Posted by: rubberhawk | April 6, 2009

Spotify – Online Music Round Two

In round One, I discussed an online service called Deezer which allowed you to stream music from the site through your browser at your leisure. Recently, I found another service called Spotify that aims for the same market but does so in a very different way. Rather than using the site directly to stream music through the browser, Spotify works by letting the user download a client program onto their machine and then streaming music through that. The program itself looks very similar to iTunes and has much in common. The service comes in three versions, the first is premium where for €9.99 a month you get unlimited ad-free access, the second is a similar day pass which costs 99c and the third is the free option, which is ad-supported. For a fair comparison (and because I’m a cheapskate), I tried out the free version.

The first thing that struck me about Spotify was the music catalogue. It has almost everything you could want. Because it is a legal service though, the usual suspects aren’t available or are very scarce. Artists like the Beatles and Metallica are missing but there is always an alternative to listen to. The catalogue is easily a lot better than Deezer which has always been plagued by legal issues. The second thing that struck me was the speed. Tracks play just as responsively as if they were local files and the search/browsing features are quick and easy to use. you can go from clicking on the program icon to listening to your favorite song in under 30 seconds without a problem.

Spotify also build on its own design and resources to offer  further services in the form of providing biographies for artists, spotify URLs and artist radio. Spotify URLs can exist for any song/album/artist and can be shared just as freely as any other hyperlink on the web. Links in the biographies also take you to other artists and albums. Artist radio is a simple concept of playlists automatically generated based on a single artist and who other users have been listening  to. All this means it is very easy to browse, share and discover new music without getting lost in a list of bands you’ve never heard of. As for the advertising they put in? Well I haven’t heard any yet, but that may be a bug due to where I’m accessing the service from(Spotify Free is not strictly available in Ireland). Comments/ Blogs I’ve read elsewhere indicate that its not too intrusive.

The service is smooth, sleek and well thought out and is still only in beta testing. This is certainly a promising start-up in the world of internet music services and with rumours of an API in development, it looks set to expand even further.

Oh, and if you’re curious as to what I’m listening to: http://open.spotify.com/album/0G1t4uPgOGjvH9FJcEjXRb.

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