You may have heard of a new music streaming service currently making headlines around the various technology blogs on the Web. Its name is Spotify and it’s being touted as the latest and greatest thing to happen to the music industry and music lovers since the Internet came along. Is that an accurate description? Read my review below to find out.
I must admit to being a bit late coming to the Spotify party. It’s only now that invites to the free-to-use advertising-supported beta are doing the rounds that I’ve taken an interest. In that way, it’s a bit like Joost: not worth getting excited about until you can sample it for yourself. While Joost didn’t live up to the hype, Spotify does.
Spotify is basically a music streaming service to beat all others. It has three levels of use, free with adverts, a day pass ($1.45), and a monthly pass $12). It is currently only available in European countries such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. That is at least officially but there’s nothing a good proxy server can’t solve.
TorrentFreak recently wrote an article about the service and still has some invites available. However, a poster on Digg claims to have found a workaround that will allow anyone in to sample the service for free and without restriction.
The download is small, and the app is fast to load. There’s no fuss, no lengthy introduction, and no messing around before you can start playing the songs you love. The library of content on offer is huge, with all of the major record labels on board as well as some independents.
Spotify is very easy to use, with everything laid out iTunes-style with the user in mind. It’s not cluttered or busy, with simple and easy to read lists of songs to choose from. Double click on any song and it immediately starts playing in high quality with no delay or stuttering. It’s as if the song is being played direct from your hard drive.
The search function works superbly, listing the results in order of relevance. A click on the Track, Artist, Album, Popularity, or Time tabs sorts the songs into a more manageable order. Right clicking on any track gives you the opportunity to add it to a playlist, queue it up, or even share it with friends via a URL or a URI.
There is also a Pandora-style radio service built-in, which is brilliant for me seeing as how Pandora pulled out of the UK last year. Genres and decades can be added to the mix so you can either have a very fine-tuned station or an eclectic mix covering a wide range of music loves.
Despite the huge library of songs on offer, there are a few important artists missing or not fully offered. The Beatles are a no-show, and most of the Metallica songs are covers. This may be because I’m in the UK and when the service launches in other territories this problem could go away. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida was also unavailable despite being listed in the Top Ten tracks.
Apart from that, the only bad things about Spotify are just minor bugbears I’ve noticed after 24 hours of using the service. When you log out, you lose whatever is in your Queue. You can’t choose multiple decades on the radio service. And that’s about it. Very minor issues that wouldn’t take much effort to cure.
Spotify is very, very accomplished and could be huge if given a chance to by the music industry. It’s all legal, all paid for, and 99 percent brilliant. It won’t kill piracy off because people will still want to own an album rather than stream it but it could go a long way to solving an issue that has been present since the Internet became mainstream.
I’m addicted to the service, having spent all day building playlists, playing my favorite tunes, seeking out long-unheard classics, and discovering new artists on the radio. If Spotify can launch worldwide in the next year or so and build its advertisers along with its users, it could be absolutely huge.