Facebook can be a very amusing place if you like me like to see stuff crash and burn. You will never find a bigger collection of grammatical errors, emo personal statements, useless trivia or technological misunderstandings. That’s why I knew it would be one of those days when I saw one of my “friends” post a link to a site that promised free Spotify premium memberships to Scandinavians- gratispremium.com. As I’m a month away from having a Bachelor’s degree in economics I know better than many people that “free” is a relative term. After further investigation into how this whole site operates, it became very clear that this was also the case here.
So what happens when you sign up on this site? Well, you either have to complete a survey, or invite 6 friends. A survey shouldn’t take you long you think and click your way through, where you’re met by a number of questions and a field at the end where it asks for your name, address, phone number and email address. To be sure no-one enters false information, the site actually checks if your address is correct and the same goes for the phone number- which is an easy thing to do since all such information is public in Scandinavia. What most people don’t bother reading though, is the terms. Those terms, cleverly hidden as a simple link in the text, states that by entering this survey, you agree to get newsletters from no less than four companies. You also agree than an unspecified amount of “partners” can contact you via phone, email, SMS and “other electronic means”, even if your phone number is reserved against such use. To top it all up, you agree that one last telemarketing service can contact you via phone, just in case those other 328746343 companies that now have ALL your contact information left you with a few extra minutes.
I had to shake my head when I read that and thought about all the idiots who blindly enter their information into anything that asks for it, and then wonders why their phone is ringing 24/7 with some telemarketer wanting to chat. A Spotify Premium subscription is about $15 a month, and to get that one month free you just told half the marketing companies in Scandinavia to contact you whenever they want to. If you selected to invite 6 friends instead, even better! More people that will give away their information freely. So to all of you who come across such an offer and wonder what the catch is, here it is. Ironically, one of the differences between Spotify free and Spotify premium is the lack of ads in the premium version, and to get that you just signed up for ten times the amount of ads via phone and email. Is it a scam? Technically no, you’re agreeing to everything they do, but I can certainly think of more honorable business models. So I ask you all, is free music worth your privacy?
UPDATE: A representative from Spotify contacted us to make sure we knew that they were not in any way affiliated with the site in question and are taking steps to do something about it. I already knew that, but in case it wasn’t clear from the article; this is an independent site that operates outside Spotify itself, and is in no way affiliated with Spotify.