronto, London, Mexico City, Singapore, Stockholm and Sydney.

Spotify is the digital music service that has been in the news lately as a poster child in the debate over the role of sometimes-free music services and their relationship to artists like Taylor Swift. Uber is a mobile-based system that lets riders find and summon nearby drivers; it is active in about 200 cities. A notable feature is that it allows riders and drivers to rate one another.

The deal has enjoyed lots of coverage. An article in Slate reported: “What’s ‘nirvana’ to riders is likely to be at best a nuisance to their drivers. On the online forum, drivers are already expressing concern that loud music will be distracting and unsafe, and that their ratings will suffer if they don’t have the audio capabilities needed for the partnership.” But Uber’s two-way rating system, Slate added, might help balance things out.

Trade media website RAIN quoted Spotify’s CEO saying Uber and Spotify have parallel missions, with Uber providing cars on demand, and Spotify offering music on demand, both regardless of location. Summarized RAIN: “In this context, the agreement plays into the consumer trend of accessing content and services rather than owning them. Uber’s success hints at a generation of consumers for whom car ownership might be a fading transportation model. Spotify represents the established consumer migration from owning music to accessing it in the cloud.”

Media consultant Mark Ramsey boiled the agreement down into this tweet: “Spotify takes over the car radio – even somebody else’s car.”

The music/taxi integration is available to Uber and Spotify Premium users on iOS, and on Android with fewer features. “Simply connect your Spotify account via the Uber app, request a ride, and when you get matched up with a Spotify-enabled Uber, select music that suits your mood,” the companies state. “Your tunes will be playing when your Uber arrives, and you can change it up at any time.”

A demo video explains it.