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Simply the Best
Member Name: PureDark
Advantages: The ultimate music service
Disadvantages: No Cloud storage
I wasn't going to write this today but then I noticed it would be my 50th review and that's a milestone worth getting to. Spotify needs no introduction but I'm going to give it one anyway. Here it comes.
Spotify is a cross platform music service which enables you to stream music for free. It also offers enhanced functionality for it's premium subscribers (I'm one of them). To use Spotify you'll need to visit the website and download the Spotify client program which suits your operating system. Currently Spotify is available for Windows and OS X with a beta version available for Linux although it apparently runs fine under Wine. You'll need a Spotify account too, this dictates what features are available to you depending on your subscription (free, unlimited or premium). I'll give you the low down of what you can do with a free account and then delve into the unlimited and premium subscriptions extra features later.
Spotify Open is the name of the free service and it really now serves as a taster for the more premium services. It used to offer unlimited ad-supported streaming but now imposes a few restrictions to try and entice you to subscribe. The Spotify catalogue consists of over 13 million tracks and is constantly expanding as new albums are released. Upon joining Spotify you are awarded with 20 hours of listening time. This then gets expanded by 5 hours a week which rolls over up to a maximum of 20 hours in total. After 6 months you'll be limited further however. The maximum time becomes 10 hours and the increase will be a mere 2.5 hours a week. Additionally you'll only be able to listen to an individual track 5 times in total. On the Open plan, music will be interspersed with various audio advertisements. This happens between songs not during so it doesn't really get in the way too much. Bit of a shame if you're listening to a concept album though or you're trying to set any kind of mood. Another strange limitation of the free service is that you can only use it abroad for 14 days whereas Unlimited and Premium don't discriminate against where you are.
So that's the bad stuff out of the way. Spotify enables you to create playlists of your favourite music which you can save and then share with your friends. You can do this by linking your Spotify account with your Facebook account. Once you've done this, all of your friends who have done the same can be displayed in a menu bar to the right of the interface. If you click on a name you can see their playlists too. You can send them tracks and playlists which will appear in their inbox too. It works really well and I have a great time sharing tracks between friends. Since it's aim is to become your number one music solution, you can also import your local tracks into Spotify to play along with your streamed tracks.
If you're looking to find new music then Spotify can help. When you search for an artist you can either choose the 'Artist radio' tab or the 'Related artist' tab. Artist radio will play some songs from your chosen artists and mix in some tracks that other people who have listened to that artist have also listened to. It works pretty well but I find that it plays a lot of tracks that aren't to my tastes. The related artists tab is much better, it displays those other artists in a grid for you to take a look at the artists's biography etc and listen to their tracks. I've found many new bands that I'd not heard of before by using this feature.
Spotify Unlimited offers pretty much the same functionality as Open but you can listen to as much as you want and without advertisements (and the whole abroad thing I mentioned earlier). That's pretty much all there is to it. It incurs are monthly fee currently set at £4.99. Not bad if you always have an internet connection.
Now the Premium service is where Spotify really shines. OK it's £9.99 a month but hear me out, this is some serious value. You get all the functionality of an Unlimited subscription for starters. With a Premium subscription you get to save your music for offline listening. So even if you have no internet connection you can save your favourite playlists and not have to worry about a journey without internet. What? you don't want to have to take your PC or Laptop with you on long journeys? Hmm OK well luckily you can also use Spotify Premium on your mobile smartphone or tablet (Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone and Palm Devices). This is why I pay for it. I can have whatever music I want and synch it offline to my phone (which I've also reviewed it's a HTC Desire and it's awesome if you want to check out that) for my listening pleasure. You can have a maximum of 3,333 tracks synched offline at a time and on a maximum of 3 different devices at one time. That's a lot of music. What's cool is that you can edit your playlists on the fly and when you're sat at one device, they will synch to the rest of them too. £9.99 a month for over 13 million tracks? Yeah please. I know you could always illegally download your music but to be honest that isn't half as convenient as Spotify is. I don't use this feature because I'm too poor but if you have a Sonos home system or an Onkyo cinema receiver you can also use your Premium Spotify streaming on those which adds even more value to the service.
The only thing that Spotify needs to dominate the world is cloud storage. It would be better if you could synch your local files to an online server and then be able to stream those from wherever you are but to be honest that's just me being me. I think they'll probably add that in at some point anyway.
I believe Spotify to be the number one music service in the world today. If there is something better out there then please comment and tell me about it because I'd love to see it. That's it, the end of my 50th review ever. Thanks for reading.
Summary: Totally worth the investment. I would stop eating before I cancelled my subscription