I find it surprising that no-one has yet stepped up to the plate to post a review of the magic that is Spotify here on MakeTechEasier. This application has truly revolutionized the way that I consume music, and I only see things getting better. For anyone who has been living under a rock, Spotify is a music application that lets you stream any music on-demand from their impressive catalogue of more than 15 million tracks. It runs happily on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
Raise your hand (or mash your keyboard) if you pirate music. I thought so. How do you feel about it? Indifferent? A little guilty? Uncomfortable? Well, with Spotify, you get the choice of a free account or a paid one, so if for some reasons, you object to paying $5/month for the best music application since Napster, then there’s still something in it for you.
There are 3 plans available on Spotify – Free, Unlimited and Premium. The main differences between these three accounts is that the free account subjects you to the occasional ad, the Unlimited account has no advertising, and the Premium account lets you download up to 3,333 tracks to your computer and/or mobile device so you can carry them around with you. The sound quality on the Premium account is also higher (320kbps ogg versus 160kbps ogg). I’m personally on an Unlimited account, and it sounds great so I’m not sure how much benefit there is sound-wise unless you’re running it through an amazing home theatre setup. Keep in mind that Spotify is currently limited to people in Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom or the United States. For the paid accounts, there is no need to use a VPN to access Spotify outside these countries – you just need to make sure you can pay with a credit card or Paypal account registered in these countries. There are also many people selling US gift cards for Spotify on Ebay.
Spotify’s main interface is very much an iTunes clone, but prettier. You run searches from the top left search box, and browse your results in the main window on the right. Double clicking a track starts it playing almost instantly, and you can jump through the track as if you were listening to a downloaded file. Clicking on an Artist’s name will bring up a list of everything Spotify has on that artist, as well as some artist information. Up the top there are tabs for Biography, Related Artists and Artist Radio. The biographies tend to be quite good, and the related artists section is very useful for discovering music similar to things you already like. Artist radio just plays a selection of related artists at random.
You can create queues in Spotify, much as you would in iTunes. If you have an artist’s page open, just right-click on the name of an album and click “Add to…” then “New Playlist”, and a new playlist will be created on the left. What I tend to do is create an initial playlist, then browse related artists, queuing additional albums until I build up a decent list of interesting and varied music.
There are a couple of issues with Spotify. Firstly, not all music is correctly categorised under the right artist – especially if the track was produced by a couple of different artists. As far as music that’s not available on there, the only thing I was not able to find was the genuine soundtrack to the Blues Brothers. There were many “tributes”, but not the real deal unfortunately. However, like I said – that was the only album I couldn’t find.
All in all, the service is really quite good. If you’re tired of playing around with torrents, feel guilty for downloading pirated music, or just want easy access to music, Spotify’s well worth a try!
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