Spotify – all you can eat music wherever you go [App of the Week]
What is Spotify?
Spotify is a music service. Instead of buying music outright you pay a subscription to access Spotify’s 18 million song library, though Mac and PC users can access it free with adverts and restrictions.
There are numerous mobile apps, including iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phones, Symbian phones and Windows Phone – Spotify recently released an iPad app, as well. All the mobile apps require a Premium subscription to use properly, which costs £9.99 per month.
You can read our guide to Spotify for a more in-depth explanation of the service.
5 reasons to try Spotify
- (Almost) anything you can think of is just a search away
This is the main selling point of the service and the apps. Instead of buying music, you can simply search for what you want, stream it to your device, or (if you’re a Premium subscriber) download it so you can listen to it offline. It is, in effect, all-you-can-eat music. It’s particularly good for finding music you want to listen to but wouldn’t ordinarily buy.
- Music fanatics will save money
If you’re in the habit of buying two or three albums every month, it won’t take long to recoup even the £9.99 monthly fee for the Premium subscription. Most new albums cost around £8 and even older ones can be as much as £5. With Spotify you can have a band’s latest album, and their back catalogue, in an instant for no extra cost.
- You’ll discover more new music
Spotify’s second most useful trait is its social dimension. It’s tightly integrated with Facebook – music you listen to appears in your feed so others can see and share recommendations. But you don’t have to use Facebook to find new stuff – there are numerous built-in apps for finding music to try.
- It works with your existing music library
It’s inevitable that you have music you already own and that’s okay – Spotify imports that music into your Spotify library, listing them alongside tracks from Spotify. It even syncs with smartphones and MP3 players, including the iPhone and iPad.
- It’s fast
Thanks to some clever technology, streaming music on Spotify is just like listening to your own music stored on your PC. Even a modest broadband connection, around 2 to 3Mpbs, should work just fine.
Andy’s impressions of Spotify
Spotify isn’t new to me – I’ve used it on and off for a few years but it’s never quite convinced me. However, with the launch of the iPad app last week, I thought I’d give it another go.
Starting with the iPad app – it’s great. It’s intuitive to use and makes good use of the iPad’s large screen. I particularly like the full-screen mode, which leaves you with just the playback controls and the album art of what’s playing – it lets you skip tracks simply by swiping up and down. AirPlay support is critical, too, as it lets you use the iPad as a jukebox to queue up music to listen to and send it to your stereo over wi-fi – provided said stereo is AirPlay compatible as well, of course. The only disappointment with the iPad app is it lacks the extra apps that help you find new music – the apps are exclusive to the desktop version.
The mobile phone app (I used the iPhone version) is competent, although not quite as intuitive to use. Ironically, it’s the desktop app (the oldest of them all) that’s the biggest let down. Once you install some of the third party apps and create a few playlists, the sidebar on the left becomes incredibly long and crowded. More often than not I have to resort to searching for what I want – sometimes it’s nice just to browse.
But my main problem with Spotify is that, while it supports syncing your own music to the mobile apps, it does so grudgingly. It’s inflexible – either you sync everything you have, or you must set up playlists for everything even if it’s already in your library. Spotify is obsessed with playlists, but it’s a clumsy way of organising large amounts of music – especially if, like me, you like to listen to albums rather than ‘collections’ of tracks.
Spotify is a great way to find and enjoy new music, but it’s got a little way to go to convert me into a paying customer.
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