In case it’s not obvious from my previous articles, I jiak kantang. That’s a Singlish term using the Hokkien word for ‘eat’ and the Malay word for ‘potato’. Among other things, it refers to my English educated background and my predominantly Western influences of entertainment. Take for example, my Spotify playlists. They’re full of Metallica, Queen, Aerosmith and the Backstreet Boys. Yes, I’m that old. Most of you will know what Spotify is, but for the three of you that don’t, it’s a free music streaming app that is revolutionising the way we enjoy music.
Oh really? I thought you had to pay to use Spotify.
Actually, you don’t. Spotify’s free service already allows you to stream a wide range of music at decent audio quality levels. All you have to do is endure the occasional advertisement, which really isn’t a big deal (unless your ears are really allergic to anything that is not music – in which case half the artists on Spotify probably don’t qualify anyway).
Oh and you can only skip a few songs an hour on mobile. The reason you probably think Spotify is a subscription based app is because most Spotify users in Singapore are more than happy to pay the $9.90 monthly fee to remove ads, to create playlists of your favourite songs, as well as download music to your desktop or mobile device for offline listening.
Why would you need to pay to download music when you can stream it for free?
Because streaming music on your daily commute to and from work can consume a fair bit of data. Regular usage of Spotify to stream music, for example, would use up about 1.5 to 2Gb of data each month. This wouldn’t have been a problem back in 2010, when the norm for mobile data plans was 12Gb of data. But in a short 5 years later, telco data plans only allow you to use 2 to 3Gb a month before they start charging you for exceeding your allocated data. In such a situation, it makes more sense to pay the flat fee of $9.90 each month for the ability to download music.
But that creates another problem – that of space. All this music you’re downloading has to be stored somewhere, and unless you splurged for a phone model with 64Gb memory, you’re eventually going to find out that your phone doesn’t have space for both your music and your selfies.
This puts Spotify users in a dilemma – should we risk exceeding our data plan, or our phone’s memory? Singtel seems to have the perfect solution – Singtel Music, it’s new data-free music streaming service.
Wait, what? A data-free plan?
That’s right, in February, the telco launched Singtel Music, a service which allows you to subscribe to one of three premium music accounts, Spotify Premium, KKBOX and Singtel’s very own AMPed, for as little as $7.90 a month for Singtel customers with a postpaid contract. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Subscribe to Singtel Music, and you can get Spotify Premium for $2 less than their usual monthly fee. Not only that, you’ll never have to worry about how much data you use for streaming or downloading. Do note, however, that the data charges are not waived for videos, live concerts, images, articles, audio and banner advertisements. Data charges are also not waived if you are overseas.
Wait, what about my existing Spotify playlists? I can’t imagine redoing them all from scratch.
According to the Singtel Music website, you’ll be able to keep your account with your playlists and downloads. All you need to do is cancel your current in-app subscription and then sign up with Singtel Music. You’ll then get an activation link via SMS to link to your existing Spotify account. Seems ridiculously simple.
If you don’t mind singing away your soul- I mean, your mobile plan to Singtel for 12 months, you’ll start paying $7.90, or $2 less, for Spotify Premium, and you’ll never need to worry about data charges due to Spotify. If your workplace has blocked Spotify for whatever reason, you can now listen to it on your mobile the whole day and not be shocked when your monthly bill comes in.
If you are already a Singtel postpaid customer but don’t want to be locked in to Singtel for another 12 months, you can get Singtel Music without contract for $9.90 a month. Sure, you don’t save any money each month, but at least you have peace of mind when it comes to data usage.
Basically, if you’re already a Singtel postpaid customer and a Spotify Premium user, then switching over to Singtel Music seems like an obvious decision.
“Seems like”? What’s the catch?
To save $2 a month on your Spotify subscription, you will need to sign up for a Singtel Music contract plan for 12 months. This means that if you cancel your Singtel Music subscription, you will be charged an early cancellation fee.
Also, after paying $7.90 for 12 months, Singtel Music will be automatically renewed at $9.90 per month. You will need to manually sign up for Singtel Music again for another 12-month contract if you want to enjoy the lower $7.90 per month subscription fee. Assuming this offer still exists a year from now.
What if you’re not a Singtel customer?
Then the question comes up about switching telcos. Is saving $2 a month worth the hassle of moving from your current telco to Singtel? That’s up for you to decide. However, don’t forget that the only way to save that extra $2 each month is to sign up with Singtel Music for 12 months, to say nothing of how long your postpaid mobile contract is going to be.
Also, with the potential entry of a fourth telco in the Singapore market, a price war could mean the end of miserly data plans and a return to the more generous data plans of the past. Already, M1 is now offering a 12-month mobile plan that offers 5Gb a month for only $30. Remember, basic Spotify streaming usage only uses between 1.5 to 2Gb of data a month. The premise of a data-free plan seems less groundbreaking if all telcos start competing to offer more data.
Are you a Spotify user? Will you be switching to Singtel Music? Share your thoughts with us.