Jul 192011
 
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Less than a week ago I received my invite to Spotify and within 2 hours of testing the service I purchased the premium package for $9.99 per month.  This is my review of Spotify Premium and why I truly believe it will help revolutionize the way we store, share and listen to music.

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What is Spotify

Spotify is a music streaming service that also functions as a multi platform cloud where you can share and store music from your local libraries as well as purchase music to add to your digital libraries.  Spotify gives you access to millions of songs online and you can play them immediately without any strings attached with the free service.

(Note, the free service is still in invite only and you can scroll down to the bottom of this post to enter the contest to get an invite).

Why Use Spotify

Spotify is probably the best application to help combat the issue of music torrenting because you simply subscribe and have unlimited access to all the music you want for a low monthly fee.  The library includes just about everything I could find including all the latest top charts and old classics like I was able to find just about everything from the Blue Oyster Cult on the Spotify catalog.

Using Spotify

After installing and using the Spotify application it will browse your computer to build a list of your local files in your library.  Spotify gives you 2 search bars, one that searches everything in both the Spotify catalog and your own local library, and a second search bar that is only on your local files so you can restrict your searches to local files only.

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Spotify allows you to seamlessly build playlists that comprise of both your locally owned and online files in the same playlist.  Combine this with the ability to mark a playlist as offline with the premium service and you can build your playlists on your PC and listen to them anytime on  your Android or iPhone.

Spotifyoffline

Spotify lets you store a total of 3,333 files in offline mode before you have to release some to add more to offline mode.  This means at any time you can “borrow” 3,333 files from the online Spotify catalog and get access to them from a device that has no Wi-Fi or Internet connection provided you made sure the client loaded up Spotify to sync prior to going off the grid.

Browsing on Spotify

When using Spotify you simply search for an artist, album, song or anything and you will get results that display.  In my test search for this review I searched for “Weird Al” and was provided with a list of results that included my local and online files.

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There is a little musical note icon on the right hand column which indicates if a file is from your local library.

When you see search results you can drill into any Artist, or Album and immediately pull up all matches for that artist or album.  You can also select entire albums, or tracks and add them to a custom playlist including the ability to then mark that playlist as offline mode.

Syncing Spotify to iPod

Spotify is a streaming application so by default it expects your device to have wi-fi capability and support the Spotify app.  This means Spotify is ideally suited for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android and other smart phones and the PC itself.

Spotify does support traditional MP3 devices including the iPod Nano and non-Internet enabled iPod’s however it has some restrictions and caveats.

The first is that it requires you to “wipe” or factory restore your iPod in order to use the Spotify service with it.  This really means you can’t use your iTunes and Spotify for the same iPod device.

The second is that you can only sync playlists and files that are local in your library and/or that you have “purchased” from Spotify.  You can’t sync any offline playlists to your iPod Nano because it won’t actually put the files on your Nano.  This is to prevent song piracy and copied songs from being stripped of your Nano and re-downloaded into iTunes or some other media management program.  Offline playlists only work through a Spotify application.

Despite this limitation Spotify is a great choice for syncing to your iPod because it is lightning fast compared to iTunes when it searches your local library.  Though if you store both pictures, video’s and other files on your iPod then Spotify isn’t the service for this functionality.

Features and Wish Lists

  • Music Recommendations

I tend to find new music by people recommendations or even recommendations from the music service I am using.  I like that Pandora will try to play “similar” music based on your lists and help you find new content.  Spotify allows friends to share playlists giving them access to listen to each others files and recommendations instantly which is fantastic, but there could be more of a recommendation feature based on your previous listening patterns as well.  I think this is a feature that Spotify can use going forward.

  • Fade Volume on Pause

Spotify will abruptly stop a song or start it when you click the pause button, this is a minor annoyance but I got used to the Winamp default which fades the volume quickly so that it is less abrupt on the ears.

  • Cheaper Mobile Plan Option

Right now in order to use Spotify on your mobile device you have to purchase the Premium plan for $9.99 per month.  The $4.99 plan is for unlimited ad-free music on your PC.  Spotify should offer a happy medium package at $4.99 for maybe 500 plays per month or something from any device.  This limited use is ideal for people who only listen to music a few hours a day a couple of times a week but don’t really feel they will get their money’s worth with the $10 per month plan.  Also since all music has to be played through the Spotify app there should be no reason why they can’t track and restrict the number of plays per month.  They already track the number of plays to report to the record labels and companies.

  • No Official iPad Application

Spotify only has an iPhone app which works on the iPad but they should have a dedicated iPad applications so you can read the search results more clearly and blow them up without the blur that occurs when putting iPhone applications in 2X mode.

Update:

The contest to giveaway a Spotify account is closed, I have no more invites to giveaway but if I gain more I will open up the contest again.

-Dragon Blogger


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Justin Germino
Working in the IT Industry for over 13 years and specializing in web based technologies. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
Justin Germino
Justin Germino
  • http://trafficcoleman.com/ TrafficColeman

    Many of these sites are out there but only a few gives you the features you need.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Amy@WebCopywriting

    I, too, received the free Spotify trial (via Klout). I am trying to compare it to Napster, which I am currently using. I pay about the same amount for Napster (for PC-based and mobile access) and I am trying to determine if I should switch.

    I do not have any complaints with Napster at this point, but I am not opposed to trying something new. (I LOVE Napster compared to Pandora – too many glitches and issues there.)

    Have you tried Napster (paid) or any other music service? If so, what are your thoughts of Spotify compared to these. (Please note, I have a Droid, not an iPhone.)

    Thanks for your review.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Well, in RAW statistics Spotify claims to have 2 million more songs than Napster, and also lets you keep 3,333 offline songs which is far more than Napster allows. Napster though automatically keeps the last 100 songs available for offline play which is a great feature that it’s automatic. Spotify also integrates local music file access and online songs I don’t believe Napster does local + online music libraries and only does online.

      Spotify also offers a free account to listen to tracks online from PC and Napster has no permanent free offering, only a free trial.

      • Amy@WebCopywriting

        Thanks Justin. Good stuff! I don’t think I realized that Spotify’s PC version would stay free. Always nice. This will give me a chance to continue to test things on my end.

        Thanks for the info!

      • http://www.indihow.com/ Samir

        From what you say, I believe Spotify is clearly the better choice!

  • http://blog.clickfire.com emory @ clickfire

    I’m liking it but I don’t think it’s a grooveshark killer. I listen to a lot of classics and indie and I don’t see many songs listed yet. Hope it’s as good as they say.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Their library can definitely use some expansion in the indie music category, a search for “Fair to Midland” shows Grooveshark has more albums listed than Spotify which only has their latest.

  • http://andrewjwalsh.com/blog ajwalsh@Books, Bytes and Blogs

    Thanks for the thorough review. I’ve been hearing good things about Spotify and am excited to give it a try once I can get my hands on an invite. It really seems like you’ll get your money’s worth.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      I am still testing it each and every day, it is really enjoyable.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Congratulations you just won the free Spotify invite and I sent it out to you.

      • http://andrewjwalsh.com/blog ajwalsh@Books, Bytes and Blogs

        Great! Thanks a lot. I’m going to check it out right now.

        • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

          Let me know what you think of the service after you had some time to play with it.

  • Amy@WebCopywriting

    One thing that I like better about Napster is the feature of pre-created playlists and stations. For example, on Napster, if I am not looking for something specific, but want to hear the top songs of the summer of 2009 or the spring of 2011, I can select those playlists.

    Did I miss this feature (or something similar) on Spotify? So far, this is one of the biggest issues that I have with Spotifiy.

    Also, it looks like the free desktop-only access is limited to 20 hours per month.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      Your are very true about the playlists and finding new songs to listen to being lacking, There is only the top charts and albums and what’s new. Though the feed will show what people are playing in your Facebook friends network and Spotify updates in it.

      Spotify definitely needs to allow for more expansive playlists or at least pull billboard charts from previous years that you can build instant playlists from. It requires too much you searching for what you want to listen do, then finding it on Spotify to manually build a playlist.

      Still 20 hours per month free is a better option for sampling than Napster which has no free plan except for the trial.

      I will submit this as feature requests to the company.

  • http://sports-clips-locations.com/ Khan@supercuts

    It is one of the best online entertainment service.

  • Matt Price

    “Though if you store both pictures, video’s and other files on your iPod then Spotify isn’t the service for this functionality.” That is a HUGE problem for me and a deal-killer. To be clear – it means that if you have synced your iPod with Spotify – it will erase all of your iTunes content on your iPod – music, videos and TV shows – and replace it with your Spotify content. It further means that while in that state – you cannot watch your movies and TV shows, because doing so would require you to sync with iTunes, effectively erasing your Spotify content. That is a very big issue for lots of people I would think.

    • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

      This is the iPod Nano only, the iPod Touch does not do this. It just means that the Spotify application is not ideal if you have a regular iPod Nano. It does not need to format your iPod Touch, iPhone or any other device that can run the Spotify application.

      • Matt Price

        Well, that is a big difference. That is certainly not clear from the online documentation – they only refer to “your iPod” – without mention of a specific model (I have an iPhone). I will give it a shot. Thank you.

        • http://www.dragonblogger.com Justin Germino

          Yep, as long as it can run a Spotify app which the iPhone, iPod touch can then it won’t need to wipe the device since it will manage your playlists through the Spotify app and doesn’t need to manage your “entire device” like it does with a non-internet mp3 player that doesn’t have ability to run apps.

  • http://www.gnarld.com Israel Kendall

    I’m hooked on Spotify as well! I subscribed within a couple of hours of trying out the service too. On your comment about music recommendation, Spotify does have “Artist Radio” which will play music similar to the artist you selected. It doesn’t have the thumbs up/down option though.

    I have an article on my blog that will tell you how to get your Pandora “thumbs up” tracks from your Pandora stations into Spotify, it’s an older article though and not an option for this CommentLuv or I would link it.

    Now if only there were a movie service that ran the way Spotify does, that would be awesome!