Spotify: Initial Reactions

On Thursday, Spotify opened to the US. For those that don’t know, it’s a streaming music service that uses DRM to protect the actual files themselves, and uses advertising to cover the free service. There are paid plans that remove advertising and also let you cache songs locally for playback when not connected to the Internet. After installing it the first time, I jotted down my reactions/thoughts throughout the process:

  • You have to have an app downloaded? Spotify can’t come to work with me, which is where I do ~75% of my listening. That means Spotify can’t get into most workplaces.
  • The app is open, and I did a search for an artist, but there’s multiple results for some songs, and there’s different symbols/colors. I don’t know what they mean, and hovering over them doesn’t tell me.
  • After double-clicking a red one, it’s telling me it can’t play it because it’s protected by DRM. Apparently it’s an iTunes purchase from my local computer.
  • It appears that Spotify has searched my computer and imported all my music without asking me. Great. Another program I have to manually remove my wife’s collection from.
  • The sound quality is kinda crappy. Fine for having speakers on and low in the background, but with headphones it’s no bueno.
  • I found a setting in preferences to choose high quality music. It informs me I need to have a paid account for that. *sigh*
  • Very impressive collection of music. It even has older stuff and classical music.
  • Audio ads every three songs? Is it based on number of songs or amount of time? Admittedly, I’m listening to longer songs.
  • Audio ads still present themselves even when I’m listening to my music on my local machine. That’s not cool.

As of now, there’s no way I’d pay for this service. For most people, it’s probably a great option, but I want all my music locally and want to listen to it wherever I am, to include on computers I don’t own. Also, if Spotify goes away in a year, five years, or ten years, you’re left with nothing (or if a label or labels decide to bow out). Remember how the Playstation Network recently went down for an extended period of time? Online services are vulnerable, and no matter who is running them there’s never a guarantee that they’ll be functional. I’ll probably use the service from time to time to listen to something that I’ll probably listen to once or twice, but not much more than that. It’s kind of like YouTube—good for temporary entertainment, but not what you’d use for stuff you want to watch over and over again.