Yesterday Spotify was the center of a great deal of buzz, and questions. The popular European music service finally made its way across the Atlantic to the US, and let me tell you this – I’m in love with it. I, like many, get bored of my music and want to listen to a variety of artists without feeling the need to purchase it. Spotify gives me that freedom. The service essentially lets you browse for any music. Search for a particular artist, track or album and listen to it within a few seconds.
Step 1: Signing up
The first step to using the service is signing up to one of the packages. There are three of them. The free package is only accessible via invitation from a current user. It offers basic online, ad-supported listening. The unlimited package offers unlimited streaming, again in online mode only for $4.99 per month. The premium is the big daddy of plans. It offers unlimited streaming, ad-free, offline listening, and access via the Android/iPhone apps. Once you’ve chosen a plan, you input your information and payment details and you’re ready to go.
Step 2: Download the Mac app
The Mac Spotify app is the hub of your streaming activities. From here you search for all your tracks, and it can quite happily replace the native iTunes app for syncing music and playlists. You can download the app here. (Windows app also available here.) Install the software then input your login details.
Once you’ve logged in, the fun begins. Search for literally any artist, and you’re almost guaranteed to find them. I searched for a few of my dad’s faves – stuff I can’t help but want to listen to once in a while. It not only comes up with the artist you requested, but also suggests others of a similar genre.
To play a track just double click it. To refine your search choose one of the options above the songlist. Clearly I was searching for Rush, so I select the artist name from the list. If you do want to purchase the songs you can, and even move them in to your iTunes library to be synced with your iPhone. The Mac app also allows you to create custom playlists and add songs to your queue. (Also connect to Facebook to check out what your friends are listening to.)
Step 3: Get your iPhone on it!
The third and most important step: download the Spotify iPhone app. It’s free and available in the iTunes App Store. (Link to app.) Once you’ve downloaded and launched it, your device will appear in the desktop software and give you the option to wirelessly sync playlists.
The app gives you the same basic functions as the desktop client and has multitasking support, allowing you to utilize the iPod controls. Search for songs, artists, albums and then play them by simply tapping on the album or song you want to hear.
In the settings menu you can select a number of options, including offline playing mode, and song quality. If you’re on an unlimited, or high download data plan you can also switch on 2G/3G streaming.
Also, when playing a track, if you hit the ‘i’ symbol in the top left corner you get a selection of other options. Options include adding to playlist, sharing the track or “starring” it.
Overall I’m impressed with the service, and as I’ve hinted at before I’d much rather pay the low subscription fee than have to pay to “own” an album on iTunes. This way I can listen to whatever I want, whenever I want and I get variety I like instead of the drivel that finds itself on to our popular radio stations.
Have any of you tried it out yet? What do you think?