Spotify and Pandora

Update 2018 Jul 11 

If you wait long enough lots of things happen. I revisited Spotify a couple of months ago and it’s improved enough that I’m actually paying the $10 a month for the premium version. What’s changed?

Even more zillions of tracks. Want to dig into regional 60s psychedelia? You can spend the rest of your life exploring there.

I didn’t think I’d punt Pandora but at the present Spotify has the edge.

I thought I’d hit the jackpot since Spotify Premium touts a download facility which allows you to keep tracks on your devices that aren’t network-connected. Well, yes and no: it downloads an encrypted file which you can only then play on devices that have a Spotify player. So it’s useless on my FiiO media player, for instance. I think it’s false advertising, since claiming you have download privileges but can only download an encrypted file seems like a lie to me.

Incidentally, check out the more incredible every noise at once website. This is apparently managed by one of the Spotify engineers and has a gigantic map of every genre that Spotify identifies, with a sample for almost every one. By pinning down the genre of your favorite artists, the theory is that you can find similar acts. It actually works quite well.

So I enter “Carbon Based Lifeforms”, one of my current cool discoveries, and I find out they’re classified as “psychill, downtempo, psychedelic trance, ambient, electronic”. Yup, I’d buy that. So I click on the psychill link and a page comes up with a big cloud of similar acts, some of whom I do know and like such as Eat Static and Shpongle, and some I have not heard of, life H.U.V.A. Network, Desert Dwellers and AES DANA. So…time to explore.

The free version will get you roped in, but at some point those ads are going to either drive you away or drive you to the paid version.

Update 2011 Nov 18

(This is old now, but I’m just going to keep it here to maintain perspective.)

I still had the free Spotify account. So this is supposed to be the future of streaming music? Well, let’s give it another spin.

I sign in and the first thing it wants to do is connect me with Facebook. Besides the fact I quit that service, I can’t understand why I should care what other people are listening to. Why on earth should I want to do that? Furthermore, why should anyone care what I’m listening to? Is this really such a big deal to people?

So I skip that screen. I say to myself, let’s listen to some Ozric Tentacles…one of my all time favorite bands. Search the name, wow, quite a few tracks and albums show up. Impressive. Wait a minute, “Epicus Doomicus Metallicus” is not an Ozrics album! Yup, they have a Candlemass album (which happens to be a metal act I do love) listed as an Ozrics album. I submit a problem report.

Finally the song ends, what’s it, 4 minutes? A chirpy female voice comes on with some kind of long message about scrobbling. I don’t care about scrobbling, but I can’t listen to anything else until that message ends.

Spotify? You have got to be kidding. I’m so out of here. Premium service is better, you say? Well, then I’ll go back to Pandora. I would like to be able to specifically choose albums and songs, but not that badly.

Original post

I got an invite to sign up with Spotify this week. I’ve been hearing all this buzz about it, so why not?

It has a lot of tracks. Not everything but a lot. It’s nice being able to hear tracks from artists I’ve heard about for free.

Naturally being ad-supported, the free version has limitations.

It will only sync up the tracks on your local machine with an iPod. It might not work with generic mp3 players, but it any case I don’t care.

You can’t download the streaming tracks. Not too surprising.

You can queue up tracks.

However, after 10 minutes or so of listening it plays commercials. You can’t fool the commercials by muting or even turning the volume down low; the timer stops until you raise the volume. That’s mega annoying.

For my kind of listening Pandora was much better. It now has a big enough library that you get a good variety of new tracks once you set up a station.

I suppose Spotify is better if you know pretty much exactly the artist/album/tracks you want to hear, Pandora if you want to find out about new things (I stumbled upon Animals as Leaders, set a new channel up with that and have already learned about a dozen incredible new post-rock outfits.)

last modified 18 Nov 2011