Description : Spotify has an iTunes-like interface without the annoying slowness of iTunes. It uses an online catalogue of music, bigger than Amazon’s, with instant playback and no buffering (of course, that’s subjective, as I’m running on a University internet connection which, of course, is fairly fast!). Spotify also has a real easy sharing feature; drag and drop creates a URL tailored to point Spotify to a track, album or playlist. Requires an internet connection, and you cant put the tracks on your MP3 player or iPod, but it sure is a hell of a lot of free music! Sorry you folks in the US, this is not currently for you. Spotify just came to the UK, so hopefully soon it will be with you!
I recently was told about Spotify via twitter about a week ago, and only looked into it about 3 days ago. I can really see this spreading like wildfire across the internet, and really cutting down illegal downloads of music. Spotify is such a simple concept, and is, in my opinion, possibly the best service for streaming music to date. It works on the same basis as radio, putting in a few 30 second adverts here and there, but hey, fair enough.
Setting up an account was easy. Visit the website, enter some information, and you’re away. Downloading the application was fast, as its only a few MB! The login window looks nice (I’m being very critical), even down to the slight drop shadow (Yeah, I like drop shadow, get over it).
Spotify only became invite free to the UK on 10th February 2009. Spotify has actually been in development since way before 2008! How it’s managed to stay hidden for so long, I’m not quite sure, but it has. I’ve only been using Spotify for a few days now, and I can’t remember the last time I found some new freeware which fitted so nicely to my ideals.
So, will track x or y be on there? Well, since the Spotify blog has updates of newly added music and labels, the answer is probably yes. Already they have EMI, Universal, Sony, Warner Music, AMG and Merlin. Those are some rather big names, especially Sony with its history of illegal DRM on music CDs and the like.
Ok, so the obvious question here is, how is it funded? How is it free and yet legal? It uses the same idea as conventional radio – adverts. Not lengthy adverts, just 30 second adverts every so often (A lot less than I expected. Sometimes I forget they are even there). A few adverts also appear in the Spotify window to the right, which is fine by me. The other option, is to get a paid subscription, and make your music advert free. 99p for a day pass, or £9.99 a month. Of course, free version is still there!
What advantage does it have over, say, LastFM, Grooveshark-lite or Pandora? How do they compare?
I have been an avid user of Pandora and LastFM, and Grooveshark-lite for a lesser time. Pandora, in my opinion, was the best! Really good at providing you with never ending music, and with the mood you’re currently in, with multiple stations. Sadly, with me being in the UK, Pandora is now out of the question. Unlike Pandora, however, loads each track instantly, and works in the UK. Point to Spotify.
Grooveshark-lite is.. ok, but its not amazing at guessing what you want to listen to next, and the database of tracks was user submitted in the early stages, and so, both incomplete, messy, and some poor quality. Spotify however, is using its own files, with consistent quality, correct track names, and all the album art so far.
LastFM, probably the bigger of the three, is big! LastFM has lots of tracks, lots of users, lots of data, and provides a good amount of quality tracks! Both Pandora and LastFM don’t allow you to specifically listen to any track at will. With LastFM, you can listen to some tracks, but not all. LastFM DOES have a desktop application, however to my mind, it always looks a bit thrown together, like they just said, “ohhh errrm, yeah, go make something for desktop”. Spotify was designed, carefully, over time, for desktop use.
Slim-lined, lightweight, designed with users in mind. The best way to develop software. One BIG thing I haven’t talked about yet, which really is a REVOLUTION in music players. Quick sharing of music has NEVER been out there, until now! Dragging nearly any element in Spotify, like the track, artist, album, playlist, search results, to a chat window, will create a Spotify-formed hyperlink, which will call Spotify, and tell it to open at the relevant item. It’s fast, it’s instant, it’s awesome! Then your friend can start playing the track instantly, with no buffering. Now that’s clever.
Finally, if you like, why not scrob to LastFM while you’re here? Sure thing, says Spotify. Personally I like this neat feature. You can also select to play a “station” of an artist, much like on LastFM. It seems to be quite good, although I’m not sure if it’s as good as LastFM’s database of similar tracks.
Conclusion : Revolutionary way to share music with people, and also a fantastic way to quickly find out if you like that new album you had your eye on. Fast, simple to use, no buffer time, few adverts for free account, good music quality, simply put, brilliant. I wouldn’t be surprised if Spotify spreads like wildfire across the UK faster than any other media player has to date.
Have you used Spotify yet? What’s your first impressions? Got something to say that I missed? Use something else you think is better? Let me know, via comments below.