Triple J's Spotify conundrum

Has Triple J managed to find the balance between meeting editorial policy and keeping up with the latest available technology, such as Spotify?
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor and  Luke Hopewell, Contributor

Has Triple J managed to find the balance between meeting editorial policy and keeping up with the latest available technology, such as Spotify?


Triple J on Spotify
(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

After such a lengthy wait, and more than a couple of false starts, music-streaming service Spotify launched in Australia earlier this week, and was generally well received — at least, judging from anecdotal evidence from the people I follow on Twitter.

Not one to fall behind the times on the latest fad (though I'll never understand the station's love of Australian hip-hop), Triple J created a music app for Spotify that includes top tracks being played on the station and several years' worth of Triple J Hottest 100 playlists. It all looks rather shiny and cool.

In order to fund itself, and ensure that artists at least make some money back on their tracks, Spotify has a few different pricing plans. The service runs a free, ad-supported tier that allows access to streamed tracks. Ads take the form of in-client banners and forced audio ads every four or five tracks. To remove the ads, users can pay $6.99 per month for Spotify Unlimited, while the full package, including offline support and premium sound quality, costs $11.99 per month.

In between listening to politicians argue with each other to no end over "laying the National Broadband Network cable" in Budget Estimates hearings on Thursday, I put on one of the Triple J playlists to ease the pain. To my surprise, by the fourth track, on comes an audio ad for the Commonwealth Bank.

"But this is Triple J content? Surely ads are banned?" I thought.

Apparently not. Triple J manager Chris Scaddan told my colleague Luke Hopewell yesterday that Triple J is just providing the tunes, and has no control over the ads:

Just as the ABC has created apps for other online platforms, we've created an app for this new platform. There is not a Triple J "feed" as such; instead, the Triple J app acts as a filter over the Spotify service itself, recommending music and helping an audience to discover new sounds.

The free service of Spotify does place ads between songs. However, the Triple J app acts as a filter for the Spotify service, so there is no suggestion that ads are being played on ABC services. We have not received complaints or confusion about Spotify advertising and the new app. Modern audiences understand how to "read" that proximity, and don't confuse it with Triple J itself.

The ABC editorial policies guide our presence on third-party services, and we have considered them seriously in the development of the Triple J Spotify app. We believe the app meets the standards within the ABC editorial policies.

When it's put that way, it's not that surprising that Triple J has little control over the platform it's supplying content to, and it's good that the national broadcaster is flexible enough in its discretion to meet user demands, rather than being tied to archaic media rules about what it can and can't do.

But that's one thing that we can always be proud of our ABC for. The organisation's iView online video-streaming service is miles ahead of anything else available in Australia, and, since the launch of Spotify, there have been calls from people such as Fairfax columnist John Birmingham to make a video-streaming service just like that. If a commercial company could launch a service like iView with ads or subscriptions to bring out Game of Thrones on time, it'd be right on the money.

How are you finding Spotify? Is it everything you imagined? Or are you using another music-streaming service?

Editorial standards