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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!