Yesterday Spotify launched their online music streaming service in Australia and so far I am loving it!
I am currently using the free service which sees banner ads inside the application and the occasional audio ad – similar to a radio advert. The free service has an initial six month period during which you can stream an unlimited amount of music. After six months users are limited to 2.5 hours of music per week. There are two levels of paid service, the cheapest removes the ads and offers unlimited streaming, the more expensive option allows offline streaming and streaming on mobile devices.
So far I am most impressed by the catalogue of music available on Spotify. My music tastes are fairly unique, mainly being alternative Christian rock with the occasional mainstream pop/rock/dance track thrown in. Generally this means music availability is very hit and miss but so far Spotify has far exceeded my expectations. There is older NZ music from Mumsdollar, Solace, and Eight on the site, none of which I expected to find. There is also most of the general North American CCM bands there as well. The notable exception is the new independent release from Thousand Foot Krutch (but their back catalogue is there) and Manafest’s latest release (BEC Recordings).
I have installed the Spotify client on both Ubuntu 12.04 and Windows 7. The linux client is a little buggy and has crashed a few times but generally works well. The Windows client worked without any issues – and even imported my local iTunes libary. Under Windows I was monitoring my data usage and Spotify used about 100mb/hour of music, I have also never experienced any problems with streaming or buffering under either OS. The quality of the music is acceptable through headphones and a PC surround sound system – the premium paid service provides higher bitrate audio.
Overall I am very impressed by the service offered – particularly for free! Some commentators are claiming that the service will replace iTunes. However, I see the two services as complementary. I like having proper copies of my music, and I have no issues paying to download music. I also wonder if I will use the service enough that in six months time I will get a paid service. At the moment I am listening through albums I have considered buying but never have, and the service is good for sampling new music but generally I like the music I already own – that is why I own it!