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For once, a product that actually can change your life
Member Name: TheTallGuyUK
Advantages: Like a giant jukebox with most tracks past and present that I would ever want to hear
Disadvantages: It's £10 a month - though as my primary source of music, I think that's acceptable.
Spotify is, to me, is a product which has genuinely changed the way I listen to music and for the better. Having used the Free account for a year or so, I upgraded to the Premium service last December, mainly because I had bought an iPod Touch and wanted to use Spotify on there. So this review is primarily about the premium service.
So there are a couple of ways you can use Spotify. Originally, when using the Free account, I mainly used it to try out new music, and to listen to music when I happened to be using my PC. If I really liked an album after listening to it a few times, I might then buy it. This was really useful as it enabled me to try before I bought, meaning no longer would I need to buy albums that just weren't good enough. Alternatively, I could use it to cherry-pick a couple of good tracks from an otherwise naff attempt.
The Premium account is the best part of £10 a month and involved a shift of mindset. Until I bought the iPod Touch, this monthly cost never seemed worthwhile to me as I could only listen to Spotify on my computer, when actually I listen to music far more in the car or when out running etc. But Premium users can download an app for the iPod touch (or iPhone or Android phone and also a limited number of BlackBerry devices) allowing you to stream music through that device over WiFi. It also allows you to store up to around 3,000 streamed tunes on the device at any one time (as well as any tracks you actually own), which means I can store playlists to listen to in the car when I'm not connected to WiFi.
For me this is great. It means that I can listen to any music I like (so long as it's on Spotify - see below) wherever I have my iPod, for £10 a month. This does involve a change in mindset. I've always liked to "own" music before, but if £10/month is affordable (and I'd have easily spent that on buying MP3s before) then it makes sense. So now, I effectively pay a monthly fee which allows me to listen to almost any track I want.
So on to track availability. Not everything is on Spotify. But most things are, and I've rarely got annoyed at not being able to find what I want. I'd say a good 90%+ of whatever is in the charts at any one time is on there, as well as decades of back catalogue stuff. Some music is withheld for a couple of weeks after release - the last Coldplay album took a while to appear and there are notable absences such as most of Adele's stuff or The Beatles. But if you like the Beatles you probably own the best of their back catalogue anyway and you can import MP3s you own into Spotify and therefore include tracks in playlists.
Playlists are easily created by dragging tracks into folders on the desktop app, whilst the iPod app is equally intuitive. Playlists can also be shared with others (if you want to make them public) so if you want to hear a collection of 1970s rock songs, chances are that someone has already created a good collection for you. This listening to other people's playlists can be addictive and is a great way of discovering new music.
More recently, Spotify has introduced various Apps within the desktop version - I haven't used many of these so can't comment much, but for example The Guardian newspaper has a music review app where you can listen to tracks whilst reading their review. Useful stuff.
Finally, I also like the fact that Spotify seems to be always innovating. Both the iPod and desktop versions are constantly being updated with new features, many of which are actually useful (compare and contrast Apple's iTunes app which hasn't added anything genuinely useful in around 5 years as far as I can see!)
My favourite recent innovation on the iPod app is crossfading between tracks, so that they blend into each other like on the radio. And that's something I've wanted my MP3s on my old iPod to do for years but Apple never found a way to do it. Fortunately Spotify have, and it sounds great.
Summary: A great, revolutionary product which is always innovating.