Spotify vs. BitTorrent: Which Is Better?

For some people, the mind-shift from CD to digital MP3 is still too much to handle. They’re set in their ways and don’t want “none of that downloading.” For others, the impulse is to jump straight to a bit-torrent index site like The Pirate Bay, isoHunt or Demonoid for all their music needs. They’ve downloaded music for years – it’s free! it’s easy! – so why change now? Well, if you can put up with a few commercial breaks, the free version of Spotify gives you a whole heap of other advantages over bit-torrenting. Here’s how.
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BitTorrentSpotify
CostFree (unless caught).Free (or $4.99/month without adverts).
LegalityNot legal when files contain copyrighted material. Can lead to prosecution and criminal record.Legal.
Sound Quality Any (usually from 192kbps thru to 320kbps for MP3 or lossless FLAC)Equivalent to 192kbps MP3 (regular) or 320kbps MP3 (some premium)
AvailabilityMost music is available from bit-torrents, but sometimes there are no seeders.Most music is available on Spotify, but sometimes tracks are removed or not available in your territory.
Ease of Use
  1. Search torrent sites.
  2. Find one with seeders and decent bitrates.
  3. Wait for files to download (depending on seeders, leechers, torrent ratio).
Search and play instantly.
Post-Processing
  1. Move files to scanned music folder.
  2. Locate and add album art.
  3. Retag files.
None.
PortabilityCopy or sync files to each device you want to play the tracks on (or set-up a placeshifting app like Audiogalaxy).Available on any device with Spotify installed.
SecurityPossibility of viruses, spyware, malware, trojans.Secure.
AccuracyPossibility of fake or bogus tracks (you want Take That, you get Dolly Parton).All tracks are as labeled (although some are occasionally mislabeled).
DurabilityEternal (may require move to alternative torrent sites or stealth client).Eternal (unless killed by Apple, Google etc.)
Those were just a few of the advantages Spotify has over bit-torrenting for MP3s. We’ve not mentioned the whole “right thing to do” or “it gives something back to the artist” argument as these are down to your own personal morality as opposed to common sense. Please let us know your thoughts or additions in the comments!
  • sickofmotion

    I don’t agree completely with that. There’s a whole world of music out there that isn’t available on Spotify and that you can only find on p2p websites or blogs. It doesn’t even have to be super obscure either, I mean labels like Drag City, Constellation, Kranky, Profound Lore, Neurot, Thrill Jockey, some of the best labels in their own genres, are not on Spotify.

    Also, there are some very well kept trackers with an emphasis on quality. You won’t find fakes, viruses or crappy encodings there.

    So yeah, Spotify is great and all, but when I’m looking for something that isn’t really mainstream (which includes typical indie darlings), I know I’ll have to go find it somewhere else. It’s a shame that illegal ways outperform legal ones when it comes to catalog’s size, but it’s definitely true.

  • sickofmotion

    Also, if you don’t have a premium account and your connection dies or you go to a place with no internet, well…

  • An interesting thought is that Ludde, spotify’s chief programmer, has made both uTorrent (the best torrent application out there) and spotify.

  • sickofmotion. I’m so tired of that argument.. I don’t think you can find 8+ million different tracks with active seeders using p2p. Ok, spotify misses some labels, but you can’t really compare those two when it comes to the supply of music. 8 million tracks. You call that mainsream? Really?

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  • sickofmotion

    Well mainstream isn’t really the right word, but seriously, there is a ton of music that isn’t on Spotify. 8 million tracks? This tracker alone I’m looking at as I type has at least 6 millions and it’s the most severe ones regarding quality so that means a lot of stuff never gets uploaded there. Add all the music from less strict trackers and you easily get to 8 millions, I’m sure.

    I’m not saying this to dismiss spotify AT ALL. But on a personal level if I had to rely only on Spotify, I would have missed on about 40% of my favourite music released this year, while all of it is available via p2p.

  • Elias, there are over 11 million tracks now. 🙂 However, a good guess is that the countries with the most tracks have slightly above 10 million tracks (due to restrictions).

    Sickofmotion wrote: “…”your connection dies or you go to a place with no internet“.

    Yeah, when you find a new album to download, torrents won’t save your day unless you have a working internet connection. 😉

    Seriously though, it’s very easy to use local files with Spotify, which means a missing indie label or artist is not much of an issue anymore.

  • sickofmotion

    Yeah, when you find a new album to download, torrents won’t save your day unless you have a working internet connection

    Obviously what I meant is that once you have it on your computer or drive, you don’t have to rely on an internet connection (or tracks being removed, or Spotify being down, etc.). That’s one of the reasons why I’ll never switch to full streaming and keep my physical music.

  • I knew what you meant (was just pulling your leg a little).

    Still, for me the greatest part about Spotify is to constantly find new albums (I guess that’s why I blog about it). And to be able to read about an album and then listen to it just seconds later.

    Before Spotify I used torrents and usenet all the time. Hell I even thought I had a pretty good idea about some genres and I had over 1000 artists in my last.fm library. Now, two years later I have over 7000. There is so much good music out there waiting to be found.

  • I think Spotify is freer than BitTorrent.

    I’d like to pay anyone £9.99/month if he can download everything I want to hear instantly, anywhere, anytime. Anyone wants the job?;)

    And you must share those £9.99 with the music makers.

  • Andreas

    @sickofmotion:

    1. You can’t blame Spotify if this or that music is not available. Blame the labels who refuse to be partnered with Spotify, or just ask the labels you are missing if they want to work with Spotify (http://www.spotify.com/int/work-with-us/labels-and-artists/)

    2. So if the music you are looking for is not available on Spotify you just download it? Ever thought of BUYING this music instead to support these labels and artists?

  • sickofmotion

    @Andreas
    1) Show me where I blamed Spotify for the music that is not available. I did not. Saying that some music is not on Spotify is merely stating a fact, it’s not an attack.
    2) Don’t worry, I actually buy a lot of music. But I like to know what I buy first, hence why I either stream it, if available, or else download it, so I can decide if it’s worth buying or not. And yes, I DO care a lot about supporting artists and labels, and that is exactly why I choose to put my money into actual records (and directly from them whenever it’s possible), rather than switching to streaming services from which they might earn a few cents if they’re lucky.

  • Roger

    OMG, why all these arguments, why make a competition out of it, just listen through Spotify(or other stream) and if it is really not available or you want it physically, use p2p. I have been using both for many years and all this above makes me laugh a lot

  • Roger

    Or buy it !

  • Andreas

    If you are renting cars and the car you want to rent is not available, then you go and steal it, right? Just for testing purposes of course… 😉

  • As the sad survivor of hard-disk crashes with my entire music library getting wiped twice, I disagree very much with the durability on local files being forever.

    I’d also like to add something on the ease of use: instantly see the most popular (and therefore likely to be the best) tracks by that artist. Now you don’t have to download and listen to an entire discography anymore.

  • sickofmotion wrote: “I DO care a lot about supporting artists and labels, and that is exactly why I choose to put my money into actual records (and directly from them whenever it’s possible), rather than switching to streaming services from which they might earn a few cents if they’re lucky.

    If they have very few listeners they probably won’t earn much money anywhere. But if they are good and available in Spotify (or p2p or other platforms with millions of users) they are very likely to get more listeners which will mean more money in the long run.

    Besides, not all of us can afford to buy all the albums we like.

    PS. The latest payments from Spotify to artists/labels were huge. But I suppose you knew that already. 🙂

  • Edijs

    Use What.cd … it owns Sporify by a long shot!

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