Ten Things You Thought Were Missing from Spotify (But Aren’t Really)

CAUTION – THIS PAGE IS PROBABLY NOW OUT-OF-DATE

There are many things I believe set Spotify apart from the competition. Chief of which is that Spotify focuses on the music and leaves many of the frills to 3rd parties. Whereas other music subscription services try to bake in as many bells and whistles as possible, Spotify’s open programing interface allows anyone to build apps and websites to compliment the service. This way Spotify can concentrate on what they do best – delivering the music – while benefiting from the vast community of external developers. As Spotify CEO Daniel Ek recently said:

“We just focus on music. I think ultimately companies that do one thing and try to do it really well often succeed much better than companies that try to do 50 things at once.”

So here are ten “complaints” I’ve seen from new users of Spotify who are more used to services that try to provide everything but the kitchen sink. For each one, I point you to an available solution. The list also includes a few other issues that sometimes come up when discussing Spotify vs. Your Former Favorite Music App. For these, I offer some workarounds or alternatives.

 

1. There’s no radio or recommendation service

There is now! Spotify launched in the USA without the radio feature enjoyed by European users. But the latest update (0.5.2.84) has now enabled the Artist Radio tab on artist pages. Your Spotify client should update automatically as Spotify roll out the change, but if you can’t wait simply go to the website and download Spotify again manually.

That said, there are many Spotify community sites that provide much better recommendation services than the in-built radio. My current favorites are:

2. The What’s New section in Spotify only lists a few albums

Spotify add on average over 10,000 new tracks to their catalog every day. That’s a lot of music, so it’s no wonder they only spotlight the most popular artists. But there are many 3rd-party new-release notification services, and many can be tailored to tell you about only the artists you like. My top three are:

  • My own New on Spotify page, which lists all the new releases and lets you search by genre
  • SpotiMail – emails you whenever there’s a new release from a favorite artist. More here…
  • Spofm – custom list of new releases on Spotify, based on your Last.fm account

Example email from Spotimail

 

3. There’s no lyrics feature

UPDATE: There is now, thanks to the Spotify App TuneWiki!

There are several apps and Spotify plugins that give you on-demand lyrics to the music in Spotify. We’re featuring these in an upcoming article, but for now have a look at:

  • Lyrify – Windows add-on that finds lyrics for songs on Spotify
  • ListDJ – blends with the Spotify client to give you the lyrics of the current playing track
  • ListeningNow – browser-based lyric plugin for Spotify

 

4. The search syntax is too obscure

To find something on Spotify, all you do is type the artist or song name into the search box and view the results. Like Google Search, there are some more advanced search features but you need to know the keywords and syntax. I find it mostly adequate, and great for listing, say, remixes that a band I like has done for other bands (search for bandname -artist:bandname). If you’d rather use an app, try Spotify Super Search instead (disclaimer: I was involved with SSS’s development). This lets you build a search query using dropdown menus and has a neat History of previous searches.

 

5. There’s no album ratings or user comments

Many artist and album pages have a review section as provided by All Music Guide and Wikipedia (tip for bands: if you don’t have a biog in Spotify, add a page in Wikipedia for Spotify to source), but you can’t add your own “This album rocks” or “This album sucks” comments. You can “star” an album, but that’s only for you and not graded. I use Last.fm if I really want to comment on an album, but for reviews and ratings try these Spotify-friendly sites:

  • Spotimy – lists ratings and reviews from 22 different sources, including  All Music, BBC, the Guardian, NME, and The Skinny
  • Pitchify – collects reviews from Pitchfork and Drowned In Sound
  • biblify – searches the web every night for the latest album reviews

Also check out Lastify (not to be confused with last.ify). It adds Last.fm integration to Spotify so you can “love”, tag, and “ban” what you’re listening to (Mac OS X only).

biblify includes sliders for you set review scores

 

6. The genres are screwed up or just not very helpful

Spotify gets its genre information from the record labels that supply the tracks. These are sometimes a bit vague, inconsistent, and random. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do about that. The cloud-sourced tags in Last.fm are much more useful and it’s those that are used for the searchable New on Spotify page. Spotify Classical Playlists has some excellent tips on searching for classical music, and many of the Spotify playlist sharing sites have genre tags and categories different from the internal genres.

 

7. My favorite band isn’t on Spotify!

Some artists (or their record labels) don’t want their music on streaming services like Spotify. Some even discriminate based on your country (for example, Oasis are not on Spotify in the UK but they are everywhere else). I keep a track of some of the missing artists here. You can also check new site Spotiwish to note missing albums you wish Spotify would carry.

The main tip I have for you though is to check again every month or so. Spotify is constantly signing new deals with labels and the labels themselves often realize they’re missing the action and add their content. For example, Warp Records recently added heaps from their back-catalog, as did American industrial label Metropolis Records. You’ll also find albums will be removed for a few weeks to make way for new re-mastered versions. And I’ve seen labels remove a band’s catalog from Spotify because the artist has a forthcoming new album out. These usually reappear on Spotify a few months later, so be sure to check your missing favorites again every once in a while. But while you’re waiting, why not try:

 

8. I have Spotify Premium but some songs don’t sound high quality

UPDATE: as good as the whole catalog is now in high quality!

You’ve probably read that Spotify Premium gives you 320kbps streaming. This is true to a degree, but unfortunately not every song is at this high bitrate. Spotify readily admit this but claim that the most-popular and most listened-to music in their 20 million catalog is in high quality. So, if your tastes are mainstream you’ve nothing to worry about. But if you’re into more obscure music and have a good audiophile ear, you might notice some songs don’t sound quite as good as others.

Image via Eplemosen

I currently listen to Spotify mostly on my mobile (where all songs are at 160kbps q5 bitrate) so this isn’t that much of a problem for me personally. One tip though is to make sure you’re listening to the most popular version of the song, since there are often multiple copies from alternate albums, compilations, remasters etc. The ones with the most “popularity bars” are more likely to be the high-bitrate versions.

 

9. There are gaps between the songs

UPDATE: Gapless playback was enabled in Spotify recently!

Gapless playback is where there isn’t a bit of silence between songs and different tracks merge seamlessly together. This is most commonly used on live albums, DJ mix albums and some classical music. Spotify doesn’t support gapless playback yet, but there are a few workarounds and things to consider. To mimimize the gap, try offline syncing the album before listening. That way the gap will be as short as possible. And if you’re into dance music, check to see whether there’s a one-track version of the full album. For example, track 31 on 30 Best Trance Albums Ever is a 74 minute Full DJ Mix. Try searching for “continuous” or “dj mix” for others.

 

10. Roberta from Spotify

Actually, I think Roberta is missing from Spotify… oh well.

 

  • Equalify Software

    11. There is no Equalizer in spotify

    For windows users there is a 3rd party spotify add-on called equalify!
    http://www.equalify.me

    10 band equalizer, pre-amp and its free!

  • 😉

  • 11. I want to listen to my entire Spotify collection (all playlists) on random (and know my playlist stats):
    Library tells you how many playlists, songs and albums are in your library and lets you play them all.

    (Don’t know how I overlooked this feature for so long!)

  • Good tip! Thanks,  sorta forgot that one myself :p

  • Henry Cole

    Wow awesome, this should be in the blog post. Great tool, thanks for sharing 😀

  • Anonymous

    Awesome as always, I love this site!
    keep up your excellent work! 🙂

  • Thanks very much for your support TwistedRat; I’ve seen you post some links around the web recently and really do appreciate it! Best wishes, Jer

  • Guest

    The first CD I tried listening too on Spotify was a classical CD with most tracks a minute or less in length and intended to be listened to with gapless playback…oops! 

  • Yikes! Yeah, that can be annoying. For me, it’s this Shpongle album that gets hit by the gaps: 
    http://open.spotify.com/album/3gADTEmnRMlh6WL33OYceI

  • 8, ” So, if your tastes are mainstream you’ve nothing to worry about.”

    Though my taste might be a bit too obscure, but I do want my Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez in 320 kbps!!!

  • There’s Audio Hijack to do the same on a Mac (though you can add any number of effects to any app, EQ is just one of them)

  • GaryCN

    It is temperamental running in Linux via Wine. I’m using Linux Mint 9 (isadora) Gnome 2.30.2 AMS Athlon II 64. I usually take 2 or 3 attempts to start it up dismissing a few error messages. But once running is seems to function normally. I do miss the rating feature like iTunes where you can play top rated songs.

  • Good to know Gary, thanks. I ran Wine under Ubuntu on my Eee PC for a while, but haven’t tried the latest Spotify client.

  • Edizz

    If you want you own band´s music on Spotify (and iTunes Store, Amazon etc)…
    Check out this link: http://www.uploadmymusiconspotifyforfree.com
    It worked for me and it’s really free!

  • JW_00000

    You do know there’s an official “Spotify for Linux”? See http://www.spotify.com/download/previews/. It’s still ‘in preview’, and has been so for maybe a year; but it seems to work OK.

  • Jane Macy-Painter

    As far as I know, there’s no way to Star an artist, rather than specific songs. Have I missed something? If not, they really need to get on that!

  • You’re right, only songs can be “starred.” The new homepage carousel does feature custom recommended new releases though, so artists you’ve listened to often (i.e. “virtually” starred) will come up there.

  • Vcmnky

    How do you turn up Spotify? I moved the volume slider all the way up and Spotify is still really quiet.

  • Dave@mailinator.com

    Roberta from spotify nows works on the ubuntu one service, in case you’re still wondering.

  • Ahh so that’s what happened to her – thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Ability to register without using Facebook. Oh, that is missing…

  • Humm seems upsetting that i can’t browse by, artist > album. Currently i have to just scroll down until i find them. I can type ‘x’ and go to x but i can’t type ‘xyz’ for artist xyz. I’ve searched for  browser thing like this all over. As a user who only listening to albums this is a must for me 🙁

    Also somebody mentioned flac support. I’d be lovely as well 🙁

  • pmw

    I’d like to be able to star a whole selection of songs at one time but I can’t seem to figure out how…

  • I don’t think that’s possible – starring is track-by-track only for now.

  • npm

    you can star complete albums too.

  • Nick

    I have seen a similar recommendations field when listening to an album on my friends PC version of spotify but cannot find how to switch it on for my MAC – can anyone help?

  • Just

    I think the desktop is close to useless. Where is the graphic Player? Where are the scroll bars? And what about the search results? When I search a spesific artist, I don’t want hits on everything else.

  • Yep

    No Starred Artist. What in the fuck are they thinking?

  • Kristian Robertsen

    type in artist:”Name of Artist”
    Example: artist:sons and daughters
    Example 2: artist:Elvis

  • Kristian Robertsen

    Search for artists by typing in artist:nameofartist
    Search for tracks by typing in track:trackyouwant

    i.e. track:Demon Kitty Rag

  • Jer – Any idea if there’s an add-on to have spotify say the name of the song and artist when it begins playing a new track? Would love that for when I’m listening with it in the background!

  • Hi Mark – try “Spotify Speak” http://www.dsh2000.com/SpotifyUK.htm – I’ve not tried it myself, but sounds like this might be what you’re after.

  • L Merger

    There’s no reply of the same song only the whole playlistt. really annoying. Also, want to create a playlist and merge random songs to create one continuos smooth transitions. For a party scene.

  • 0x80

    How about a plain simple album listing without having to browse a long list of tracks??? You know, just a simple list of album names? I have been waiting for over a year for this. At the time it seemed so obvious that I expected them to implement it any time. Especially on the iphone the current view is horribly impractical for anyone trying to keep track of lots of music. I am surprised that I don’t encounter more frustrated people.

  • steph

    Replay: Best workaround I have found is to choose “library” and filter for the song you want to repeat. A bit clunky but it works. Also works for local albums that don’t have an album link. Still wish they’d make this better but at least you can get what you want?

    Smooth transitions: Try “crossfade tracks” in preferences?

  • Anonymous

    You can register w/o facebook. i did. It’s a bit obscure to find but you can go here https://www.spotify.com/us/signup/open/ and look at the bottom of the sign up. You can sign up using an email address.

  • jake mounsher

    Would LOVE to be able to trim track lengths for DJ sets. Perhaps with its own kind of (differently colored) playlist? Even if we could just input the time where the song should start/end/crossfade. That would make spotify truly awesome!

  • song lenght

    I wish song length could be edited, sometimes the end or beginning of a song is just quiet for many seconds.

  • I expected them to implement it any time.
    IRFP064N

  • Sammy

    It’s incredibly upsetting that I can only have 3,333 songs available offline. Not only is that just an absolutely ridiculous number, but it’s is just not high enough! One of my playlists ALONE is over 6,000 songs. :/ I pay $10 a month, and have for over a year now. You’d think they’d offer something for long-time users…

  • premiumuser

    Local music om mobile without using some stupid sync feature.

  • JPHK

    They deleted a feature I loved: the ability to search once you’re on an artist’s list of songs. I used to press CTRL-F (for find) and it would bring up the search window. No longer.

  • Hmm, still works for me, just that the filter box is a bit smaller (top-right-ish)

  • Bryant

    How about this: There’s no way to search for any of this apps and install them… hahaha, f***king ironic.

  • Tyson Stone

    Quality on some tracks are definitely not 320kbps (really obvious when it hits on a good system). If you download Fidelify it will tell you the real bitrate after it crunches the numbers. Also, while Vorbis may generally sound better than MP3 at the same bitrate, it pales in comparison to FLAC or any other lossless format when hooked up into a good speaker system. With headphones usually Spotify sounds good until I setup my Dell XPS Laptop -> Foobar -> FLAC -> Audio Quest Dragonfly DAC -> Schiit Asgard 2 Amp -> HiFiMan HE-400’s. For most Spotify is more than enough, but there are those of us out there that like a bit more quality :).

    Otherwise, great article.

  • Southbound27

    Great to see Pink Floyd are finally on their way to Spotify! http://www.btoe.com/stories/pink-floyd-finally-coming-to-spotify

  • 5am

    its definitely missing a mixing app to allow you to know the bpm; start and end from a certain point in the track and to speed or slow down the track as you wish/want it to sound. Should be placed as an extra chargeable feature…..

  • Nicholas “Lavacano” O’Connor

    Last I checked that was for Premium users only because they were having issues getting ads to play correctly.

  • Greedcake

    There should be an option making you able to listen to songs from your playlist as well as the songs from the radio :3

  • Themachineyou

    Please Check out NEW ARTIST: Kayos Keyid https://play.spotify.com/album/4sf5ZQVq4QjBeTIdID8VyV

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