Over the years,I have used many other online music services before. I don't like services that only play a specific genre or era of music as after a while one ends up hearing the same kind of stuff over and over again, there seldom are any delightful surprises, and I like to hear the latest songs.
With the exception of Pandora, which I loved during the brief period it was available in Canada. It had most of the music I liked, but it was incredibly good at predicting music I hadn't heard of but liked. I was sad when they pulled the plug on Canadians accessing it.
I've heard Spotify was as good as Pandora, so when I heard they were planning of coming to Canada I got on the waiting list for my invitation. So I was quite happy earlier this week when I got my sneak peek entry code.
And I'm happy to report that I love it!
Patrick O'Rourke at Canada.com has done an excellent job describing the features of Spotify and comparing it to similar services. Michael D'Alimonte at MTL Blog provides a great tutorial on the service for Canadians complete with ample screenshots.
It is not clear, however, what Spotify's pricing model will be once it is fully rolled out into Canada. Currently, I have access to the service for no charge. There are no commercials, instead there are tips on how to use Spotify spliced between songs, which I'm assuming will be eventually replaced with conventional commercials. I don't listen to music on my smartphone, so I haven't tried that service yet, although it sounds very promising.
What I love about Spotify
Here's what I want from an online music service and so far Spotify has:
- ability to listen to specific songs on demand
- extensive collection of songs from the past 70 years
- ability to make customizable playlists
- ability to skip songs, preferably unlimitedly (but a limit is fine)
- playlists or channels based on genres, tempo / mood, or holiday
At present, I'm getting all these services for free - including unlimited skips and on-demand songs. But from what I've read of Spotify's service levels in other countries the ability to have unlimited skips and on-demand song choice is a "premium" feature, that I'll have to pay $10 a month for after my sneak peak is over.
I love the interface. It's very easy to use. Downloading and installing was simple on my old computer.
There collection seems pretty extensive, with a strong Canadian component. I tried to find my favourite songs and found pretty much all but a handful (apparently some artists have pulled their songs from Spotify due to their meagre payments - see BBC).
They dazzled me when I searched for "The Girl from Ipanema" and there were at least a couple hundred versions and they even had about twenty versions of "The Story of My Life" (a no-longer secret fav). I think my music taste is eclectic so I like an expansive, diverse collection from a music service. As a reviewer of Spotify noted that it has the ability to serve "subset of people who like to mix corny hip-hop with twangy country oldies" which perfectly describes me.
There ability to search for songs, artists, and albums works great. When I do find a new artist I like (it turns out that the covers of "The Story of My Life" are excellent - better than 1D even!) I like the links to their bios and other songs.
I haven't integrated Spotify with my social media, but I think that would be a great feature if there were a critical mass of my friends using it.
What I don't like about Spotify
Their help and tutorial content could be much better - or frankly exist at all. They appear to rely heavily on user communities, which is fine (particularly for the people using the service for free). But in browsing a bunch of posts, I found many posts by people paying for the premium service and not being able to contact customer service any other way.
I'm also not impressed by their recommendation engine (particularly compared to how great Pandora was at this) . Their "Discover" feature appears to just be recommending music trending in an undefined "near me" - but it isn't close to music I would like. They also present some artists that are popular on Spotify, but these have not changed in days of using the service and have not been updated to reflect the various songs I have added to my lists and favourites. For example, they have been recommending Adele to me for days. What a novel artist to recommend - it's not like I'd ever heard of her or would encounter her work otherwise.
They have the ability to generate recommended songs based on a song provided - which they call a "Radio Station". My experience with this was dismal - the songs they returned were not similar in instrumentation, tempo, genre, or any other pattern I could discern other than a similar time period (i.e., plus or minus ten years).
So other than being seriously underwhelmed by their recommendation ability, I overall love Spotify.
I'm going to go to bed now, but before logging off, I put on an Adele song ("Chasing Pavement") and it turns out this Adele isn't such a bad singer. Who would've known?