App Attack: Spotify is good, but it’s not the best
At the beginning of this month I wrote an article about the differences between Rdio, Rhapsody, Naptser and MOG, and weighed in why I thought Rdio was the best music subscription service available at the time. Last Thursday, Spotify finally opened it’s doors in the U.S. and I was lucky enough to get an invite code on day one. After spending some time with Spotify since then, I can confidently say that in the battle of music streaming service supremacy, it most definitely is not the victor.
If you were to ask all Spotify users why they love the service so much, the vast majority would most assuredly say, “it’s free”. Spotify gives you access to 15 million songs for free, which is nothing short of amazing. In addition, Spotify offers a Ultimate package for $5 a month, which removes the annoying ads found in the desktop apps. If you want to stream music on a mobile app, it’ll cost you $10 a month (same price as Rdio, Rhapsody, Napster and MOG).
So, let’s say you don’t care about ads or streaming to a mobile app, you just want free music you can listen to on an unlimited basis. Well then, Spotify is the way to go… for six months. After the six month mark, you will only be able to stream music for ten hours per month and you may only stream a specific track five times in total.
The Spotify desktop app (available on both Windows and OS X) has a few nice features, but ultimately is very plain. The standout feature is the ability to sync music (saved on your computer or from the Spotify library) wirelessly to your iPhone or Android device. Essentially, you can forgo paying $10 a month to stream music to the mobile app, and store your desired music on your phone for free. If you decide to take advantage of this feature, make sure your phone is plugged into a charger, as syncing can take quite awhile.
While the desktop app may be functional, but lacking, the Spotify mobile apps will leave you wanting a lot more. In terms of features and function, the Spotify app is nothing less than garbage. Upon firing up the app and signing in, you’re greeted by a playlist menu. From here you can access your synced music or starred tracks (available for Premium subscribers only). Tracks and playlists are simply displayed in lists, so if you have 800 starred tracks, you’ll have a lot of scrolling to do to get to the bottom.There’s also “What’s New” tab that will list new releases and a “News Feed” with information about Spotify. You can access a currently playing track by tapping a “Now Playing” button in the top right corner, which is displayed no matter where you are in the app; however, you better not need to see a list of the songs that are on deck, because that feature is sorely missing. That’s right, the Spotify app is essentially an upscale iPod Shuffle. I’m not sure what Spotify’s reason was for releasing such a terrible app, but it’s got a long way to go to catch up to the competition.
There are a few things to love about Spotfiy, but don’t kid your into thinking that the lack of a price tag isn’t the main reason for its success. If I wasn’t already smitten with Rdio’s service and app, I’d definitely use Spotify to stream music while at work or at home via my PC. But as it stands, I’m more than happy to pay $10 a month for a service that offers a much better user end experience, even though it has a much smaller library (roughly 6 million tracks less than Spotify).