At first glance, Spotify sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, there’s no way around it right now: It is. That’s not to say that it isn’t useful; Spotify gives the user access to millions of tracks, and allows for sharing with other friends who also use the service. Essentially, you could send your friend a “Longboarding playlist” on Spotify instead of burning him or her a physical CD on your iTunes. You can also listen to your library anywhere, be it on your computer, phone, or… what are the other choices we have, again?
Anyway, I’ve taken the liberty of breaking down every feature of Spotify for you. You’re welcome.
Okay, so nothing new here, right? I can do this on my iTunes, and this isn’t anything special. Of course, my dissatisfaction with this feature stems from the fact that the music “library” isn’t as deep as I’d hoped. The first album I searched for (De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising) doesn’t even exist, and many of the others I looked for couldn’t be accessed, either because the tracks are “not available in the United States” or because “the artist/label has chosen to make this track unavailable.”
The main issue is that most major labels are not exactly cool with streaming all of their music for free, which was why it’s taken Spotify so long to get its feet planted in the States after such huge success overseas.
To me, this feature is slightly overrated. I can share music easily by pasting a YouTube link on my friend’s Facebook wall or by pointing them to a website. The other issue is: how often do people share music tracks instead of videos? Once every two weeks, maybe? Sure, this makes it easier to do, but how many of your Facebook friends will take advantage of it?
This is a nice feature: You can take millions of songs with you on your phone without taking up any of your memory space. Everything that you can access on your computer is available on your handheld.
SEARCHING FOR MUSIC
As stated in the “Playlists” section, the music pool is much larger than anything you could collect, but it still has a lot of holes. After the failed De La Soul attempt, I searched “Foo Fighters”, and the band’s entire discography came up. Some albums were completely playable, while others were not. In other words, don’t get your hopes up; you might find what you’re looking for, but you might not.
This just keeps track of how popular tracks are, exactly like iTunes’ song popularity meters. You can also make your own top lists. Nothing much to see here.
OFFLINE MODE (Premium Users Only)
This feature allows you to play the Spotify library without an Internet connection, for the price of a Premium membership ($9.99 a month).
Doesn’t it bug you that your iTunes library is locked into your computer, and your computer only? Spotify hit the nail on the head with this feature, allowing users to log in with a user name and password on any computer, opening a portal into your personal library.
Just a place to hold your playlists and “starred” (see: favorite) songs. There’s not a lot of customization, but it takes all of the mp3s from your iTunes and elsewhere and combines them with the general Spotify song pool.
Spotify seems to pride itself on the fact that it provides artist biographies. Reading through Dr. Dre’s stunted bio, which ends in the year 1999, told me enough: I’m better off looking up an artist on Wikipedia or Allmusic for lengthy information.
Another basic feature that is included in just about every other music application. If you’re listening to a Beastie Boys song, it’ll recommend Rage Against the Machine. Pandora and Last.fm probably have better, similar programs.
CONNECT WITH FACEBOOK
When you boot up Spotify, a list of your Facebook friends immediately pops up on the right-hand side. In my personal case, only six of my 700+ online buddies have wandered over to the program thus far. Like Google+, it’ll be cooler when/if everyone ends up using it.
AROUND THE HOUSE (Premium Users Only)
Another $9.99 feature, “Around the House” allows you to listen to your Spotify library on non-computer devices which are hard to announce and look pretty expensive. Unless you’re a big speaker junkie, this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but if you own an “Onkyo home cinema receiver”, this would be pretty cool.
Well, that’s it. Spotify is a nice product, but it won’t reach its full potential until all of the major labels and artists give way and load their entire discographies onto the service. For now, I’m sticking with my iTunes library, Last.fm and Pandora. I’ll revisit Spotify when some new ground is broken in the United States.