Tone Deaf’s Guide To Streaming Services
Intro: This Swedish streaming service is the Goliath of the industry. Through clever marketing and social media integration, it has quickly asserted itself as the market leader. Since launching in here in late May, it’s quickly asserted its domination in Australia as well. Now available in 16 countries and used by over 16 million people, Spotify is the mainstream king of streaming services.
Music Library – 4/5: With over 16 million tracks, Spotify has the largest collection with few holes. From newer music released in the past decade as well as a host of classics, it even caters to the more obscure and out-there music enthusiast. It can still be slow to upload music from some of the lesser-known acts and further genre limits though. Although it still hasn’t been able to lure the big catches (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Metallica) yet to join the streaming revolution. Spotify has cleverly partnered up with Australian artists, not only to give away premium passes, but by giving exclusive streams of their music before it’s released or available anywhere else.
Design – 3/5: It’s just like iTunes, but with a darker shade of grey – and a bit more advertising of course. A bit of paint and a swish new reno job wouldn’t hurt. You get to see what your Facebook friends are listening to on the sidebar, which is handy if you want to uncover any closet One Direction fans. The integrated apps, menus and playlists are all lined up on the left hand side (just like iTunes), while an image of what you’re currently playing is dotted in the bottom left hand side.
Functionality- 5/5: Unlike most other streaming services, Spotify requires you to download a program, while the rest function through your internet browser. In this way the service not only tackles the streaming industry, but also the mega giant that is the Apple company. Spotify integrates your own personal music library as well, so you can successfully bypass using ITunes ever again – if that is your wish. There are also apps to take advantage of too. Both the Triple J and We Are Hunted apps provide a great way to discover new music, while Pitchfork and The Guardian allow you to access their reviews. There’s also the recently introduced Artist Series apps from Quincy Jones, Tiësto, Rancid and Disturbed, catering specific genres with more to come. Other than that, it’s easy as pie to use. Even your Grandma has a pretty good chance of using this one. She’ll be swinging to Sinatra in no time… as long as she’s got Facebook…
Price – 4/5: Spotify has three available packages for the music conscious consumers. Free, which is basically for those too tight to pay, but still want to pat themselves on the back at the end of the day for not illegally downloading tunes. You get the music and that’s it. Don’t be greedy. ‘Unlimited’ is $7 a month (sorry $6.99), you get to bypass the Richard Wilkins ads, and all other commercials. Phew. You also get Spotify Radio mode, where they play other artists from similar genres to what you’ve already been listening too. Lastly there’s ‘Premium’ which at 11.99 a month gets you all of the above and a little more. It allows access from your mobile, Ipad, and other wireless music systems with exclusive content . But what stands out most about Spotify’s premium service, is that you get to sync playlists to your mobile and desktop computer so that you can listen to your favourite tunes without causing a plane to crash, they call it the ‘Offline Mode’. Take a deep breath, your fear of flying should have now eased.
Limitations: If seeing what everyone else is listening to via your Facebook feed hasn’t got you down (you can turn your own visibility off), the only annoyance of using Spotify are those pesky little ads (do I need to mention Richard Wilkins again?). But then again, you could stop being such a tight arse and pay a little, if it really bothered you that much.
The edge: Spotify is the only streaming service which has a free version. All other services have limited trial versions, but undoubtedly its biggest drawcard is that no matter how strapped for cash you are, you can legally stream music for free from a pretty impressive music library. Marketing wise, Spotify has all but ensured its mega status in the streaming world with its integration of fellow digi-giants Facebook and Apple. You can share your playlists with friends, subscribe to others and even show everyone how much you’ve been enjoying the new Bieber album.
The verdict: 4/5