Spotify is a service that allows users to legally listen to music free of charge. The service is supported by advertisements, and offers a premium version that allows users to pay US$5 (approximately RO2) to remove these advertisements and access additional features such as offline playback.
Spotify is not the only or first option available to stream music for free in the region. Anghami has been available to users in the Middle East for a long time and provides some unique features that are not available on Spotify, such as playing music in the browser free of charge and without the need to register at all.
However, the availability of Spotify is still a major development because it is an internationally recognised brand that has a much bigger music catalogue and is available on countless platforms ranging from desktops and mobile devices to smart TVs and game consoles. Spotify is also more user-friendly than Anghami and has unique discovery features that use algorithms to help users learn about new music that they might like on the basis of their previous activity on the service and the activities of other users who share a similar taste in music.
Even before Spotify was available in the region, many local and regional artistes have had their music available on it including local superstars such as Saleh al Zadjali and new Omani talents such as Emaan.
Video and audio content creators, in Oman and elsewhere, recognise that YouTube is an extremely important platform for them to be available on if they would like their work to be accessible to the widest possible audience. YouTube does not only provide creators with a platform on which they can freely upload their content, but it also allows them to monetise this content and make some profit from their videos. Spotify can provide similar opportunities to audio Omani content creators. The platform can expose Omani musicians to new audiences, can provide an easy way for these artistes to upload their content on the Internet, and can provide them with the opportunity to make money from their music.
Even though Spotify is infamous for paying rights-holders extremely low amounts of money, this should not be an issue for Omani musicians. Making a profit from the sale of music has never been an option to Omani musicians, and even major pop celebrities in the region do not consider the sale of music as a source of income. Instead, the music industry here primarily revolves around private concerts and weddings, which makes the low payments from Spotify unlikely to affect the prospect of making money for new or established local musicians.
The greatest contribution that Spotify makes to the Omani music industry is that it provides users with a legal outlet for consuming music instead of relying on piracy, which should hopefully improve the culture of respecting intellectual property in Oman and the extent to which Omanis are willing to pay for digital content they consume.