I love music. In the late 80’s, I quickly adopted the Compact Disc and in the 90’s, I jumped on the digital music bandwagon, burning CDs as needed for non-computer listening. Once the iPod hit the scene, my need for CDs soon faded and I could take thousands of songs on the go. As of late, my iPhone serves as my iPod, but with the advent of Pandora, no longer was I limited by my own music library. Other music services have tried to surpass the functionality and ease of Pandora, and now there seems to be a skilled challenger to the title of Internet music king: Spotify. (https://www.spotify.com)
Spotify isn’t a new service, having originated in Sweden back in 2008. It grew into the UK and has had a huge following in Europe since, but now, Spotify has hit our shores here in the US. Spotify’s tagline is “all the music, all the time” and it has 15 million tracks to back this claim, with 10,000 more tracks per day being added. The service has signed up a lion’s share of the major record labels to have their artists and music available to Spotify users, so there’s a good chance that the song you want to hear will be available. If not, Spotify can also pull tracks from your own music library in iTunes or off of your hard drive; all your music is then accessible in one place through the Spotify player. The Spotify player is available for Windows or Mac, and they have a Linux version in beta. The features I mention here are available on the free version of Spotify, but there’s one catch: currently, you need an invitation to join Spotify. Or course, if you want to subscribe to one of the paid versions, you can jump right in.
There are two different levels of paid versions for Spotify subscribers: Unlimited and Premium. Unlimited gives you all the features of Free but it eliminates the advertisements and it costs $4.99 per month. Premium costs $9.99 per month but really ups the ante. Music is streamed at a higher bit rate for a better sound, you can use Spotify on your mobile phone or your music systems, you can play your local content (the music on your computer) remotely, and you can listen to music offline. The last feature I mentioned it particularly neat in that you can select playlists to synchronize with your device so that even with no Internet, you can still listen to your selected tunes on your mobile or your computer. This can come in handy especially if you have a limit on your bandwidth for your phone.
Given that the Premium subscription is almost $10 per month, I’m going to wait a little while before I commit to that level of Spotify. My experience with the free version on my computers has been enjoyable, but when I can use Pandora on my computers, my phone, and on my home stereo for free, Spotify can’t beat that. For people that demand to hear specific tracks when they absolutely have to, then Spotify is a bargain compared to buying songs or albums online.