Ever since stumbling upon an article discussing Spotify on the Mercury blog End Hits, I have been obsessively compiling playlists and searching for new music on Spotify like a kid in a candy store. It is currently invite only, but I received my invite within a week of the service launching in the U.S. If you don't want to wait for an invite, you can purchase their premium package for only $4.99 a month. Like any new service, it is imperfect, but what it does offer is well worth it. The cost of the service is free with advertisements for six months, $4.99 for the premium package with no ads and $9.99 for the mobile version which allows you to access your entire I-tunes library as well as a massive archive of over 15 million tracks from Spotify. While they don't have everything on Spotify, they are adding over a hundred tracks a day. I was surprised that the sound quality is as good as it is for most albums, with only a few things that were under par. So far, I have been using the service for free, and this has generally served my purpose.
My assessment of Spotify Vs. Pandora is that they offer two very different services to the customer. Pandora is, as far as I can tell, the only service that has the technology to let you choose attributes from a specific song and then generate a playlist based on that song. This feature is great for compiling a mixtape with a certain mood, although Pandora only lets you skip 4 songs in an hour. Once you pass this amount, you are stuck listening to whatever songs they play. I often find myself getting frustrated and turning it off after about a half hour. Also, the pay version of Pandora gets rid of the ads, but you still have the limitation of only being able to skip 4 songs in an hour. These ads usually play every 3-4 songs, and are not related to music at all, so it kind of takes you out of your musical listening experience.
Spotify has the ability to play the entire album and queue up the tracks as if you are playing them from your collection in Itunes, while it is not possible to play the specific track that you want to hear in Pandora. Another interesting feature of Spotify is that you can easily share the playlists that you have created in Spotify with your friends on Facebook. I haven't opted to share my playlists yet, as I am still evaluating the service, but I imagine that I will enjoy this feature once I do start sharing my playlists with others.
There have been some albums that I have been unable to find on the internet and on Soulseek, but I was able to locate these on Spotify. I had been looking for a hip-hop record from 2009 called Ill Mondo featuring Neal Rames. After searching on Google and Soulseek to no avail, I found it on Spotify in really excellent sound quality. I can definitely see the benefit of using a service like this especially for finding new music, and it would be really useful for listening to an album without having to download it to see if you like it. The main downfall I can see with Spotify is that if the service goes under you will lose all your music.
I found it very useful when trying to check out a bunch of songs for a themed-mix tape that I have been working on lately. In the past, I would have gone to Soulseek and downloaded all of the songs, only to find that a couple really fit the mix. Also, I had fun doing label searches for indie labels like Merge, Teenbeat, Tzadik, Matador and Fat Possum. Once you type in label followed by a colon and then the the label name, it brings up the entire library for that label that is currently available on Spotify. Therefore it should be used in addition to the other myriad methods of finding and purchasing music.
Overall, I have really been digging Spotify, and wanted to let you all know about it. While it is definitely not a substitute for rare music blogs, it does provide music listeners with a vast archive of music to choose from.
Here is a list of awesome sites to get the most out of Spotify:
The main homepage for Spotify featuring many useful tips and tricks that will put you well on your way to fully enjoying the service
Spotibot- http://spotibot.com/- allows you to type in an artist's name and then it generates a playlist based on this artist
Essential Spotify Tools- http://lifehacker.com/5821396/the-essential-spotify-tools
List of tools that you can use to enhance your Spotify experience
Share My Playlist- http://sharemyplaylists.com/
A massive archive of the top playlists on Spotify
Spotify links based on recommendations and recent reviews from Pitchfork, Boomkat and Discogs
Seemingly endless archive of new releases on Spotify with a focus on indie, experimental and folk music
Pansentient League- New On Spotify- http://pansentient.com/new-on-spotify/
A great way to find new releases on Spotify as there is currently no way to do a search for recent things added to Spotify
Spotify Labels- http://alf.hubmed.org/spotify/labels.php
A clickable list of every label available on Spotify that automatically generates a playlist of every song on the label
This should get you well on your way to enjoying the benefits of Spotify!
I will be back soon with a new Choice Cuts post as well as a new podcast.
Addendum: If anyone would like an invite to Spotify, I can hook you up. Just comment here and let me know that you are interested.