Feeds

Spotify's music manager makeover - does it work?

Join their download club, use your iPod, scratch your head...

Boost IT visibility and business value

Last week, Spotify announced perhaps the biggest overhaul to its service since its launch. It has taken several days to roll out and is very interesting.

Most of the attention in early reports was on one technical feature: the ability to sync music with Apple's iPods and iPhones. But it is as interesting for the new commercial proposition. Streaming is now just one of several things that Spotify does, which is slightly surprising since Spotify is the best known "streaming" music company in Europe. Last week Spotify also introduced what is effectively a "download club", too: you get discounts on volume purchases. And these volumes, or bundles, are lists of your choice – not that of a record company.

How does all this add up in practice? Is it worth your money? Does it break Spotify's legendary simplicity? By Friday, we were in a better position to find out. Using both the new iPhone client and desktop client, I took it through its paces.

Piggy-backing onto iTunes

The main technology shift is that rather than operating as an independent "silo", Spotify now leans heavily on your existing MP3 collection and associated playlists.

"Devices" is new

What are they trying to tell us?

The desktop client reads your iTunes library, and replicates the "hard" playlists as it first finds them; iTunes' "smart playlists" are simply ignored. It's all done with the minimum of fuss. Most people won't notice the indexing process, and the Playlists appear almost instantly.

Similarly, on the phone, the Spotify client now reads the local library, and locally stored playlists, playing what it can. But it also copies all your Desktop playlists. Since most desktop libraries are larger than a mobile device can handle, many people use a subset of those playlists on their mobile device. This means the playlists in the Spotify mobile client maybe sparsely populated, or completely empty. Weird.

Unlike iTunes, Spotify doesn't support hierarchical playlists. I have hundreds, and it's hard enough to manage them even with folders, in one great long vertical list. Power users, note.

Before you start using Spotify in earnest, you'll need to manually twiddle with a couple of options.

Buying the tenner-a-month package entitles you to "High Quality Streaming" at 320kbit/s. But the lower bitrate streaming is stil the default. The Spotify client doesn't know seem to know which tariff you are on.

The other tweak, if disk space is short, is to keep an eye on how much space is being used by the Spotify cache. This will continue to grow and grow, unless you manually inhibit it.

Yes, go ahead and use up all of my precious SSD space for your vast cache.

Note that Spotify doesn't make a copy of the MP3: it uses the hierarchy and folder structure set up by iTunes.

A pop-up menu confirms that Spotify leaves the MP3 where it found it – in the iTunes folder hierarchy.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.