Spotify has arrived in the US. Per their site, Spotify offers on demand music streaming.
iTunes, which revolutionized the way we buy and listen music, allows you buy, download, and listen to on or offline. Pandora allows you to build music channels of your choice and customization and listen for free online. Both have catches.
iTunes, well, it costs money for starters, not everything is $.99 as it used to be, and if you’re looking to audition a piece of music before buying it, you can only listen to a small snippet. Which doesn’t work for any number of genres – jazz, classical, or anything that isn’t predictable or longer than a minute. Oh, and in case you forget it, you don’t really own the music, iTunes does. You’re essentially paying for access on demand, on a total of five devices and/or machines.
Pandora is free, but you have to put up with ads. You can add artists or pieces of music to your stream but then have to put up with other “similar” choices that Pandora thinks also matches your selections. And you can only skip so many of those sometimes unwanted selections per hour before you are then stuck with whatever else comes out of Pandora’s box. By the way, adding an artist to your free stream doesn’t mean you’ll actually hear him or her anytime soon. It’s like old fashioned radio. You just gotta wait.
Then there’s Spotify. Which, so far, really does seem to live up to it’s promise of a vast library – how else to explain that they have The Bombay Vikings’ cover of the 1957 Bollywood number, Chod Do Aanchal, which I have been looking for, high and low for years now including at brick and mortar music stores in Bangalore? And Spotify allows you to audition everything before downloading – in full. Which means upon getting my coveted invitation this afternoon I immediately checked out which version of You Are The New Day I liked the best. Spotify also allows you to add to your playlist listen to your selection right away. No waiting and being offered “similar” selections until that cut of Doris Day singing S’Wonderful comes on. For free.
And there was much rejoicing among the music nuts in all the land…..
Information may want to be free, but there’s always money to be made and there’s always a catch, ads in this case. Although Spotify helpfully puts a little countdown clock in the lower right corner of the window so you aren’t sitting there going “how long is this fool going to babble at me about xyz?!” For a small price (depending on your definition of “small”) you can skip the ads. And for a higher price you can not only enjoy your programming with no further interruptions, you can also listen for an unlimited time, and take your music outside the country.
But you can already take your iTunes with you anywhere, right? Right. That would be the one downside of Spotify, and where it’s not likely to displace iTunes any time soon. Except for the vast majority of people like me who do their best to avoid anything and everything TSA related, and aren’t going off the grid, this isn’t an issue. No, the issue is that your enjoyment of Spotify is greatly limited if you have what Rob Pegoraro kindly called a “feature phone” at a recent seminar. That would be the opposite of a smart phone, except “feature” sounds so much nicer than “dumb.” If you don’t have a smart phone, then you are limited to using Spotify on your PC, which is where I’m enjoying my eclectic folkie-Motown-Bollywood influenced music stream as I write this post. Basically, Spotify assumes you have and live a smart phone life. And well, isn’t that the truth, with the bizarre exception of yours truly?
For the record, and for my money, the best version of You Are The New Day does seem to be by The King Singers, although there turns out to be a simpler and lovely version by The St. Philips Boy’s Choir. A determination that might have been hard to make on iTunes because I am loathe to plunk down money – in dollars or pennies – for something I’m not quite sure isn’t going to annoy me on the 31st second I can’t hear during audition. I’m cheap like that.
I’ve long been planning to finally ditch the dumb feature phone and move to smarter devices this fall. (See note above about cheapness.) When that happens, I will be able to fully explore the experience and Spotify on the go. I cannot wait.
For your enjoyment, here are the King Singers, live in Nashville. You Are the New Day begins around 2:10 if you want to skip the talk, although it is a lovely dedication.