Screencast Review: Spotify

The popularity of online music streaming services has rocketed in recent years, as bandwidth costs decrease and record labels begin to understand the benefits of online music. Today I’ll be taking a look at Spotify – a relatively new, and excellently designed, music streaming application for OS X.

This is our first screencast review, and something we may do more of in the future (if you like it!) Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Spotify Review Transcript

Introduction

Hi, I’m David Appleyard and welcome to the first episode in our new screencast review series.

Today I’ll be taking a look at Spotify, an application that is rapidly rising to huge popularity in Europe for streaming music over the Internet. It’s currently only available in the UK, France, Spain and Scandinavia, but speculation seems to suggest that it will be coming to the states at some point in the near future.

Spotify comes in two flavors. You can either use the free, advertising supported version, or pay around £10 per month (around $16) for a premium version. At present, the free version is only available for those in the UK.

Artist Pages

After you’ve created an account with Spotify, it’s just a case of opening the application and logging in. You’ll be presented with a mix of new albums, and can also flick across to see a number of top lists of tracks, artists and albums in various countries.

The sheer range and variety of music on Spotify is impressive – let’s try a couple of different searches. Searching for “coldplay” will bring up a list of all the matching songs ordered by popularity. Everything can be clicked to view information about a particular artist or album, so clicking ‘Coldplay’ will take me to their artist page. I really like the design of the artist information, which offers immediate access to their most popular songs.

I can also view related information, such as a detailed biography of the artist, or a “radio playlist” consisting of songs from similar artists. Double clicking a track starts playback straight away.

Software Features

All the traditional controls you’d expect in a music player are available, such as play/pause, skipping tracks, and shuffle/repeat.

When browsing a list of tracks, you can either play one immediately, queue it to play next, or add it to a playlist. Playlists work as you’d expect, simply storing a list of tracks.

Playlists & Radio

An innovative feature is the ability to subscribe to a collaborative playlist – here are a couple recently shared by Dan Counsell of RealMac software (the guys behind LittleSnapper and RapidWeaver). You can make a playlist collaborative and share it through a simple right-click option.

A feature definitely worth pointing out is Spotify Radio, which can generate a playlist based upon a particular era and selection of genres. The interface used to achieve this works really well, and it’s a fun way to quickly get started finding new music.

Searching

It’s possible to search in a slightly more advanced fashion, narrowing results to a particular genre, date range or artist. It’s done using the syntax of: genre:Trip-hop, year:1979-1982.

Preferences

In closing, we’ll take a quick look at the preferences for Spotify, which are laid out in a really unusual way… You can alter where Spotify caches the music you listen to (and specify how much room it occupies), enter Proxy settings, scrobble directly to Last.fm, and adjust a few sound and playlist settings. Minimal configuration, but it’s what you’d expect from an application that just “works” as Spotify does.

Conclusion

As you can see, Spotify really brings music to a new level. With the huge catalog of music, fast, reliable streaming, and uncluttered interface, I’m fast becoming a huge fan of Spotify. It’s already replaced iTunes as my music player of choice, though I still use Apple’s player for movies, TV shows, and (obviously) for managing my iPhone.

Spotify is definitely worth downloading if you’re based in one of the supported countries, or, if it’s not yet available, keeping an eye out for. We will be sure to let you know as Spotify becomes available in more countries.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed out first screencast review. If you have any thoughts or questions about Spotify, please feel free to let me know in the comments. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you again soon!


  • http://www.macafarian.com Justin

    Spotify looks great, I hope it comes to the U.S soon!

  • Barry Wiseman

    Well done David! Looking forward to more Screencast reviews!! Looking forward to Spotify coming to the US sometime soon…

  • elmuymac

    “…At present, the free version is only available for those in the UK”:

    FALSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Official site says (in the FAQ section):

    “What countries is Spotify available in?
    Spotify is currently available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, France and Spain. We hope to launch in more countries in the future.”

    Thats applies for FREE & PREMIUM.

    Please correct your post.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Hi. Thanks for the comment – It’s only possible to use the free version outside the UK with an invite:

      “The advertising-funded version of Spotify is free of charge, however, for now it requires that you receive an invite to register unless you are in the UK.”

      (http://www.spotify.com/en/help/faq/)

      • elmuymac

        Thanks David for listen to me. Well, I live in Spain but I don´t know how Spotify let me make a registration without invitation, I think that i can do that cause Spotify was a “baby” with a few songs and a bored catalog, now is a huge catalog, and thats true in the up bar of my app says: “you have 10 invitations…”. Sorry for my english and congratulation for an EXCELENT site, very very hepful and simple to understand.

  • http://tyylitiedosto.fi jax2000

    Spotify is amazing. I’m very happy with it. It’s fun to share links and playlists with friends and I haven’t downloaded illegal mp3s after I installed spotify.

    • matthew l

      except for when you put stuff on your ipod lol

      • Andreas L

        With the Spotify Iphone client, it’s possible to mark files to download into the cache for “offline” listening. Abot 3300 songs can be saved that way. No need for any mp3′s.

  • http://www.twitter.com/secondfret Joshua Johnson

    Love the video review David! Good stuff.

  • http://vasili.duove.com/ Vasili

    I didn’t really see the point to Spotify before this screencast, but now I’m really excited! :D

    Also, the screencast was very nice. Just the right length, informative, and interesting. I can’t wait for more of them! :)

  • Ryan

    Very happy to see that you’re considering doing Screencasts. Suggestion – maybe you could do a Screencast about different Screencasting tools ie: Screen Jelly.

    Anyways….looking forward to seeing more. Love your site…..great look and feel AND content!

  • http://twitter.com/iTomath Thomas Furlonger

    Great video review, look forward to seeing more.

    I’ve been using Spotify for quite some time now, I like it a lot. I mainly use it for searching and listening to music by bands I just found out about to see if they’re any good.. and if I like them I download their music.

    It doesn’t beat having and owning the music on my HDD.

  • http://www.cuby.co.nr Henry Bennett

    Excellent review! The screencast was great, and I liked how you had the transcript below it for those with slow internet connections or low data bandwidth.

    Just a shame its not available in New Zealand at the moment.

  • http://labs.dariux.com Dario Gutierrez

    Excellent review! I will try to use this app. Thnaks!

  • Andrew D

    Sounds a lot like lala.com… its a web based application that once signed into plays any song found on the Internet, you can make playlists, find bands that are just emerging, and keep track of friends online.. worth checking out if you’re stuck in the u.s. waiting for spotify.

  • http://alfrescofurniture.info Rik

    will give it a whirl i’ve heard it somewhere before but never really checked it out. But i think i will now.
    thank you

  • DigitalMonkey

    Love it. Now I want more screencast. Great job David. Thank you.

  • George Smart

    cant see the video :(

  • http://pansentient.com Afront

    Nice review David! I write a blog called The Pansentient League which is all about Spotify and related apps and sites. You may be interested in this post about Apple Mac and iPhone Apps for Spotify:

    http://www.pansentient.com/2009/05/apple-mac-and-iphone-apps-for-spotify.html

    Cheers!

  • http://www.simpleleap.com/cram/mac.htm PatrickC

    Looks nice!

  • Tobias

    You need a pop filter to keep all those wet sounds from ending up in the recording.

  • DomArch

    $16 a month, $192 a year…more $ out during a recession? I’m already cutting my cable services and reducing my magazine subscriptions. Personally I’m just not a fan of the subscription model, why do I want to keep paying over and over for the songs that I’m listening to? I’m still old school – pay once and listen as often as you wish.

    All that said, it does look like a very nice service, and a nicely designed interface. The collaborative feature is a neat idea.

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  • Andreas L

    If you decide to pay some money and go premium, the sound quality will also double up.

    I’ve had Spotify since early beta, closing in on two years now, and honestly I haven’t downloaded more than 10 illegal mp3′s since. Spotify is faster, more accessible and in general just more fun to make me care about some files. It truly changes the way you think about your music.

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  • Robin

    Except for some obscure funk-jazz psychedelia that is not available, spotify is pure awesomeness!

    Greetings from Sweden ^^

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  • http://tobyadams.tk Toby Adams
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