Spotify led the way for music streaming apps, and it remains one of the top and most well-known music streaming services. Launched in 2008, the Swedish service made free-to-access music mainstream, and can beam brand new music to you in your home or on the go.
Rival services include Google Play, Rdio, Deezer, Xbox Music, Tidal, and now Apple Music. However, none seem to stand out quite as much as Spotify does.
Spotify boasts over 30 million tracks in its catalogue to choose from. Although availability is largely dependent upon the artist and their record labels, the range of current and classic music on Spotify is mind boggling. Furthermore, Spotify will often launch the deluxe versions of albums when they come out, which include all the extra tracks that other streaming services may not have. Little extras like this are what give Spotify the edge.
Spotify is available on computers as a desktop app or web player, or as a mobile app, supported by Android, Windows and iOS.
The application itself has a dark charcoal theme, with the bold green logo. The subdued colours are not distracting, and beautifully contrasts the multi-coloured album artwork. The layout is convenient and intuitive.
An elegant and well crafted application, the desktop app connects your computer to the plethora of music tracks available, with your friends who are also listening on Spotify, and with your Facebook account. The integration of Facebook and Spotify is seamless and easily supports cross-application posting and connecting. (At the time of writing, the Desktop app is running version 1.0.15.)
The mobile app does all of the things the desktop app does, but in a more handy, optimised layout, to work with the phone and touch screen input. (At the time of writing, the mobile app is running version 126.96.36.1990)
The web player does much of what the phone and desktop app does. However, it doesn’t feel as responsive or pleasant to use, likely limited by having to work through a browser. I would recommend downloading and installing the desktop programme over using the web browser.
The service lets you organise your music in terms of playlists, which you can customise greatly, whether it be a collection from a certain artist, a workout playlist, or a gentle one to help you concentrate or sleep. You can share your playlists with friends, or make them public if you wish.
The playlist system extends to huge public playlists which you can subscribe to and keep ready at the touch of a button. Among my favourites is the Songs to Sing in the Shower playlist, which will update every few days with songs which are great to belt out in the privacy of your own bathroom.
Developing on the playlist idea, in July 2015, Spotify released the “Discover Weekly” feature, which, every Monday, completely updates with approximately 2 hours of music that Spotify predicts you will enjoy, based on other songs you have saved to playlists, or what your friends are listening to. It is an amazing way to connect with new tracks and artists you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Surprisingly, I have found the Discover Weekly feature to be pretty accurate at suggesting music that I like.
Spotify Premium or Spotify Free
Ultimately, Spotify’s aim is to make money, and it has to pay the artists and record labels for the use of their tracks. It does this in one of two ways: through advertisements or through a subscription.
I really like the fact that the choice is mine to make. The service doesn’t limit itself to people who are willing to pay out every month, but will let you listen for free, as long as you can deal with radio-style advertising.
There are some extra perks for paying out the £9.99 a month subscription. On the free version you are limited to just hitting shuffle, unable to play specific tracks on whatever playlist you are listening to. On the premium version, you can download the tracks to listen to them offline, and also get a higher audio quality.
Personally, paying £9.99 seems like a worthwhile cost. My music collection is available on my work laptop, my home computer, and my phone, at all times. The download to play offline feature of premium means I can play my music in the car, without having to worry about data signal cutting out.
Spotify is my favourite music playing app and has become an integral part of my daily life. Using it at work, at home and on my phone, the Discover Weekly feature stops my music library from becoming stale, and keeps it constantly growing.
The stable and intuitive design is really nice to use, and its subscription price isn’t that expensive compared to other pay-monthly services.