Thoughts on Spotify

Note: Originally posted on someone else’s Google+ post, but figured I’d cross post it here, since hey, I have a blog that needs content, and this way I can link to it on Facebook

Background: I’ve used Grooveshark for around a year now, and have been paying for VIP since September. I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with disappearing songs from my playlists and the unavailability of “key” songs like Rolling in the Deep. Grooveshark’s “host music until we receive a DMCA” model stops working when record companies start caring and start DMCAing.

I splurged last night on the Unlimited ($5) subscription and spent 4-5 hours setting up my entire “collection” on Spotify. It’s great. All the music is “legit”, ie actually licensed as opposed to Grooveshark’s mostly illegal model. A couple albums are missing here and there, namely all of Arcade Fire, and Daft Punk’s Discovery, but they had just abut everything else I wanted available, including many “rare” Muse B-sides, “indie” artists, and random dance remixes of stuff. It automatically scans your hard drive for music files and adds them to your library, which is AWESOME, and perfect for someone who doesn’t want to abandon their extensive catalog, or if you have super rare stuff that the Spotify catalog doesn’t have, or if you like The Beatles. Unfortunately it doesn’t like my WMA lossless files (probably not FLAC either), but I have most of them transcoded to v0 VBR on a separate hard drive which I’ll move around and import eventually.

Sound quality is 160 kbps Ogg Vorbis at the free and Unlimited level, 320kbps at Premium ($10 a month). It sounds fine (on RPI TV’s stereo monitors), much better than Grooveshark. Albums do NOT play back gaplessly. I do prefer Grooveshark’s “now playing” bar, but Spotify does allow you to queue things on-demand with a simple right-click -> Queue. It also shows the list of upcoming shuffled songs, which is a wonderful feature Grooveshark neglected. However, it doesn’t shuffle “queued” songs, only songs from whatever source you’re “playing from”. Additionally, you’re only able to reorder songs you’ve queued, so if you’re playing from a playlist you can’t reorder the songs in your “play queue”, like you can in Grooveshark. The workaround is to queue the whole playlist instead of playing from the playlist, but that’s slightly awkward and counter-intuitive, and then you can’t shuffle. So, some improvements to be made to the Now Playing interface.

Social networking integration, blah blah, I see Jeff in my right panel. It’s missing a “music discovery” tool like Grooveshark’s Radio, but I suppose there are enough other tools out there to help with that (Grooveshark mostly suggests garbage anyway).

I’m already considering upgrading to the $10 a month plan, namely for the mobile app. 320kbps and offline support would be nice too, but I’d be mostly paying for the mobile app.

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