New York Times x Spotify: What This Deal Could Mean
    • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017

    • Posted by: Robert Steiner

    On Wednesday, The New York Times announced a partnership with Spotify to launch an all-new subscription package. According to Pitchfork, for $5 a week, NYT All Access subscribers will also receive a Spotify Premium account at no extra cost. "News and music have gone hand-in-hand since the early days of radio," said NYT executive vice president Meredith Kopit Levien in a press release, "and because personalization and curation are central to what both The Times and Spotify do so well, we created an experience for Times readers that gives them access to all the news and all the music that they want in one premier subscription."

    This deal may come as a surprise for many, considering the historic newspaper and the streaming titan have seemingly had very little to do with each other up until now. However, as unlikely as it may have been, the deal might begin to make more sense once you consider the respective companies' possible motivations behind striking such a partnership. It's no secret the traditional newspaper type of journalism is having a hard time competing in the age of clickbait and independent, online-based news sources, and despite its name recognition, The Times is no exception to this trend. The reality is that most young people aren't willing to pay for their news when you have thousands of options for the same stories online, even when most of these sources may not have the greatest credibility. Speaking of credibility, it's also probably a lot harder for a reporter to do their job when you have a White House effectively telling them to shut their damn mouth and write puff pieces about our Dear Leader. So clearly, The Times needs a way to adapt to the changing times and find a way to keep the shop open, and while it may not be the be-all-end-all solution, this Spotify deal sounds like a step in the right direction.

    In my opinion, it sounds like the main audience NYT is targeting are people who are willing to pay for streaming but not for news, and vise versa. With this subscription package, those kinds of people now get both their music, and since it's Spotify it's literally all the music, and access to all of The Times' in-depth resources. Better yet, instead of worrying about two separate bills, you can now pay for both at one time, and nothing like a little consolidation to bring some zen into your life. Also, with Spotify currently leading one of the fastest and most profitable industries at the moment, why wouldn't they want to find a way to be apart of it? Again, journalism isn't doing so hot, so you might as well get involved with something that is. Mrs. Kopit Levien had a point about music and news, but not about them being on radio (yet another industry running on fumes), but more about uniting the two forms of media again. For the most part, music and news have separated due to the age of the Internet, so this might be NYT and Spotify testing the waters and seeing if a joint music/news partnership is still viable and, more importantly, profitable.

    Spotify's motivations may be a little more nuanced, as they really are doing just fine without The Times and don't necessarily need them like The Times needs Spotify. However, Pitchfork also reported that this partnership comes fresh off the heels of a deal between Spotify and Tinder, of all companies, as well as a new project between Spotify and AccuWeather called Climatune, a site that creates playlists based on the weather. It seems like that Spotify isn't trying to adapt to survive, but more like try out as many ideas as they can and see what sticks because they're in a profitable enough position to do so. While Spotify is doing great right now, Apple Music, Pandora, and (to a lesser extent) Tidal are fighting a good fight in the streaming wars, so it's better that they experiment with their brand now while it's an option versus later when they might be scrambling to catch up. If this NYT deal goes over well, then that might be Spotify's way into news, something they don't have a ton of on their site currently, which will allow them to grow their online presence, potentially dominate two different industries, and perhaps even extend further into other industries like video streaming. Again, I'm wildly speculating here, but it looks to me like Spotify is at least trying to extend out of music and into other forms of media, and these various deals might be the first steps of a much larger vision of a Spotify media empire.

    There's a lot about this deal that's yet to be determined, namely if people are willing to pay $20 a month for music and news versus $10 a month for just music. But if it finds an audience, The Times might have just found their meal ticket, and Spotify might be apart of our lives in a much more present way in the near future.
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