What I want to see in Spotify

As you know, I am a big big fan of Spotify. Lately I’ve been playing with the Last.FM integration. It’s a handy way for me to see what new music or artists I might like to listen to. I’ve discovered plenty of new music that way, it’s great.

What I would like is to be able to ask Spotify (or Last.FM) for a ‘radio’ station which plays music that I might like to hear. This feature exists but it doesn’t suit me because it would jump from a raucous rock piece to a quiet jazz piece to a strange folk piece. Generally I play music based on a general mood I am in or want. Quiet Jazz in the morning and upbeat stuff (load) when I am washing dishes. You get the idea.

If you work for Spotify, what do you think?

I don’t ‘get’ iTunes match

What I don’t get is the price. First I had to have bought the music (from Apple or someone else) and now I have to pay again ($24.95 per year) in order to make it all available over iCloud.  I think I will stick with my new favorite, Spotify.

I am sure I don’t fully understand the details, but it seems to me that the essential benefit that the new iTunes provide is that I can access my whole music collection (as far as it is ‘legal’) from any device attached to iCloud. Anything else?

Well, I think the very idea of ‘owning’ a music collection is antiquated. I mean it’s evidently inefficient that millions of people have a copy of the same bits that form “Let It Be” on each of their computers.

iCloud solves this, in one way. I have to buy the ‘Let it Be’ bits, persuade iCloud of that fact, and iCloud will let me access their copy of the same bits, from any device that I connect to iCloud. Ok.

Spotify (and other services like Rhapsody) solve this differently. They buy the bits and let me rent them for a tiny amount of money, $9.95 per month. Depending on how much new music I listen to this is more or less expensive than the combination of buying the song and paying iCloud to host it.

But the advantage is that the music I don’t listen to anymore doesn’t keep taking up room on my computer. And new music that becomes available is immediately available to be under the same subscription fee.

Here’s an article on ZDNet Asia, “iTunes Match: A solution for a problem that Apple helped create” , that is I agree with.

Update on Spotify II

I have become a total Spotify addict. I have almost totally stopped downloading MP3s and am gradually locating all my favorite music on Spotify. I posed a couple of semi-sceptical notes when I first started using Spotify and so I am due for an update, right?

So what has happened since? I find that I am using Spotify on my iPhone and on my computer, all the time. Occasionally I will dip back into my large iTunes collection to remind me of artists that I want to listen to. But I promptly go onto Spotify, and search for the artist and grab all their albums not just the one or two I had in iTunes.

It turns out that for me, not ‘owning’ the mp3s is not a big deal at all. I am almost always online when I am playing music, either on a computer or an iPhone. And when I am not actually online (on a plane for example) it is easy to make selected play lists available on my iPhone as long as I thought of it ahead of time.

Comparing it to Rhapsody, they are very similar services. They cost the same and seem to have similar sized catalogs. At least, most of the music I want I can find on either one. Still somehow I found that I am using Spotify much more often than I used Rhapsody. Rhapsody does not have a ‘real’ mac application so you have to have it running in a browser window which can be a nuisance.  Also the Spotify UI experience is a little more streamlined (although it misses some really important features that Rhapsody has.)

Comparing it to Pandora, the clear difference is that on Spotify you can play the specific album and/or track you want, over and over again if you want. On Pandora you can just ask for music that ‘sounds like’ another track. And while it does a decent job, you often want to listen specifically to Madeleine Peyroux and no one else.

Comparing it to iTunes, the clear difference is that I don’t own any music. And if tomorrow Spotify goes out of business or I decide to stop subscribing, my whole ‘collection’ disappears. What I own is the list of music that I like, and presumably I would be able to move the list over to the next service. Also I am constantly discovering new music and so my iTunes collection has lots of stuff that I don’t listen to anymore. On the other hand, lots of stuff, like NPR interviews, Technical podcasts, lecture series and other material is only available as mp3 and so I will keep using iTunes for that, I am sure.

What about the new integration with Facebook? Not sure yet. What music I listen to is no secret. But it is a little weird that people in my network can watch my listening habits, play by play as it were, and I listen to a lot of music. As soon as I wake up the music goes on.

Anyway, all in all, Spotify is great and is now my primary music service.

Update about Spotify

So I have now been using Spotify for about a week after sumarily deserting Rhapsody (no stickyness at all!) Here’s my summary:

Pro Spotify

  • Has a nice downloadable client on Mac which I can launch from the Dock
  • I seem to be discovering some new music from non-American Jazz artists. Not sure this is a credit to Spotify or just luck

Neutral

  • Exactly the same price
  • Apparently equally large catalogs

Against Spotify

  • Relies purely on an obscure search syntax (e.g. “genre:”Piano Jazz”) to search genres
  • Does not have ratings based on genres – i.e. top downloads or new this week in Classical.
  • Has a confusing relationship with iTunes. Why does it offer me to ‘download’ my iTunes and make it available ‘offline’? iTunes already does this on iPhone
  • No way to know what ‘genres’ it actually knows about beyond the obvious: “Classical” and so on. Is there “Singer Songwriter”? Is there “New Orleans Jazz”? No idea.

Jury is still out for me…


Spotify – genres?

Ok a few hours into it, I’ve located what looks like a major weakness in Spotify. One of the fun things about Rhapsody is discovering new music. What are the top albums in “Piano Jazz”. Had to look and look for a similar feature in Spotify. The closest I can find is to type this into the search box:

genre:”piano jazz”

Oy! And by the way, how am I supposed to know that “piano jazz” is a legitimate genre? Oh just look on this list.

Whoops. Piano Jazz is not a real genre, so it doesn’t work.

Any one know any tips?

Cancelled Rhapsody, Trying Spotify

As I said in the previous post, I am a bit of a promiscuous signer upper. From a cursory look, Rhapsody and Spotify are fairly similar. They both charge $10 per month for unlimited listening to all kinds of music. I saw a few blog posts that took one side or the other.

With all the geek news about spotify, one would like to know more. So, I capriciously cancelled my Rhapsody and am now trying the new thing.

That’s a problem they both have. No stickiness whatsoever. I know that for example the Sonos product supports Rhapsody. If I had spent $1000’s of dollars on a Sonos set up (like friends of mine have) AND Sonos didn’t support Spotify, then I might think twice. But here, it’s just another bit of software to set up and play with.

I will report back!