Spotify Free – Review

I am a person who has a large collection of both CD’s and digital music, so when I heard about the new form of listening to music digitally, being able to stream songs over an Internet connection, I quickly decided to see just how great it might be.  Since I have started using it last month, my current favorite streaming service is Spotify. There are other streaming music services that I have tried namely, Pandora, Grooveshark and the free 7 day trial of Rdio.  I have also uploaded some of my digital songs to Google Music and Amazon’s cloud storage service.

Pandora, one of the first streaming music services available, allows users to create playlists based on their favorite artists or songs.  Once this has been done, Pandora will then populate the playlists using their music catalogue.  The user is allowed to skip up to six Pandora chosen songs per hour.  Also,audio advertisements are played at the end of a string of songs.  Of course there is a paid version which takes away the skip limit and ads.  If you use a smartphone, there are apps for Android and iOS as well as a mobile version of the website.

Grooveshark is a different sort of streaming music website. It is user driven, meaning that users can search for and upload their own music.  Since music is being uploaded by other users, I am not too sure how legal this is, but the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has yet to shut it down like it did to the similar site Seeqpod.

Rdio is very similar to Spotify, except that its free version is only a 7 day trial.  Also, it might have a different record label deal, so the music it has could differ from Spotify. There is a web version as well as Apps for various Smartphone OS’s.

Amazon cloud storage and Google Music are completely different sorts of streaming services.  Instead of getting deals with the record labels to stream their catalogues, Amazon and Google decided to let users upload their existing music collections to the cloud so they could play songs on any computer or smartphone that has an Internet collection.  Amazon gives users 5 GB of free storage to upload not only music, but photos, documents and videos. Google on the other hand let’s users upload 20,000 songs for free.

Those services are great in there own respects, but I was eager to try out the new service that had just become available in the United States on July 14th, after having been accessible to Europeans since October 2008, this service is Spotify.  There are three levels of service for this streaming music platform.  You can be cheap like me, get the free ad supported version, pay $4.99 a month and have unlimited ad-free music listening using the desktop client or pay $9.99 per month to have this access on your smart phone as well .  I have only tried the free, ad supported desktop client. To get a Spotify invite can need to be sent one by someone who is using one of the paid versions of the service.

I was eager to try this service as soon as I got my elusive invite.  My goal was to see if I would be able to find music from my favorite artists and genres that the music that had been licensed from the major record labels, Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal as well as many other indie labels.  As I began searching around for certain artists, I discovered just how vast the licensing deals had been to get this large catalogue of music.

Of course with every thing there are the aspects that take the fun, enjoyment, ease of use and convince out of using the service.  There are two main issues I have with the service, but one of them is to be mostly forgiven since I am using the free ad-supported version.

The first semi-gripe is that when searching for music, there were some artists and albums I was unable to find.  These artists are ones that are on small indie labels and it’s to be expected that they might not be included in the record label deals.  Another, is that there are several movie soundtracks that I would like to listen to that are missing. It’s still amazing what they do have, but when I searched for an artist such as Hall & Oats, they only had their early albums and not their most popular stuff.  The second issue is that there are ads that play at unwanted times after a song has just finished.  These can range from spots for the paid version of the service to plugs for other artists.

The worst is when you just finished listening to a great song and then an ad starts playing which is a portion of a song from an artist that you would never ever associate with the styles and genres of music you like and are currently listening to. All you can do is lower the volume. The ad has to completely finish before you can listen to the next song.  As I was reading about the service in Europe before it came to the USA,I found out that instead of ads, these folks were only allowed a maximum number of plays per song in a single month.  I am glad that is not the case with the free version here in the US.

After having used the service since mid July, at the free level, I am more than satisfied with what I am getting in return.  To me this is leaps and bounds over what I have previously tried.  Just don’t expect Spotify to have every song ever recorded in the last 150 years, but what it was able to license from the record labels is impressive.  I suggest checking out the free version where you can sample different music before you decide to by it through itunes or on CD, exposing yourself to artists you might never have ever listened to before.  Other than those small nitpicks, I would fully recommend Spotify to any music lover wanting to find new music or just looking to listen to vast amount of music they wish they could own.