Why I Stopped Using Spotify
Yeah, we know... Spotify is huge and has tons of users. That doesn't mean they aren't losing thousands of customers to Apple everyday AND it doesn't mean they're bullet-proof. Product market fit is a moving target and it's definitely moving away from them at the moment.
Here's my story:
Spotify had strong product market fit with me. I was able to listen to any song I ever wanted, from every artist I ever cared about, and I didn't even have to download anything. I could make and share playlists. It was great, and it was all right there at my fingertips.
Spotify literally had me for about a year and half, almost two full years, before Apple came along with something very similar. This is where I began to deviate from Spotify. You see, for me it all boiled down to one, simple factor: my car. I have a BMW 535, and anytime I would connect my Spotify to it, I couldn't control anything from my phone anymore. The screen would be replaced by the Spotify logo, and it forced me to, instead, control everything using the spinning dial on my car's media interface, which I happen to find very annoying while driving. I'm used to using my phone all day, and not my car's radio, which made the experience less desirable and frankly clumsy for me. It was a horrible user experience.
I'm guessing they did it because of laws, or something. They don't want you glued to your phone while simultaneously trying to operate a vehicle at high speeds, I get that, but what if I'm in my car in front of my house at a dead stop or if I'm not even driving and am just a passenger? The point is, Apple somehow got around all that.
I was hesitant at first to switch cold turkey, but slowly warmed up to trying Apple's free trial. As it turned out, they had pretty much all the same features that I loved about Spotify. There were a handful of things I liked more on Spotify, granted, but not enough to keep me loyal to the brand, even after almost two years. The nail in the coffin for me, though, was the ability to control my music with my phone in my car.
Brad Feld says, "Every time you work on something new, whether it's a new feature, a new product, or a new product line, recognize that you are searching for incremental product/market fit. The search is a continuous and never ending quest."
Founders, even one's you have heard of seem to be forgetting, product market fit is a moving target now more than ever. The difference today, though, is the competition is releasing new content and features every week (Google releases new versions of their apps multiple times a day), which is unprecedented. For Spotify it's especially difficult since they are competing against one of the worlds most successful companies ever, Apple, who're always going to try to not only one-up you, but leap frog you. I wouldn't want to compete with Apple on anything, really. They've essentially taken over our entire media experience, to the point that we look to them for just about everything from tv to music, and then some. Watch out cable companies, Apple TV is here.
Many times we compare products based on price, but when the prices of two products are the same, we are forced to consider other factors. For me, the user experience while in my car was a deal-breaker. You could argue that maybe the fault fell to BMW, and not Spotify, for creating a feature that stopped me from using my phone to control my music with Spotify, but even if that were the case, I'm not trading in my BMW. They've got product market fit for me for a lot of other reasons that supersede that single feature.
My take-away from this experience is that even a company like Spotify, that was first to the market and found product/market fit, has failed to relentlessly innovate in order to stay ahead. Chris Meyers says, "...hook people early on and focus attention on serving the right customer base. If you take a proactive approach to solving the issues and commit to adjusting strategies as you work toward your goals, you'll find yourself generating the demand your product deserves."
Leo Widrich wrote about product/market fit saying, "Sometimes we lose track of our customers and instead focus on terms, such as "product/market fit" and if we were in closer touch with our customers we would know whether we have it or not."
Theresa Johnston says, "When you nail it, you'll know. Companies that find just the right market fit for their product tend to see dramatic and rapid growth." Finding product/market fit is not the end of the fight though. That's why we preach ten experiments a week, or you're probably going to fail. We believe in growth marketing and experiments to find that product market fit.
This is especially true for startups because if you are not constantly iterating and making your product better then when a giant like Apple sees you are having some success they can easily swoop in and take over the market. If you can’t outspend your competitors then you need to outsmart, “out-focus,” and “out-iterate” them.
I don't dislike Spotify, in fact I am rooting for them. I'm just hoping they can be as relentless as they have to be or they will be swallowed up.