Feeds

Spotify: We kick the tyres

Best thing since sliced vinyl?

The essential guide to IT transformation

Review Spotify, which opened up to all UK users this week, is a streaming music access service that's gathered an ecstatic response from some users. It's even "made illegal file sharing look like too much hard work" according to one Reg commenter. That's a pretty big claim - but then it's a pretty ambitious service. So what it is Spotify, and how does it stack up? And in an unforgiving commercial environment, will it last longer than a bat of a eyelid?

What's Spotify?

Spotify is attempting to be a universal jukebox - you click a button, and play any song or album instantly. This isn't a new idea: it's a free, ad-supported version of the US-only Rhapsody, or Napster's streaming service. Deezer does something similar. Spotify inserts adverts (currently every 10 songs or half hour or so) but offers a 99p a day, or a tenner-a-month subscription option to listen ad-free. There's no option to permanently keep recordings.

So the idea isn't new, and Google already offers a universal jukebox, albeit mostly unlicensed and low quality, with YouTube. What's the fuss about?

Primarily it's Spotify's responsiveness. The speed with which Spotify plays music is quite amazing. One of my Reg colleagues reckons it's faster than iTunes accessing its music library on your local hard disk. We didn't get the stopwatch out to test this, but the perception of near-instant playback is justified, and perception matters a lot. Click on a related artist, and the music continues without a hiccup (in practice, less than two seconds).

In this respect Spotify leaves web-based internet radio services like Last.fm and Pandora for dead. Spotify shuns Web 2.0 in favour of a native client on Windows and Mac, but it also employs some fetching (P2P is misleading here, since it's being pulled off a server).

Sound quality is so-so: at around 160kbps it's got that "standing outside the room" feel to it.

Spotify's agreeably minimal UI

The spartan UI based on iTunes - playlists on the left, library on the right - but without much of the clutter iTunes has accrued over the years. Everything else is pretty minimal too. That's because Spotify, which is still in stealth mode despite being in beta for well over a year, is still a minimal service. There's very few gimmicks: no widgets or scrobbling. Basically, you're scrolling vertically through lists and lists of albums. Spotify offers you five "similar artists", with instant navigation to more vertical lists, but there's no ability to fine tune a search, or browse by label. (As with other services, label information which is so useful in real life is missing).

As with Omnifone you can share playlists with other users. The UI for this is practically non-existant, however. A right click will paste a URI (with either http: or spotify: as the handler) onto the clipboard - it's up to you what to do with it. There's no UI to browse other users, let alone "stalk" them (as PlayLouder MSP, also in beta, permits) or chat to them. Playlists can also be shared in read-write format - which means anyone can edit it.

The "sharing" functionality is there, it's just pretty minimal too

spotify:user:userid:playlist:playlistid

or

spotify:track:trackid

Since Spotify is, er, "cloud based", your playlists are preserved as you move between machines. Do people share Spotify playlists? Perhaps they do, but not really here.

So for frills and extras, look elsewhere. Some artists have a brief page of biographical material, typically a fraction of the Wikipedia entry, and many more don't.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.