Spotify Dirty Little DRM Secret Crucial On Mobile Platforms

The roaring success of Spotify, the online music service, is owed partly to the fact that it is a free service - that's as far as consumers are concerned and it appears that the record and independent music labels have been pretty receptive to the arguments of the Swedish outfit.

What makes Spotify unique, in a sense, is that it managed to convince the guys who matters that it can convince music listeners to move from a scenario where they own music to one where they pay to actually listen to music online, essentially a subscription service.

And to do that, rather than relying on wireless connections, it came up with a cunning system of caching which allows it to store encrypted music files on any devices.

The system is actually protected by a proprietary Digital Rights Management solution which almost everyone seems to be embracing without complaining a lot.

It is quite puzzling that no one actually managed to crack the DRM system and advertise it, not that it is particularly to break into Spotify.

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The issue though is that unlike say DVD CSS (Content Scramble System), there is no real incentive to crack a free system, however pervert it is.

DeSpotify, the most prevalent solution that has been used to hack Spotify, has been in quasi hibernation for some months already. Bottom line is without DRM, there would certainly be no mobile platform.

It got Andrew Orlowski from the Register to ask one significant question; "So does this mean people love DRM all of a sudden? Or begun to tolerate it? Or stopped caring?" before saying that he was not sure.

Users are still quite nervous when it comes to taking away files that they own and convert it to a service instead but it works. US-based Rhapsody essentially is the same service and most users have been quite happy about using a DRM-based system.

Spotify may also betting on the fact that users will be listening to the same old tracks over and over again. This is what drove the success of commercial radios and could allow Spotify to convince mobile phone networks that its service may not be as resource-taxing as one may think.

Over the past four months of using Spotify, we managed to listen to around a thousand songs weighing around 1.2GB at most (Spotify uses a lower-bit rate for free music) which is sustainable for the mobile networks.

But while Rhapsody appears to have been feeling the heat lately even with 750,000 paying subscribers, Spotify has managed to ride the storm by getting record labels onboard at a very early stage.