It’s very likely that the next generation will never buy a CD or even ‘own’ music by paying to download it to a computer, iPod, or smartphone. Instead they’ll be using the ‘Cloud’ to stream music to multiple devices, and no longer have to worry about clogging up their hard drives with their favourite tunes.
But, why wait for the future, you can do it all now…
There are more and more music streaming services becoming available – Rdio, Deezer, JB Hi-Fi Now, Sony Music Unlimited and Microsoft’s Zune Pass. However, there’s one new entry that’s been getting a lot of attention lately.
Spotify is the world’s biggest music streaming service. It’s been available in Europe for the last four years, and just recently the USA, now it has reached Australia. Spotify has one advantage over the others – it’s free on your desktop computer.
Spotify allows you to stream 10 hours of music for free each month from a library of over 16 million tracks. You have to put up with about 3-4 minutes of ads each hour, but if they are too annoying you can pay $6.99 a month for an ad-free unlimited membership.
How do you get Spotify?
Go to www.spotify.com and sign up. You need to enter your country, and then click ‘Log in to Facebook’. Add your Facebook email address and password, and register. Spotify is then downloaded to your computer. Once downloaded, login, and you can click on ‘I’m new to Spotify’ for a guided tour. You’ll be given the option to link your account to Facebook, which you’ll need to do if you want to use Spotify’s social features (more about that below).
Once you’ve set up your Spotify account you can download it to as many computers as you like and because your music is stored in the ‘cloud’ you’ll have access to it as soon as you log-in.
How do you get music?
The first screen you’ll see is the ‘What’s New’ page. Here you’ll see recommended albums, top playlists, and new releases. 123 Top Lists will show you the top 100 tracks and albums in Australia (or whichever country you prefer by clicking on the arrow next to Australia).
Spotify uses playlists to organise your music, so the first step is to create a new playlist – just click New Playlist and give it a name. If you know what you want to listen to you can type the tune’s title in the search bar at the top of the Spotify window. When you find the track you’re after just click and drag it to your playlist (or right-click the track and select the action you want from the pop-up menu). You can create as many playlists as you like, add tracks to existing playlists, and easily rearrange your playlists.
To start listening to your music just click on one of your playlists and it will appear in Spotify’s main window. Double click on the first track and it will start playing.
Spotify will also display any music from your computer as well – from CDs you’ve added and those you’ve purchased through iTunes or other music sites.
If you secretly see yourself as a DJ you’ll love some of Spotify’s special features. Gapless playback means that one track merges seamlessly into the next with no gaps. Crossfading means that similar sounding tracks are layered over each other so you barely notice the transition from one to the next. You’ll need to make sure you choose the right tracks with a similar sound and tempo. You can activate these features by clicking Edit, then Preferences and selecting the appropriate box.
What if you feel like some new music? Spotify’s Radio feature creates a list of tracks that are similar to one you select. If you like a track that’s playing right-click its name and select ‘Start Radio’ and Spotify will create a ‘radio station’ based on that song. Spotify keeps a list of previous radio stations you’ve created so you can go back and play them again if you like. Radio is only available if you have a premium membership.
Spotify also has apps you can install, like Triple J (for their hottest 100 lists), and TuneWiki (if you want to view synchronised lyrics for a song you’re playing).
If you choose to link Facebook to your Spotify account you’ll be able to see the playlists of your Facebook friends who also have Spotify, and you’ll see an option to subscribe, which means that playlist is added to your list of playlists on Spotify.
You can recommend songs to your Facebook and Twitter friends by choosing to send a link by email; or if they are also on Spotify you can ‘share’ a track with them, which publishes the link on your profile.
When you first sign-up to Spotify you’ll get 30 days free access to the premium membership, which gives you added features like ad-free unlimited playbacks, offline access to your playlists, better sound quality and access to Spotify on your iPhone, iPad, Android or Windows phone or tablet. If you love the premium account, once the 30 days is over you pay $11.99 per month.
Have you tried Spotify yet - I'd love to know what you think of it.