Today I am continuing my roundup of online music services and focusing on the behemoth that is Spotify.
With over 24 million active users worldwide (6 million of these paying customers), it is certainly one of the largest music streaming services with a catalog to match- providing access to around 20 million songs. Users can explore this seemingly endless musical database by artist, track title, label and genre. Searching by terms will also yield results that include other users’ playlists, which I have utilised in the past to enjoy instant theme-based and often quirky playlists (eg. Halloween, Christmas).
Decidedly social in nature, Spotify can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter accounts and users can post tracks, playlists and summaries of music that they are current enjoying to their feeds.
When I first started using Spotify, it was primarily to listen to latest releases- albums that had just hit the shelves which I hadn’t yet had the chance to hear- to ascertain whether they were worthy of purchase. It would seem I’m not the only one who uses Spotify for this purpose… When Daft Punk released the first single from their much-anticipated new album, RAM, a week or so back, it became the most played track of any song in a single day on Spotify.
I soon discovered that there was a whole lot more to love about this service. One of my favourite features is the ability to build and share playlists and integrate them almost anywhere (on blogs- such as I have done in past posts, websites, emails, social media and so on). You can choose to follow your friend’s, favourite artist’s or random individual’s playlists, which are subsequently updated when the playlist creator makes additions or changes.
Then there is the app finder which can be accessed via the desktop client. These are 3rd party applications which help you discover new music and provide access to other musical content such as lyrics, band bios and heaps more. Whilst these have been a bit hit and miss for me, they are still fun to explore during moments lacking in musical inspiration. My faves are the Any Decent Music, Rolling Stone Recommends and triple-j apps.
There is also a Radio app which will create a radio station based on an artist or genre selection. Personally, I prefer to use Pandora for this function, which I find always comes up trumps in its uncanny ability to play exactly what I want to hear.
If there is one area where I think Spotify could improve, it would be in personalising the user interface based on past music selections, and offering suggestions of new or alternate music/playlists/apps based on past user behaviour and choices.
Spotify is available for free from your desktop. The free version is laden with ads and limited to 10 hours playback per month. For $7/month you can get rid of the ads and the playback restriction, but if you’re going to pay that much, I would suggest biting the bullet and going for the premium service ($12/month) which adds extra benefits of mobile access and caching of playlists for offline listening. New users can enjoy a 30-day free trial period to test out the features of the premium service.
If you are after a music service that offers an abundance of musical choice, social networking functionality and iTunes style of interface (including ability to integrate your iTunes library), then you ought check out Spotify.
Are you a Spotify user? What do you think about it?