Amid a wave of publicity, online music service Spotify launched in the US nearly one year ago. Since that time, if you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen ads for the service and status updates from your friends which show what they’ve been listening to. The service is a fantastic concept: it combines user-uploaded music into an ad or fee supported service which makes the record companies happy and let’s you find and play virtually any song instantly. For many music lovers, this is the perfect Internet jukebox; however, as I’d merely consider myself a burgeoning audiophile, I hadn’t been so quick to adopt the service until I found my personal best “use case” and started making the service work for me. As there are probably others out there like me, I thought I’d share how I discovered the magic of Spotify.
Unlimited Catalog of Music: Meh…
Initially, I found Spotify’s virtually unlimited catalog of music overwhelming. I didn’t know where to begin, and I wasn’t keen on using the service’s social features to allow my online friends to help. As a general rule, I’m introverted when it comes to my musical tastes and sensibilities. So, when I first started using Spotify, I might hop on, search for an artist or two, and listen to some songs before returning to my familiar iTunes song library and playlists.
Who’s that artist?
Corollary to the above, lately my wife and I have enjoyed listening to iTunes Radio on our Apple TV. There are hundreds (or thousands?) of stations across 25 different genres. In particular we enjoy listening to Sky.fm under the Ambient Relaxation genre. It’s great background music for the house. We sometimes leave it on our TV all day while our recent Photostream photos play as a slideshow.
We’ve been playing it long enough that their playlist is starting to get familiar, and the other day I thought to myself, “I like that song. I wonder who the composer is?” I stopped the slideshow in time to see the composer’s name, Patrick O’Hearn, and immediately I thought to check Spotify. Here’s what came up when I searched:
To my delight, Spotify had ten complete Patrick O’Hearn albums. I was able to select the song at the top of the list and hit “play” to hear them all. I had a new soundtrack for my work day.
Diving into Spotify
Now that I’d found one nice long “playlist”, Spotify quickly became my first choice for music whenever I was in the office. As I’ve used the service more, many of its features have become more familiar and useful to me:
- Playlists – These are obviously a staple of any music service; however, with Spotify I didn’t quite know where to begin. My first playlist was a selection of some of my Patrick O’Hearn favorites gleaned from his ten albums on Spotify. In addition, I’m working on a playlist for my wife when she joins the service (she has an even harder time than me finding and remembering music that she likes). Once she creates her account, I’ll be able to easily send her a playlist with selections I’ve made just for her.
- AirPlay via Spotify Mobile – I’ve installed Spotify on my iPhone, and now I’m able to stream music from my phone directly to our Apple TV. Now, anytime we think of a song we can usually find it on Spotify and have it playing on the TV in our family room. (NOTE: Spotify Mobile is available to premium subscribers only – $9.99/month.)
- Listen to what your friends listen to – Spotify is setup to allow easy sharing of playlists with your friends on the service. If you’re in to getting recommendations from friends, it’s easy to lookup a friend’s shared playlists and immediately start listening.
Now that I’ve finally “gotten” what Spotify is all about, it’s now my goto music service. It has awakened my innate desire for musical variety without putting much of a dent in my wallet (I’m currently enjoying one month of premium service for free, but I plan to stay a subscriber at $9.99/month). If you’re interested in joining the fun, check out their signup page. They offer a free ad-supported service that allows most of the functionality I’ve discussed above.
*Despite the glowing nature of this review, I’m in no way affiliated with Spotify. I just like their service.