November 20, 2014
Following a mutually evolving development towards an increasingly more convenient and on-demand service, one focusing on music the other on cabs, it was surely inevitable that the music streaming platform Spotify would partner with taxi-cab booking app Uber for a service that would culturally tie the brands audience and their respective appeal for in-app control and services when and where they wanted them. The new in-app service may be evidence of another incremental shift from service provider being curator to service receiver self-curating and customising their own way. The shift of control goes straight back to the handsets, with its obvious risks and advantages.
Spotify, however, could have better timed their partnership with Uber. The cab app have been cited in bad press since launch with a growing number of enemies including local regulators, most taxi drivers and some journalists among them. Allegations around Ubers’ PR behaviour and their increasingly renowned reputation for ruthless business strategy seeing taxi cabs worldwide up in arms over undercutting fare prices and pulling the rug out from beneath the honest cabbie’s trade. With some citing the new feature as a totally bad idea.
The new music feature however will not be forced onto Uber drivers but the feature may give those who opt-in an added advantage and potentially positive reviews and feedback from their happy riders. Although, how far are we from choosing a cab service on whether they provide Spotify music over how soon they pick you up or how far they are willing to travel? As we move toward Google’s inevitable introduction of un-manned cars, on-demand, a ‘yet to be trusted’ car of the future, we have already reached a music on-demand service. Spotify isn’t the first music provider for the likes of user controlled music on bars and restaurants. Apps such as Secret DJ already provide certain level of music control from within an app. With such control do we risk losing the art of ‘ambience setting’ by bar and restaurant owners for the advantage of simply being able to choose your own music?
The burning question however remains; Will the Spotify service in Uber cabs encourage loud and obnoxious pop, club or sing-along disruption to an already pressured driver? The in-car demands of reaching their destination, safe and securely within a reasonable time at a competitive cost (with an increasing amount going straight to Uber) on top of maintenance demands just to keep his cab on the road. However, cabbie’s can have ‘bad taste’ in music too or even worse just simply leaving sport or local radio with generic golden hit list playing all day can be somewhat disappointing to taxiing music fans. For drivers; the big issue seems that drunk passengers are hard enough to deal with as it is without having the distraction of disruptive loud music.
Despite all the furore, the new service launches across ’10 global launch cities include: London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto.’ 21 November 2014 (Tomorrow).
So in the immediate future (pun very very much intended) a possible new addition to the only two things people say to cab drivers being;
“been busy tonight?” and “what time do you clock off?” to “Mind if I put some music on?”