Thoughts on Spotify

Ever since the digital revolution there has been a claim that the future of the music industry is here every few months.
For the first time though I think it might have actually arrived.

Spotify has been getting loads of coverage lately…so thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and check it out.

Spotify is a program with which users have access to absolutely vast amounts of music for free streaming. Pretty much most albums by most artists are represented, depending on whether or not their record companies have made a deal with spotify. The only exceptions I’ve been able to find are for a few rather obscure bands and others of the Beatles, Metallica, Pink Floyd megastar variety who are often skeptical of online music.

The catch is that on a free Spotify account youre played an advert every half an hour or so and occasionally are shown some banners. You can also pay for an account which allows you to listen without adverts. It’s a swedish based company which after a while of being invite only is now pretty much open to most of europe.

So, after a week of giving it a go I’ve come to a few conclusions.

It’s biggest strength, for me at least is its ability to help you find out about bands youre curious about. For example I’ve always been quite interested in the Cocteau Twins but never really knew which of their albums to listen to first or whether I’d like them that much. With Spotify I just stuck the name into the search and began checking them out a couple of their albums. This is great and I’ve been tracking down more bands that I’d half heard of and have been checking them out all week. My musical knowledge has expanded so much in the last few days. The only downside is that the “artists you may like” section to be expanded upon and a social networking type set-up would also appreciated. Having said that Last.Fm has all those features and Spotify is fully compatible with it so they’re good things to use in connection with each other.

Another couple of strengths are that the software is quick and simple to download, easy to use and generally pretty swish. I was a little skeptical as to whether it would stream smoothly on my frankly ridiculously poor internet connection that I’m stuck with living in halls, but so far I’ve had no problems and if it works for me it’ll probably work for you.

On the downside however I do have a problem with the whole set-up of adverts interrupting every few tracks. Although the ads are fairly unobtrusive and not even that annoying I don’t like how no one seems to mind that they can stick ads in the middle of an Album. It seems to me to be another step towards the death of the album as an art form. I guess I’m old fashioned but I believe in listening to albums all the way through in one go, and that the best albums can take you on a journey which shouldn’t be interrupted. Nowadays however I think theres too much emphasis on the single and albums can feel like a collection of unconnected tracks thrown together. Breaking albums with ads seems to be another nail in the coffin and another step from artistry into consumerism.

It also needs to be said that Spotify isn’t any good for music on the move (although I’ve heard rumours of an iphone application, I’m skeptical apple will approve seeing as a large part of the iphone’s appeal are its mp3 player capabilities) as nothing can be downloaded or moved to a portable device. It’s also not going to do too much to stop downloading, sure It’ll stop the people downloading to find out about bands but people are going to want to put stuff on their mp3 players.

All in all, I think it really is going to be the next big change in the way people listen to music, but for me it’s not going to stop me from buying CD’s, I just like having that feeling of a connection with an album, having the artwork and being able to listen to it away from a computer.

Oh and by the way I’ve decided that I very much like the Cocteau Twins, find Liz Frasers voice haunting and thoroughly enjoyed the albums Treasure, and Head Over Heels and shall listen to some more when I get a chance.

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