Do You Spotify?

November 24, 2011 • Posted by 83Music

Seems there are limitless possibilities these days for streaming music all over your house and even on your mobile devices. Do you store owned music on the cloud and just access it via a tablet or laptop? Do you subscribe to a streaming service and be content with not actually owning the songs? What about sites like Pandora that allow you to discover music but largely dictate the experience and give the user almost no control? Is there anything out there that lets you explore as well as choose what you listen to? Or do you need two sites to accomplish that? Are mp3 players soon to be extinct as wireless networks are built out even more completely over the course of the next two years? Will there be a clear winner between services launched by Google, Amazon, and itunes? There is no end to the questions that can be asked when probing this topic and not enough time to tackle reviews of all the options out there. So why don’t we just focus on one streaming service that’s been generating a lot of buzz lately in the U.S.? Let’s talk about Spotify.

Now fully up and running in the United States (it took 3 years to get here), this streaming giant from Sweden, has put some interesting twists on the personal music experience. It’s web based, but does require a desktop client be installed on your PC (more on that later). There are integrations that you don’t find with other music services (such as deep FACEBOOK connections) and also some features that have been around for a long time on other sites (like the “Radio” feature on Grooveshark). So what do we learn when we dissect the facets of this European and now global enterprise? Find out in the break down below.

Getting Started:

Spotify offers 3 basic plans for beginning your streaming experience with their site. There is a free (ad) version which gives you the basic use most people are looking for out of a web based streaming service. Access to millions of songs, control over what you’re listening to, and the ability to add your own mp3 files to the mix. Next up is the Unlimited version at $4.99 a month. All of the options here are the same but with one big difference some might find necessary… elimination of those pesky audio ads that interrupt the music flow every six to seven songs. Finally, there is a Premium subscription model that of course has all the features of the first two, but allows for a couple of other highly useful options, the ability to play your music on mobile devices (through an app) and stream music off-line (songs are cached in a file on your PC or mobile device).

Desktop Client:

Once you sign up for Spotify, you’ll be prompted to download its specific user interface to your laptop or PC. Once that is accomplished you’ll find a client that shouldn’t be too foreign to most of you. Some of the controls look much like what you’d find when using i-tunes. Other areas of the player might look a little more like FACEBOOK… and there’s a reason for that. On the right side of the window, you will see a list of all your FACEBOOK friends who also have Spotify. As you find other Spotify users who aren’t FB friends and subscribe to their Spotify accounts, they will appear there as well. In the upper left corner is a standard search field. Type in the artist or song you want and away you go. Results are arranged in a variety of ways, but clicking on either the artist name or song name from those results will refine what you see. Once you’ve settled on an artist, you’ll see the most popular songs at the top of the list and then, all their albums on Spotify arranged from newest to oldest. Just double click on something and let the music begin!

Creating a Playlist:

Much like you would in i-tunes, you can create and name a play-list in the left hand column of the screen. Once the play-list is there… simply dragging and dropping songs into it will start building that killer 80’s dance party or that group of love songs you want to send to your 15 year old girlfriend. By right clicking on the play-list you can choose to have it published as public or keep it unpublished and private.

Sharing Music:

Spotify decided to put all their eggs in one basket (so far) and fully integrate FACEBOOK into their application. In fact… (in the U.S.) if you weren’t one of the lucky ones who signed up during the invitation only BETA period, you can’t have a Spotify account without a FB profile. Some people don’t like the public aspects of people being able to see what their listening to. We think that of all the things to be worried about, that sounds a little silly. But you can adjust some settings and keep much of what you do on Spotify a secret (so you better limit Spotify’s spying before you crank up that Justin Beiber or NKOTB). If you have a play-list or a song that you’d like your bestie to hear… it’s as simple as dragging it and dropping it over their name in the right hand column. You even get to attach a little message to it if you’d like. The song will appear in that person’s Spotify inbox as incoming mail and after a couple clicks, you’re (soon not to be) friend will be listening to your ridiculous attempt at getting them to like Nickelback. You can also right click on a song or the “share” tab next to each song and post it to your FACEBOOK profile or send it to Twitter. Easy right? For those of you who would like the ability to share your profile, or links to songs and play-lists somewhere other than your timeline, right clicking also gives you the ability to copy an HTTP link that can be inserted into photos (album covers) or made into hyperlinks in text. Voila!

Exploring Music:

There is also a “Radio” feature on Spotify that will suggest songs for you based on genre or artist. Once you click on the “radio” link in the left hand column, you’ll be taken to a list of genre’s. Simply choose the one you want and the music starts. To select a radio station similar to a particular artist, choose “Artist Radio” from the top of the actual Artist’s page on Spotify. Press play on the first song that appears at the bottom and away the discovery goes.


While there are some features we didn’t cover (like device sync and song “starring”), what we did go over will more than get you started should you choose to take a chance with Spotify. Honestly, we recommend you do. The user interface is appealing and very easy to use. The sharing features are slick (especially access to web links for your play-lists and profile) and as more of your friends start using Spotify, will allow you to learn about a lot of music. While there are some artists whose libraries aren’t on Spotify… you’ll be hard pressed to find them as most of what you want to listen to will be there. We also truly like the benefits of the Premium version as listening to songs offline is sometimes very helpful… especially when you’re using the android or iphone app. Is Spotify enough to be your sole music listening service? It just might be. For those of you (like us) who are a little fanatical about your music… it’s probably more of a useful addtion to your arsenal. But a delightful addition it is. (Follow 83Music on Spotify by clicking on the Spotify button anywhere you see it on this site)

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    [...] us, we will continue to make Spotify a major part of how we share music with you. So read up on some of the particulars(especially if you’re someone who is turned off on the public aspect of the service), and look [...]

  2. 83Music – Coin Worthy Music and Concerts  -  December 5, 2011  -  11:49 pm

    [...] us, we will continue to make Spotify a major part of how we share music with you. So read up on some of the particulars (especially if you’re someone who is turned off on the public aspect of the service), and [...]

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