For much of today I was listening to music via Spotify, the P2P-based music streamer that’s like an iTunes client for thousands of complete albums, EPs and CD singles, all delivered instantly and encoded in high-quality 160kb/s Ogg Vorbis. I’m usually a 320kb/s mp3 snob, so audio quality is important to me (one reason why I don’t do iTunes): Spotify beats Last.fm in this respect, and sounds better than my 320’s streamed via Orb too. I used the free version of Spotify, which has no restrictions except for a short 30-second commercial about once every 20 minutes or so and the odd in-client pop-up.
When I first looked at Spotify the other day, I was impressed but I thought the lack of smaller indie bands would mean I only used it to listen to the odd big commercial releases. But that was before I found out it had almost the entire DC Recordings catalogue, including the latest Death Before Distemper compilation:
DC Recordings is a smallish British independant label who specialize in electro-cosmic-disco-radiophonia; I like pretty much everything they release, especially from two of my favourite bands Depth Charge and The Emperor Machine. Finding DC Recordings output on Spotify really impressed me: it’s a glimmer of hope that this may be more than just a place to preview the new U2 album.
I also discovered some Freezepop albums, another band I wouldn’t have expected to see here. Interestingly, this included their iTunes-only release (the Form Activity Motion remix album). I’m often perplexed that music I’d like to buy is only available on iTunes, but now here’s Spotify with at least some of that “exclusive” content but without the Apple lock-in.
I compiled a few Spotify playlists based on actual real mixtapes I made back in the day:
Spotify’s catalogue began to show its limitations again here however: each of those playlists is missing at least half the tracks from the original analogue cassette versions. But Spotify’ song-count is growing by the thousand every week, so hopefullly I’ll be able to expand these back to their full-story glory soon.
Mix names are often not tagged correctly: an EP may appear to have the same song 5 times, but each is a different mix (obvious if you look at each song’s duration). I had to refer to other websites to work out which mix was the one I wanted to hear. For example, here’s an Underworld single in Spotify with four mixes on it:
I’ve not subscribed to Spotify yet but I’m giving it some serious consideration. £10/month at first seems a little steep, but it’s on a par with the similar US-only Rhapsody service ($13/month) and is nothing compared with what I used to spend on CDs. A Google Android client would be the clincher for me, especially if it cached to the SD card.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is a change in mindset: I moved from buying and owning CDs to downloading mp3s, but in both these cases I had some tangible “thing” to call my own and look at and say “here’s my collection.” Many bloggers think Spotify will fail unless it offers an mp3 download feature, but I reckon they miss the point: the music’s all in the (little fluffy) clouds now, man.