Tag Archives: top5

Top 5 Spotify Stats

Spotify has:

  1. About two million songs currently available
  2. The license to add about another four million songs
    (they claim to be adding around 10,000 new tracks a day)
  3. Over 1,000,000 subscribers world-wide
  4. Over 250,000 subscribers in the UK
  5. Over 5,000 record labels on-board
Everybody’s favourite voice: Roberta from Spotify
Sources: Spotify staff recent interviews and publicly available documents. Photo from Flickr

Top 20 Albums of 2008 – Update #2

I posted recently that “out of my Top 20 Albums of 2008, Spotify only has a measly two of them” Well, a mere two weeks later and it’s starting to look a little better: Spotify now has the following 6 excellent albums available in the UK:

My Top 20 Albums of 2008

1. Parralox – “Electricity”
2. Kelley Polar – “I Need You to Hold on While the Sky Is Falling”
3. Padded Cell – “Night Must Fall”

4. Zeigeist – “The Jade Motel
5. Gentle Touch – “In Memory of Savannah
6. The Presets – “Apocalypso
7. Ticon – “2AM”
8. Thermostatic – “Humanizer
9. Deadmau5 – “Random Album Title”
10. Vibrasphere – “Lungs of Life”
11. Tegma – “Lo-Fi Adventures”

12. Ott – “Skylon”

13. Entheogenic – “Flight of the Urubus”

14. Duca – “After Dark”

15. Spleen United – “Neanderthal”

16. Morgan Geist – “Double Night Time”

17. Ayria – “Hearts For Bullets”

18. Black Devil Disco Club – “Eight Oh Eight

19. KLOQ – “Move Forward

20. Diafanes – “Obviously Clear”

Top 5 Recent SF Shows I Gave Up On

Here are five recent SF/Fantasy TV shows that I tried to like but gave up on (perhaps too soon in some cases):

  • Fringe – Admittedly I only watched the pilot, but that was enough for me: all the characters seemed to be stereotypes and the plot’s revelations were ludicrous and full of psych-babble. I was never a fan of The X-Files (for similar reason to Richard Dawkins) and this seemed to be re-treading far too similar territory.
  • Sanctuary – One or two good episodes at the start, this soon turned into a freak-of-the-week show. Also I could only take so much of Amanda Tapping’s accent.
  • Bionic Woman – Michelle Ryan wasn’t too bad in this, but the family life aspects felt forced and the action scenes weren’t very exciting.
  • Demons -Fantastic cast, but what an awful script. I found some of it quite funny, unfortunately usually during scenes that were supposed to be serious. This show ended up being even worse than Eleventh Hour, which takes some beating. If only they’d used Philip Glenister and Zoe Tapper (below) in a remake of Sapphire and Steel instead…
  • Merlin – A CBBC programme on at the wrong time: I’m too old for this.

Top 10 80’s Bands on Spotify

Here’s a quick check on 80s tunes and especially 80s British synthpop bands currently represented on Spotify:

  • Depeche Mode (11 albums, about 30 CD singles, live albums, best-ofs, compilations)
  • Yello (10 albums, 2 compilations)
  • OMD (10 albums, 4 compilations including the excellent Peel Sessions 1979-1983)
  • Ultravox (8 albums, 7 compilations including Rare volumes 1 & 2)
  • Human League (9 albums (including the Fascination EP and the recently released remaster of The Golden Hour of the Future), 5 compilations)
  • New Order (7 albums, 5 compilations, 6 CD singles)
  • Soft Cell (6 albums, 3 compilations)
  • Fad Gadget (4 albums, 2 compilations, and the entire Mute Audio Documents series)
  • Yazoo (everything they ever released. Yep, double-checked: everything. Unfortunatley that isn’t very much)
  • The Associates (2 albums, 1 compilation)

As for current music, well it’s not so good for me: out my Top 20 Albums of 2008, Spotify only has a measly two of them (The Presets and Zeigeist).

Music Streaming Services: A Comparison

I’ve been looking for the perfect music streamer ever since I got my G1 Android phone and decided that carrying a smartphone and an MP3 player into the shower was just excess baggage.

I love my music: at home I have about 200GB of MP3s and a few hundred CDs (not forgetting the boxes of vinyl now in the loft). On the move, I used to take my 30GB MP3 player to listen to at work and on my 30-min walk home every day. I listen to a large range of bands and styles and so like to have access to as much of this as possible when out and about; none of yer 1GB Walkman phone or 8GB ipod nano nonsense for me.

I’ve spent the past week or so comparing the merits of several music streaming services. I tried out:

  • Last.fm – my first choice as I’ve been using for a couple of years now so have it trained well. Last.fm knows what I like and ever since it started streaming full tracks it’s been one of my favourite websites (see previous posts on its Android app and Fire.fm Firefox plugin).
  • MySpace – again, I’ve been on MySpace for a few years now so have a large number of “friends” (i.e. bands I like but aren’t every likely to meet in person). The MySpace player has improved considerably over the years and is no longer limited to 4 songs only.
  • imeem – I hadn’t tried this before getting the G1 but it had its own Android app
  • Orb – a little different from the rest, Orb is basically a media streamer that streams your existing mp3 collection via a website.
  • Spotify – dubbed the “itunes killer” this is service that’s currently in all the news stories. It’s still in beta, and you need to be located in the UK (or other parts of Europe), but this does seem like it could be the perfect music streamer.

Here’s my summary of these five streaming services, comparing them on a range of features that were important to me (e.g. will it stream to my Android phone, will it scrobble tracks to Last.fm etc.):

As you can see, there’s no clear winner; indeed, only imeem fails to cut the mustard. So which one will I use?

imeem did not impress me much. The Android app was fine, but its network of related artists was poor (at least it was for the styles I like – synthpop, electro, trance) and there were many artists I tried but wheren’t found. The Android community seem to love imeem so perhaps I missed some key feature.

MySpace is still the place to go to hear about what your favourite bands are up to, and the sheer number of artists on there is almost overwhelming. But there’s no app for Android (the MySpace app in the Android Market doesn’t stream the tunes so it doesn’t count here) and the number of tracks available from any one band is still restricted. Also I consider MySpace almost NSFW as some band’s pages are just way too bloated and loaded with dodgy imagery (or maybe I should just listen to less Industrial and goth music).

Orb was almost the perfect app, with its ability to stream my entire music collection to wherever I happened to be. But I found it flakey: some days it would stream to my Windows Media Player at work fine, other days it refused and would only stream to Winamp. I tried it many times on my G1: in theory it should have worked fine, but the success rate was infuriatingly low. Whether this was due to my upstream or the Orb server or my 3G downstream to my phone, I don’t know. Of course to use Orb I had to leave my PC on all the time which may be another disadvantage if I plan to be away for some time. Orb doesn’t scrobble either, and album art didn’t work at all in Winamp. Despite all these negatives, I have been using Orb quite a bit: it can play my entire collection after all.

Last.fm changed my life a while ago and the recent release of an official Android app has only increased my loyality. I can fire it up in the morning, select a tag or artist station, then spend hours happily enjoying tracks from its huge range of artists. For the shuffle generation, Last.fm is the perfect music streaming service. But if you only want to hear one artist, or you want to listen to an album from start to finish, then you’re out of luck.

is certainly revolutionary and being able to play full albums in the way the artists intended is a killer feature. It removes the need to “own” music in the traditional sense and could see the end of download mp3s and ripping CDs. But its range of content is currently rather limited, there’s no Android app (i.e. this is for when I’m at work, not walking home) and although infrequent, the commercials do become annoying after a while. They want £10 a month for the commercial-free version. Perhaps not just yet, but once the content fills up I could well see myself upgrading.

Current Favourite Google Android Apps

Google Android’s Market is currently free, so here’s what I’ve grabbed and rate:

5 apps to impress my friends with:

  • ShopSavvy – scan a bar code (e.g. scan a book or CD or a game), displays item details, links to cheapest price on the ‘net, links to maps to show you the closest shop that’s selling it. Friends go “Ooooh that’s clever!”
  • Shazam -Hold the phone up to some music playing on the radio or a TV commercial, tells you what the song is, the artist, links to their MySpace page and mp3 downloads.
  • Wikitude -View scenery/buildings through the camera, see data about what you’re looking at overlaid on the live image. It’s true augmented reality, like looking through the eyes of the Terminator (except without the “TERMINATE” directives).
  • SkyMap -Point the phone at the sky and this app tells you name of the constellations, stars and celestial bodies as you look at them.
  • Movie Finder -Use GPS to tell you what movies are showing near you, lists the show times, links to imdb.

My current most used Apps:

  • aLastFMStreams unlimited free music from Last.fm. Clean and simple UI, lets you tune to a station based on artist, tag, recommendations etc. Vastly more tracks that the similar imeem service.
  • LocaleSets the phone depending on where (and when) you are. You set this up once and forget about it. I have an “At Work” situation that switches the phone to vibrate and an “At home sleeping” situation that disables sound and vibrate when I’m sleeping.
  • aTrackDogI expect this functionality will make its way into Android proper, but for now I run this once every few days to check whether there are any updates to my installed apps.