Spotify is a unique streaming music service. It has an interface similar to iTunes, with shared playlist features like the now defunct MuxTape. Music is streamed for free a bit like Shoutcast. An occasional advert pops up, but you can pay a subscription of £9.99 a month or £99 a year to listen without interruption.
Unlike other streaming music applications, like internet radio, you can listen to any song in Spotify’s catalogue – and the selection is huge. Searching by artist, album, genre or date, Spotify returns results you can play back over your net connection there and then at 160 Kbps quality. The facility to buy songs is on the way but there’s no need when you can add tunes to playlists, accessing them as though they’re on your hard drive. It’s absolutely brilliant. And by the time you read this, it may well be gone.
We tested Spotify during its soft launch phase, with access strictly invitation only. Signing up was easy and less than a week after getting on the waiting list we were in, rediscovering albums and artists we’d lost to vinyl attrition and party pilfering.
Spotify say they’re adding 10,000 songs a day. With deals in place with the big record companies and independent labels, this seems plausible. Still, during our test phase the company was forced to remove several thousand tracks from the catalogue, including tunes by The Smiths and Pink Floyd. In a blog post they cited a delivery blunder – saying the songs shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
We hope this isn’t a sign of things to come because, allowed to grow, Spotify could be the iTunes killer that changes the way we pay for music.