Spotify @ Home

The social networks have been aglow with the news that Spotify has jumped the pond.  It is being hailed as the closest thing to the second coming of the musical messiah.  Indeed, some predict that Spotify will finally bring profitability to an otherwise flagging digital music market.

I don’t know about all of that.  I sure hope that Spotify will prompt people to listen to and purchase even more music.  What the world needs is a little more music and a whole lot less hostility.  And from my vantage point, I am glad to see the blokes back east sending us some of their social music love.

This spring, I’ve really focused 0n my streaming music experience.  Between Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music, I have been able to stream all of my music wherever I go.  I can access my library at home and at work.  I even played a bunch of wedding music as we set up the venue for Meredith’s wedding this past May.

And I’ve done a whole lot of cleanup of my digital library.  I’ve gone back and purchased a lot of music that I once had in other formats (including vinyl, eight-track and cassette tapes).  While I have chaffed at this since I did pay for the music once before, I have decided that I really want my favorite artists to see even more residuals from the music that they gave to me in my youth.

But that’s a different story.  I am writing this post to describe what I’ve seen in the most recent tool to hit the American digital music industry: Spotify.

When all of my friends gushed about being able to stream music to their phones, I just yawned as they waxed positively poetic about Spotify.  It sure sounded like it could do everything that I was already doing.  So when I finally got my Spotify invite last week, I looked long and hard at the mobile experience and the streaming experience.  And I quickly confirmed that Spotify wouldn’t offer me anything new in my streaming experience.  So I set Spotify aside for a couple of days.

I finally got back to evaluating Spotify late last night.  This time, I focused on the social music experience.  And I must admit that the social side of Spotify is positively beautiful.  You can scrobble to Last. fm.  And you can post to Twitter and Facebook.  I can’t wait until there is an interface for Goggle+.  But until then, I am happily impressed with the ability to share my thoughts on music that I listen to.

Nevertheless, I am fairly confident that the real lynch pin of Spotify’s long-term success is not its basic capabilities.  Rather, its success will be due to its ability to create and leverage music communities.  Indeed, its playlist sharing capabilities may well be the real reason that Spotify will flourish her in the United States.

I can easily find dozens of playlists for the kind of music that I listen to.  And I can easily find related music that is well worth checking out.  For example, I found a great site that has all kinds of Christian music playlists.  It is SpotifyforLife.    This site is dedicated to the very music that I want to listen to.  And it is stunningly simple to start listening to great mixes of favored and favorable music.  Finally, I can easily connect with other people that truly love the same kinds of music that I love.

As for the Spotify music tool itself, I am singularly unimpressed by the UI.  Don’t get me wrong.  The UI is crisp and clean.  But with dozens of good players already on the market, I can’t get too excited about the player experience.

So what is my summary assessment?

– Player and desktop experience = Acceptable
– Player and mobile experience = Underwhelming
– Streaming capabilities = Acceptable on the desktop but unacceptable (and expensive) on mobile devices
– Social capabiliies = Way above expectations – especially due to the incredibly active user communities that Spotify has spawned

I heartily recommend the free version of the tool.  However, I cannot recommend the premium versions because you can get a better streaming experience for free from other products.  But if you have become hooked on the social networking promises inherent in digital music, then you will be thrilled by this British import.

-Roo

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