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Spotify in the U.S. - What will be its impact and is it worth the price??
July 14, 2011 7:56 AM   Subscribe

"Two years after first announcing it, Spotify is finally coming to the US. The service will be launched later today, at 8 in the morning EST. The company has signed a deal with the fourth and final music label just hours before launch and the service will be virtually identical to the European one, except for the pricing which, while keeping the numbers, is switching pounds for dollars. "

"It's taken years of painful negotiations with the record labels, and there've been many false alarms, when it appeared the launch was imminent, only for it to be postponed again.

But this could be an important day for Spotify, for the digital music industry - and for the European technology scene."

"Spotify's free accounts are limited, though, to just 10 hours of music per month and only five repeats of a single track. Spotify reportedly plans to launch two pricing options (both of which are cheaper than Spotify's European plans): a $5 a month Unlimited subscription and a $10 a month Premium subscription. The paid subscriptions will lift the monthly limits and allow users to stream music from mobile devices."
posted by incandissonance (125 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's interesting that the website is clearly designed for people to sign up for the free plan and then upsell to the premium or unlimited. And it doesn't work particularly well when you can't sign up for the free plan, which is the case right now. The premium and unlimited links just go to signup pages with no description at all of what you are signing up for.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get what the free version does if it doesn't stream.
posted by diogenes at 8:04 AM on July 14, 2011


Is anybody rubbed the wrong way by the fact that the only thing necessary to launch one of these services is the blessing of the 4 biggest record labels?
posted by schmod at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The pound==dollar thing works even when exporting from the EU? My word, it really is blatant these days.
posted by jaduncan at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


(And by "blessing," I mean "to bribe")
posted by schmod at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2011


So I've been a Rhapsody subscriber for years, because it has worked with Sonos since way back in the day, and I've rarely if ever felt like Rhapsody was missing something. I tend to use it to listen to new stuff I'm not sure I'll like, and if I like it enough to want it on the iPod I'll buy it.

Is Spotify better enough to switch? Spotify premium is going to work on Sonos too. Does anyone have any meaningful comparison between the two, from actual experience with both?
posted by rusty at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2011


When my family in UK showed Spotify to me 2 years ago, I was flabbergasted, and couldn't wait till it came to the U.S.

But since then, Google, Amazon and Apple have all launched their cloud players/apps. So all of a sudden, I've got access to my entire music library anywhere. So I'm paying for what?
posted by adamms222 at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2011


Just in time! Moving in a few months to the US i was already thinking about what kind of crazy hoops i'd have to jump to keep paying for premium.

Just out of curiosity, any american mefites with an existing european account know if you just need to switch your account's country to the US to get into the limited free account thing?

As to whether it's worth the money, it certainly is for me, very small fee for a lot of music and very professional apps. I always disliked grooveshark for its crappy webapp and non-curated tagging mess. Spotify does seem to have a smaller catalog, though, due to grooveshark's arguably questionable practises.

Can't really compare to Pandora, Rdio and other options americans usually throw around since they're not available to me. The radio functions of Spotify do suck, but i get my music recommendations elsewhere, and the playlist ecosystem around it is fairly good (and you get collaborative playlists too).
posted by palbo at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2011


Looks to us like a lamer version of the legendary Spotify that sent canned-music fans in the US to on a quest to learn all about the wild world of web proxies. For streaming music we'll stick with Xiami,with surreal translation courtesy of Chrome.
posted by squalor at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get what the free version does if it doesn't stream.

It streams to OSX/Windows/Linux (via wine), but not Android/iOS/whatever other mobile stuff they do now.
posted by jaduncan at 8:06 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get what the free version does if it doesn't stream.

It streams. From your computer.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:07 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just don't cross them.
posted by panaceanot at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Just signed up, I'm empath75, add me by searching for 'spotify:user:empath75'
posted by empath at 8:08 AM on July 14, 2011


I have some invites btw, memail me your email address if you want one.
posted by palbo at 8:09 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


And when do we get a spotify button for our profiles? ;-)
spotify:user:quuxbaz here
posted by palbo at 8:10 AM on July 14, 2011


DRM *and* streaming?

Finally, a way for me to send people money to do something I can already do, only without owning anything at the end of it!
posted by DU at 8:11 AM on July 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


Free version has ads, 10 hours total per month and 5 total plays of any given track - streaming to an installed program. The last two are relatively new restrictions, and make the free version far less attractive than it used to be.

The unlimited version removes those three things.

The premium version lets you stream to mobile devices and/or save the music to the device for offline playback. It's also at a higher bitrate.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:11 AM on July 14, 2011


It streams to OSX/Windows/Linux (via wine), but not Android/iOS/whatever other mobile stuff they do now.

There's an official iOS version, and unsupported native versions for android and linux that work very well, and keep reasonably up-to-date with the other platforms.
posted by palbo at 8:14 AM on July 14, 2011


Is Spotify better enough to switch?

A friend has had a weird hacked european account working in the US for the past year and recently showed it to me. It's pretty freaking incredible, and I'm a paid Rdio subscriber.

Basically Spotify in the EU had pretty much any song, artist, and album we could think of. So imagine the world's record store on streaming play. Every other streaming music service feels like Netflix instant streaming, which is "hey everyone, here is about 60% of the stuff you like, and a whole bunch of awful dreck you don't want"

He hasn't downloaded an mp3 since he signed up, since there's really no need to find music online aside from Spotify. I'm looking forward to it myself.
posted by mathowie at 8:14 AM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Rdio is basically the same thing at the same price points, right? Well, it doesn't have the free version, but that seems pretty crippled anyways.
posted by smackfu at 8:15 AM on July 14, 2011


Just in time! Moving in a few months to the US i was already thinking about what kind of crazy hoops i'd have to jump to keep paying for premium.

The paid versions allow streaming while abroad, so you could have just taken your existing account with you. (free one only allows for 14 days). Obviously, you can switch to the US one and pay less now though.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:15 AM on July 14, 2011


Oops, crossed with mathowie's comment... how is Spotify so much better than Rdio? Better licenses? Do we know if that will be the same in the US?
posted by smackfu at 8:16 AM on July 14, 2011


All the music? All the time? Hmm. Oh, but it's streaming? No thanks.

Maybe I don't quite get it, but because I can't immediately sign up and play with it, I'm not going to try.

I'm reminded of Trent Reznor's comment about OiNK. It's been years since the big bust, and no one has really monetized what they had going on yet.
posted by King Bee at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2011


Does it stream stuff in their library? or stuff in yours? I'm still waiting for something to replace what lala.com was--for a glorious but maddeningly brief time--actual access to the thousands of songs I have sitting at home on our server from any computer with internet in the world. Only the stuff I own, but all the stuff I own. Sure other people's choice in music is great, but you know, what I want is my choice in music.

Last.fm doesn't do it. Pandora doesn't do it. Google music only manages access to about 1/3 of the stuff I tried to upload to it. Grooveshark tells me everything I own is stolen. Amazon doesn't have the space for it.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is a proper android app in the market now.
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2011


For those of your looking for a free streaming service, there's always the probably-mostly-legal Grooveshark.

I say "mostly legal", because while they do pay royalties to the major labels, the actual music content is uploaded by users. This results in the main downfall of the service: Disorganized, mistagged, or duplicated tracks.

Myself, I use Napster. I'm grandfathered into a $15/quarter for unlimited streaming and 15 MP3 download credits. It's a shame they don't (AFAICT) offer that plan to new customers anymore.
posted by jcreigh at 8:20 AM on July 14, 2011


I hate to be sound the same note over and over again, but media should not be constrained by national boundaries. I'm in Canada which means I can't get Amazon onDemand, Hulu, ComedyCentral, BBC, spotify, decent Netflix streaming, decent iTunes shows, HBO, Amazon Mp3, and much much more.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's nothing without Roberta. Roberta was Spotify.
posted by davemee at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just switched my location from UK to US, and it started working without updating software. (I've been using it when traveling, probably installed the copy last August)
posted by bendybendy at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2011


But since then, Google, Amazon and Apple have all launched their cloud players/apps. So all of a sudden, I've got access to my entire music library anywhere. So I'm paying for what?

Music that you don't own a copy of already?

Does it stream stuff in their library? or stuff in yours?

It plays stuff in their library, which I've found to be pretty exhaustive but this obviously depends on your taste. The spotify software can play your local files. It does not stream your local files from one place to another, although it can sync them to mobile devices.

Oh, but it's streaming? No thanks.

It caches locally. With a premium account you can make any playlist you want available offline, including on your mobile.

I subscribe in the UK and I absolutely love it. As a result of Spotify I spend much more time listening to a much broader variety of music, and my life is better for it. Incredibly well worth the ten quid a month.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd try the free version if I could use it with iOS, but I'm not too interested in the ability to stream music to my desktop computer.
posted by diogenes at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2011


I signed up for a $5 account a bit ago. It's pretty slick, and songs play instantly (none of that waiting to load stuff like on Grooveshark).

The bad, however, is that I've already ran into a few artists that are totally absent from their catalog. One of my favorite bands, Rammstein, isn't on it. Emigrate, a side project by one of the Rammstein guys, isn't available in the US. However, the much less known Russian band SLOT has lots of stuff on Spotify. So, YMMV depending on what you like.
posted by menschlich at 8:23 AM on July 14, 2011


If you pay for the premium, it caches what you listen to so you can listen offline.

It does have a huge selection, but not a ton of underground, indy stuff, which you'll probably still have to get from hypemachine or beatport or whatever.

It also, weirdly enough, doesn't have any UK only releases, it seems.

Can someone with the UK version search for "Global Underground" and tell me how many albums come up? I'm seeing just GU #30.
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only #30 in the UK as well.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 8:27 AM on July 14, 2011


I already have Mog, and use turntable.fm avidly, but I'm giving the premium a try for a month. Just one month.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:30 AM on July 14, 2011


Businessweek feature.
posted by mr.marx at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2011


Also, celebs like Trent Reznor, Britney Spears and more are giving away promo invites on Twitter, if you lack one.
posted by mr.marx at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2011


I've used it more or less since it came out in the UK. It's good and there is a lot of stuff on there but there are also noticeable gaps in the catalogue.

I've not subscribed to a premium account (still too many gaps for my liking) but it does serve a purpose. I tend to listen to stuff in itunes or elsewhere most of the time. However, it does come into it's own at parties as everyone can drop things into playlists from a massive selection. In the UK, there is (or was) a Spotify 'Day Pass' for 99p and it streams without ads for 24hrs. If that option is available for a dollar in the US it might be worth having a go.

That's without mentioning artists of course. They get a mediocre amount per play from Spotify.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 8:35 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


How to search by genre, artist, etc.

If you want a tour of the very best of late 90s-early 2000s trance, search for 'label:hooj' and just click play.
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it better than Rhapsody mobile? Streaming Rhapsody to my Android is really spotty and has annoying hang times and interruptions. Downloading the playlists to my Android takes so long that it's effectively useless.
posted by yarly at 8:40 AM on July 14, 2011


I signed up for a premium account.

This is boss!
posted by kbanas at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2011


Is there some article somewhere that compares all these competing streaming audio sites? Because I don't have any idea how Spotify is different than Rdio, for instance. Important features seem to be available catalog, DRM restrictions, and goodness of the UI.
posted by Nelson at 8:41 AM on July 14, 2011


access to the thousands of songs I have sitting at home on our server from any computer with internet in the world. Only the stuff I own, but all the stuff I own. Sure other people's choice in music is great, but you know, what I want is my choice in music.

I'm using Subsonic installed on my computer at home to stream a DMB Audience tape from the summer of 1996 to my Droid OG as I sit working downtown right now...
posted by mikelieman at 8:45 AM on July 14, 2011


Anyone want to get a MeFi playlist going?
posted by palbo at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2011


Both the FPP and the linked article assume the reader already knows what Spotify is.
posted by rocket88 at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2011


what's the difference between this and mog.com, which has been around for a while?
posted by Post-it Goat at 8:46 AM on July 14, 2011


One reason I love Grooveshark so much is that, in addition to the standard "released" catalog, they also have tons of live/unreleased/bootleg/out-of-print stuff. I doubt Spotify will have any of that.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:47 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the Spotify Canada release, which should be in 2019 or so.
posted by scruss at 8:48 AM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm in Canada which means I can't get...

It all comes down to special snowflake licencing terms. I can't help but see this as mostly each lawyer/exec/company wanting to have a line in the licence agreements that THEY wrote, just to do the whole piss-on-the-hydrant, make-your-mark thing that people at the top seem so compelled to do.

If we're going to have to reform our IP laws, let's take the opportunity to require mandatory licensing, fixed conditions, no negotiations, with the only option being price. It works for things like academic copying in books and permission to do cover songs. We should apply it to consumer media purchases too. If you offer a product in one form, you must offer it in certain others under a mandated license. The choices for distributors of media are limited to price and availability (exclusivity deals, and so on) only.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting to hear why this is functionally different from Rhapsody or Zune Music Pass. It seems people like the interface, but that's not really much of a difference in my opinion. If they're all grabbing the same major music licenses, their libraries will be the same, no?
posted by arboles at 8:52 AM on July 14, 2011


"Everything should just be the same in every country. How? I don't know, just fix it!"
posted by smackfu at 8:54 AM on July 14, 2011


I used Lala (RIP) and tried Spotify via proxy. Both did exactly what I want from an online music service: give me instant access to pretty much anything I want to hear ("Complete Roland Kirk on Mercury? Right this way..."). I'm not sure about the "I don't want their music, I want my music" argument, as I assume most of your music would be available for streaming. And, at any rate, that's not what Spotify does.

Now, will it be better than Mog, my current streaming provider? I'll have to check some key titles to compare, but my previous experience with Spotify was so enjoyable that I was slavering for it to come to the U.S. So, trial membership? Definitely.
posted by the sobsister at 9:00 AM on July 14, 2011


Spotify cheaper in the US than UK? Still screwing over premium customers by only allowing sync to three devices? I am starting to lose patience. (Have had a Premium account here in the UK for a while).

It works for things like academic copying in books and permission to do cover songs.

Licensing is completely broken which is why there's a draft treaty on the table to try and balance things up a bit.
posted by wingless_angel at 9:09 AM on July 14, 2011


Nelson: Is there some article somewhere that compares all these competing streaming audio sites? Because I don't have any idea how Spotify is different than Rdio, for instance. Important features seem to be available catalog, DRM restrictions, and goodness of the UI.

Here is an article from August of last year from Lifehacker. It hasn't been updated since the US release of Spotify, but all the features are pretty much the same. Hope this helps!
posted by BenS at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


One thing that they seem to sweep under the carpet is that Spotify is P2P. That means it uses your upstream bandwidth to offload their own servers. Usually, this shouldn't be noticeable, but it might affect you if you're playing a game online or streaming video with Spotify idling in the background.

It's still a great service, though.
posted by ymgve at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2011


I'm not sure about the "I don't want their music, I want my music" argument, as I assume most of your music would be available for streaming.

I admit that my use-case is an outlier. I've got all these Grateful Dead ( et. al. ) shows which I taped myself that aren't available anywhere else ( at least not MY recording... And I like the way I used to adjust the mic-stand to get that audience sing-along balance JUST RIGHT... )
posted by mikelieman at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting to hear why this is functionally different from Rhapsody or Zune Music Pass. It seems people like the interface, but that's not really much of a difference in my opinion. If they're all grabbing the same major music licenses, their libraries will be the same, no?

It's not, really but you don't have to have a Zune and can use it on multiple OS's as well as the popular iPhone and Android platforms. The catalog is pretty beefy, I'm enjoying it. But yeah, nothing napster/rhapsody/etc haven't been doing. The clients are blazing fast at serving up streams.
posted by dig_duggler at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2011


UK user here. In its heyday, Spotify was brilliant. Pretty much everyone I knew, including the non-computer-savvy folk, had it, and made social events pretty awesome. It no longer mattered that your friends had 5 terrible albums on their computers because you could just sign into Spotify and play them music. People would make playlists for parties and things, take requests. People do this with YouTube now but Spotify has a much greater selection. It certainly did feel revolutionary at the time.

The ads were really, really annoying, though. I used to just mute my computer when they came on, but eventually they must have figured this out because the ads pause when I try to mute them now.

Anyway, now with the 10 hours/5 plays restriction, I am done with Spotify, I think. It might be useful if I'm looking for some obscure thing that I want to hear one time, but really never else. The last time I used it was to play a song I wanted to learn on guitar and I gave up because I need to play along to the song more than 5 times to learn it. I like having a ridiculously big music collection on my own hard drive so it doesn't really matter anyway.

The thing I'm obsessed with now though is Turntable.fm. It's completely addicting and I've spent hours and hours there already and been exposed to lots of amazing music that I hadn't heard before. It's good because it sort of combines the instant-play thing of Spotify with someone just feeding you great music that you will probably like. I have to use a proxy to access it, though -- I hope it comes here soon because it's great and I want everyone to get to try it.
posted by Put the kettle on at 9:11 AM on July 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


does it have mixtapes e.g. both Das Racist albums prior to Relax? illegal (unlicensed, free) music is a nontrivial fraction of what I listen to these days. the problem with these services is always "oh they have 99.99% of what you want" but I actually care about the .01% (as I'm sure many music boffos do)
posted by jcruelty at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2011


wingless_angel, that link just links back to this page. I'm curious about where you intended to link to.
posted by BenS at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2011


wingless_angel, that link just links back to this page. I'm curious about where you intended to link to.

Gack! I intended to link to Draft Treaty on Copyright Exceptions and Limitations for Libraries and Archives
posted by wingless_angel at 9:16 AM on July 14, 2011


I'm still waiting for something to replace what lala.com was--for a glorious but maddeningly brief time--actual access to the thousands of songs I have sitting at home on our server from any computer with internet in the world.

You can do this fairly easily using Subsonic if you have a computer at home you can leave on all the time. I paid for the iOS app so I can stream anywhere there's phone service... however, since phone service is not guaranteed in the car, I eventually fell back to an iPod, and now can carry all my music anywhere, without fail.

That only works below a certain library size, of course, but the newest classic is 160 gigs... that's quite a bit of music. I have 11,000 songs in my library, it would play for 60 days without repeating, and it would fill a quarter of the Classic's drive.

I'm thinking of a month of service, just to preview new music and be able to listen offline... I'll still buy anything I want forever, though.
posted by Huck500 at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2011


I have never heard about Mog before. The Lifehacker article claims it's available globally, but when I try to sign up it claims it's U.S. only. Did they change this in the last year?
posted by ymgve at 9:18 AM on July 14, 2011


Sounds neat but I've already got more music than I have time to listen to and I don't really want yet another monthly fee to pay.
posted by octothorpe at 9:20 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I eventually fell back to an iPod, and now can carry all my music anywhere, without fail.

Did Apple ever fix that bug which prevented the installation of Rockbox on post Gen5.5 hardware? For some reason the native apple firmware doesn't like my 24bit/96kHz flac files...
posted by mikelieman at 9:20 AM on July 14, 2011


'm still waiting for something to replace what lala.com was--for a glorious but maddeningly brief time--actual access to the thousands of songs I have sitting at home on our server from any computer with internet in the world. Only the stuff I own, but all the stuff I own.

Amazon will 100% do this. You now get unlimited music space for $20/year.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:27 AM on July 14, 2011


I've been using this for a while now, and it's awesome. They have almost everything I've wanted, and the client program generally works well. The iPhone app is slightly buggy at times, but it's gotten better in recent months.
posted by anaximander at 9:27 AM on July 14, 2011


Did Apple ever fix that bug which prevented the installation of Rockbox on post Gen5.5 hardware? For some reason the native apple firmware doesn't like my 24bit/96kHz flac files...

Nope. If I needed to add a FLAC file I'd convert to apple lossless... Max seems to be the go-to application.
posted by Huck500 at 9:28 AM on July 14, 2011


A friend gave me an invitation, and I feel like I should check it out, but I'm not sure I'll actually use it. I have more music than I can listen to as it is. I guess it would be nice to try full albums before I buy them when I don't already know for sure I want them.
posted by immlass at 9:34 AM on July 14, 2011


Here's a couple of months old comparison of spotify and rdio.

I can follow users just fine, provided they've enabled the social features, don't know what he means by that. There's no way to "discover" users, though. In general i agree with him that the social features were tacked on and are not the most useful thing ever.

The iOS client featured in the review he links is old already, and it's come a long way, the current version is very good.

Like he posits, spotify has slowly become my main player, but i guess it really depends on what you want a service like this for. YMMV.
posted by palbo at 9:35 AM on July 14, 2011


ymgve: As far as I know, MOG has never been available outside of the U.S.
posted by healthytext at 9:39 AM on July 14, 2011


I'm out of invites for now, too slow!
posted by palbo at 9:41 AM on July 14, 2011


I used to subscribe, for about 6 months, but there's just too much stuff I can't find on there so it couldn't replace my mp3 collection. And if it can't replace it, well, I might as well just buy more mp3s instead.

Great for checking out new stuff, but I can do that with it for free.
posted by dickasso at 9:53 AM on July 14, 2011


I'm a huge fan and more than happy to pay £10/month for Spotify. One of the coolest uses is playlists (either listed as sharemyplaylists.com or available in Spotify via your contacts). For example, for any festival you could care to name, someone's gone through and made a playlist - either a comprehensive one, or a highlights package. There are playlists for all new releases each week. Playlists made by music sites (e.g. Drowned in Sound does a weekly playlist of all the music they've reviewed). Playlists by individuals: new releases or themed playlists or anything. Playlists for Pitchfork's Top 500 songs or John Peel's Festive 50 from 1983.

So it becomes an incredibly useful music discovery service. And it's instant. I love Waffles, but I'd choose Spotify in preference, because it's easier, and there's a good chance that the music's I want is there.

I admit that my use-case is an outlier. I've got all these Grateful Dead ( et. al. ) shows which I taped myself that aren't available anywhere else ( at least not MY recording... And I like the way I used to adjust the mic-stand to get that audience sing-along balance JUST RIGHT... )

You can use Spotify to play stuff off your hard-drive. Not sure if it would allow you to stream that to another computer though. I either listen at home, or sync playlists to my phone. The streaming over 3G isn't good enough here for me to stream straight to the phone.

Does it have mixtapes e.g. both Das Racist albums prior to Relax?

I think it would be weak for mixtapes. I think it only has one Das Racist album (or it did, last time I looked).
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:55 AM on July 14, 2011


(starts to write palbo maddeningly -- hits preview -- !#)(%!*. Thanks anyway palbo!)
posted by cavalier at 9:56 AM on July 14, 2011


Music in the cloud is really bad for indy musicians ... many of those punters who might have bought a CD at a gig (or bought from Itunes) will now make a purchasing decision to listen to cloud streamed music ... and an indy band will have little choice but to make their music available if they still want people to hear their stuff ... and the punter will think they are doing the band a favour because, you know, spotify will cut them a cheque!.

But are they really doing them a favour?

Listening to an indy bands track on spotify will only net the band $0.00077

And there is a part two followup

Is this good for independent music?
posted by jannw at 10:19 AM on July 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I played with it a bit this morning, and while I like some features, I'm not too impressed right now. As an enthusiastic user of Lala (RIP), Rdio, and lately Turntable.fm, I feel like Spotify is really missing the boat on social features. They're pretty much nonexistent, from what I can tell. Aside from Facebook friends, how do I find new people, or communicate with anyone, get exposed to interesting new music, etc? Especially in comparison with Turntable.fm, which has introduced me to more outstanding, wonderfully obscure music in the past 3 weeks than any other time in my life, this just feels crippled and backwards. (You can't even find new independent music through non-social features, as the charts and "What's New" sections just show Top 40 and the new Limp Bizkit album.)

The selection doesn't necessarily seem amazing compared to Rdio and Mog, either. They don't have the most hyped indie album of this week, Washed Out. Did they not work out a deal with Sub Pop? It's not exactly a small label...

The free version is crippled and prevents daily use, the UI is cluttered and aesthetically unappealing, and at $5 a month I'll gladly stick to Rdio and Turntable.fm for my music needs.
posted by naju at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2011


Is this good for independent music?

I guess it depends on where a band makes money, if it's from record sales (ha!) then i guess it's probably bad, if it's from shows and merch then it might give them more exposure, it's anyone's guess.

Personally, i think that bands should give away their songs (that's what i would do, or did, with the only crappy recordings i had of my old band), and make money off tickets, merchandising, donations (?), etc.
I have pondered many times, without ever reaching an actual decision, on whether it's "right" for a musician to milk an album for money forever.
posted by palbo at 10:31 AM on July 14, 2011


Did Apple ever fix that bug which prevented the installation of Rockbox on post Gen5.5 hardware? For some reason the native apple firmware doesn't like my 24bit/96kHz flac files...

Slight tangent, but is that a bug or a feature? I sort of assumed that locking up the firmware was intentional, to guarantee the best (i.e Apple-originated) user experience...

Bringing the tangent back in - Spotify is also now able to manage iPods, although it only syncs playlist music which is already on your PC, so it's kind of a way to sell digital downloads as an easy way to round out a playlist. So, essentially, it wants to replace iTunes as the place you put together playlists, and the place you buy music from.

I've already noticed from playing around that the European and American available streaming music libraries are different in places, so trans-Atlantic playlist-sharing might be a little frustrating - or might encourage more music purchases.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:24 AM on July 14, 2011


He hasn't downloaded an mp3 since he signed up, since there's really no need to find music online aside from Spotify. I'm looking forward to it myself.

Exactly. $5-10 a month split what ... at least 500 or so ways per year? So you're paying your favorite acts ... 12-24 cents a year? And that's if they got all the subscription money as revenue. I'd bet they get what, 5%?

Download digital music for free and buy band merchandise (including CDs, LPs, tapes, whatever) for the artist directory. This sort of service gives artists tiny fractions of the revenue. It's akin to allmp3 or whatever that $.01/MB Russian service was called.

It might assuage any guilt you have about pirating and pass muster legally, but it's not right. It's not much better than purchasing a premium Rapidshare account, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it would be weak for mixtapes. I think it only has one Das Racist album (or it did, last time I looked).

There are lots of mix cds there, but only commercially released ones.
posted by empath at 11:45 AM on July 14, 2011


I'm still waiting for something to replace what lala.com was--for a glorious but maddeningly brief time--actual access to the thousands of songs I have sitting at home on our server from any computer with internet in the world. Only the stuff I own, but all the stuff I own.

crush-onastick: Audiogalaxy

I guess it depends on where a band makes money, if it's from record sales (ha!) then i guess it's probably bad, if it's from shows and merch then it might give them more exposure, it's anyone's guess.

You could make the same argument for Mediashare.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:46 AM on July 14, 2011


for the artist directory = from the artist directly. not on a phone, just confused.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2011


crush-onastick: Audiogalaxy

Audiogalaxy was so fucking amazing back in the day (1999?), and almost got me fired for using it at work.
posted by empath at 11:48 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


What gets me is that you can, if you feel like it, stream over ten thousand tracks in a month. For a tenner. So how does the industry justify such persecution of downloaders?
posted by Devonian at 11:49 AM on July 14, 2011


What gets me is that you can, if you feel like it, stream over ten thousand tracks in a month. For a tenner. So how does the industry justify such persecution of downloaders?

Stream 6 million songs for $5 a month? Sure, no problem. Make one digital copy of a CD you spent $20 on? PIRATE!
posted by mrgrimm at 11:53 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


It sounds like the Slacker app for Android, except Slacker is free and allows adskip.
posted by Malice at 11:54 AM on July 14, 2011


I've kept my French bank account open for more than a year since I came home for the sole purpose of paying for my Spotify account, and I've never thought twice about it. It's a great service, and more than worth the €9,99 - about €3,50 more, in fact, with bank fees. Not that I'm at all OK with there being yet another hideous price imbalance between US and EU markets around to slowly embitter my heart, soul and self. It just hurts so much more coming from a Swedish company!

On the upside, since hardly anybody I know can open an account, I have like 30 invitations for any of you who wants one. You can just message me with your email address.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:09 PM on July 14, 2011


Does anyone pay for Last.fm streaming? It's $3--you can't pick songs directly (works like Pandora but without ads and has a bigger catalog), but you can certainly pick an artist/genre pretty well.

I think it's catalog may compare with Spotify. Maybe slightly smaller ... here's a comparison of catalog sizes, but it doesn't include Last.fm/Pandora.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2011


It might assuage any guilt you have about pirating and pass muster legally, but it's not right. It's not much better than purchasing a premium Rapidshare account, imo.

Agreed. I want artists to get a fair royalty. I want eBook and online movie services that also fairly reward creators, while giving me a service that is flexible and has ownership options. I just don't get why services that meet these needs don't exist since clearly there is a massive market of people who want the same thing.

Until then, I am a Spotify Premium subscriber, but I do still buy a lot of vinyl. I go to the movies. I buy books. I consume a lot of culture - I just want it to be a better system for consumers and creators.
posted by wingless_angel at 12:15 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


mrgrimm: Download digital music for free and buy band merchandise (including CDs, LPs, tapes, whatever) from the artist directly. This sort of service gives artists tiny fractions of the revenue. It's akin to allmp3 or whatever that $.01/MB Russian service was called.

You make some good points here. I think maybe it helps to see Spotify as more like a radio station that the users can control, than like a purchase of an album. FWIW, the serious music fans that I know use Spotify to preview music, or for convenience. But they also purchase albums from the artist. In my case, I mainly use Spotify to check out support bands, or bands playing at festivals. I'll then buy the albums to support the artists that I like. (Essentially, it's replaced torrenting, not replaced buying albums or concert tickets).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:21 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


yeah, wingless_angel and IJ, you have the ideal approach, i.e. use Spotify to find new music and then support the new acts you like.

I just don't really see a huge difference between services like that and straight up downloading from an open directory (aside from all the benefits that downloading an unprotected digital file gets you).

I guess what really hits me is that the price of these services is too low for what they offer you, but paradoxically they are as high as people are willing to pay (see: Netflix), because unauthorized services offer the same content at no cost.

I guess the ultimate argument is that the people holding the legal rights are getting too much of the share, as opposed to the people who create and facilitate the music.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


EST? You mean EDT?
posted by Eideteker at 12:44 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another great thing about Grooveshark is that, since it's free, you can share songs and playlists with ANYONE, regardless of whether or not they're signed up. This is probably its greatest value to me. I love being able to send my friends rare tracks, or post them to Facebook, or whatever. This is why I'm going to stick with Grooveshark, until they inevitably shut it down and something else takes its place.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:01 PM on July 14, 2011


That's why people should just say ET.
posted by smackfu at 1:13 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spotify thread on reddit, lots of invites, mostly used up i think, you can try to find an unused one if you're desperate.
posted by palbo at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2011


That's why people should just say ET.

Elllllliot....
posted by mikelieman at 1:25 PM on July 14, 2011


I feel for the bands, but I really can't be arsed to scrutinize the royalty percentages of all the services I'm using. If what I'm using is legally above-board, and is supported by legitimate, undisputed contracts, I assume it's okay for me to use. I don't think it's my responsibility as a consumer to do much more. If bands are getting screwed, then they need to work it out with their labels, and their labels need to work it out with their distributors, and their distributors need to work it out with the streaming services. I can't help what the entire industry's doing.
posted by naju at 1:51 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just out of curiosity, any american mefites with an existing european account know if you just need to switch your account's country to the US to get into the limited free account thing?

Yep, I did just that as soon as I saw the announcement.
posted by asterix at 2:01 PM on July 14, 2011


If anyone's interested, there are some advanced search operators, which aren't well-publicised. Note, these are case sensitive.

artist:pulp
title:atmosphere
title:high-atmosphere
genre:techno (full list of genres here - Google docs spreadsheet, and the list is somewhat odd).
year:1971
year:1971-1975
label:chess

You can combine these, so genre:techno year:1990-1992. You can apparently use a minus sign to exclude something from your search, so genre:techno -year:1990-1992.

Also you can search for users by user:Infinite-Jest

I guess the ultimate argument is that the people holding the legal rights are getting too much of the share, as opposed to the people who create and facilitate the music.

Indeed. Last time I looked, Spotify itself was losing money, so I guess the record companies are getting most of it.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:06 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel for the bands, but I really can't be arsed to scrutinize the royalty percentages of all the services I'm using.

Interesting. So you're saying that if a CD is $12 at HMV and $12 from the band's web site, you don't care which one you buy it from?

I don't think it's my responsibility as a consumer to do much more.

I guess I fundamentally disagree. Is your only determination for buying something based on how much it costs and whether you want it, with no concern for how it was made or who might be exploited?

This is a bad analogy, but I'm in a rush and can't think of another: The Gap and Old Navy sell "fine" products at reasonable prices, but what the company did in Saipan was not right and they are refusing to settle the lawsuit.

So, bad analogy, but yeah, I definitely think "purchasers" (or consumers, if you prefer) do have a responsibility to do more than assess whether a purchase is legal.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:08 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Last time I looked, Spotify itself was losing money, so I guess the record companies are getting most of it.

Yeah, I just can't see how the model is sustainable, which is another reason I don't want to support it. Let's figure out something that works.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:09 PM on July 14, 2011


>Make one digital copy of a CD you spent $20 on? PIRATE!

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who really cares if you make a digital copy of a CD you purchase... and then keep it to yourself.

What people do care about is whether you then proceed to give that copy to someone else... or far worse, put it up as a torrent file.

When you do that, the $20 you just paid turns into $20, or $200, or $2000, or $20000 which the artist will not be paid.

>You could make the same argument for Mediashare.

Mediashare distinguishes itself a bit by reducing anonymity, which seems to make it a less popular site for piracy. But most "digital locker" sites are basically fencing operations. (I've gotta send out a dozen takedown letters to the same people everyday, about the same files... which are just replaced the next day; they could of course prevent known pirated works from being offered on their sites, with the implementation of a couple of lines of code... but of course they're not going to do that... because the pirates whom they supposedly chastise are the foundation of their business model.) Everyday, they feign surprise at offering my work; everyday, I feign surprise to have found that their work consists of offering my work, and everyday, it is my sad and entirely unexpected duty to inform them that somehow their chocolate has gotten mixed up with my peanut butter, and would they please be so kind as to remove the completely unexpected pirated works.

>it helps to see Spotify as more like a radio station that the users can control

I'm not a musician or a radio guy, but it seems to me that what makes radio an effective marketing tool for musicians is that listeners cannot control it: You get exposed to a specific song, unpredictably; you want it; you can't bring it back by wanting it; you have to buy it. If you can control when your radio plays your favorite song, there's not much of an incentive to buy it.

>if it's from record sales (ha!) then i guess it's probably bad, if it's from shows and merch then it might give them more exposure

And more exposure leads to... what, more free downloading?

The "shows and merchandise" suggestion doesn't seem that much different from being paid tips instead of wages.

>I have pondered many times, without ever reaching an actual decision, on whether it's "right" for a musician to milk an album for money forever.

"Jenkins, you've worked for me lo these last six years, and have done an excellent job. You've done such an excellent job that I'm going to recommend your work to my friend, and so he's going to use and benefit from your work. Just one thing: He's not going to pay you, because I already paid you for some work you did six years ago, and besides, you did this work six years ago, and really, he just doesn't feel like paying you. Sound good?"
posted by darth_tedious at 2:11 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


As an indie musician (albeit one with a day job who is just happy when our band breaks even), I am happy when someone buys our CDs directly from us, but don't feel that anyone has any ethical obligation to pay for our music in some way that maximizes our take.
posted by dfan at 2:13 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I have pondered many times, without ever reaching an actual decision, on whether it's "right" for a musician to milk an album for money forever.

"Jenkins, you've worked for me lo these last six years, and have done an excellent job. You've done such an excellent job that I'm going to recommend your work to my friend, and so he's going to use and benefit from your work. Just one thing: He's not going to pay you, because I already paid you for some work you did six years ago, and besides, you did this work six years ago, and really, he just doesn't feel like paying you. Sound good?"


"Jenkins, you've spent a few hours painting this painting you gave me as a gift, and i'm going to charge a one-time fee to anyone who ever visits me in my house and looks at the painting, i'll give you a very small cut for each one of those."

I'm not good at analogies, but i don't think yours is a very apt one either, and i think analogies are rarely helpful for complicated issues.

Thinking back on my statement, i imagine copyright sort of does what i mean. 75 years is a long time, though.
posted by palbo at 2:28 PM on July 14, 2011


I definitely think "purchasers" (or consumers, if you prefer) do have a responsibility to do more than assess whether a purchase is legal.

When you buy your favorite craft beer at a liquor store, do you first do research to see whether the microbrewery is getting a high-enough percentage of the take compared to the store and the distributor? I have no idea how much the microbrewery makes, I don't know how I'd find out, and I don't really care. I assume everything is cool, otherwise the microbrewery wouldn't do business with all those other parties. Or would terminate the contract. I love Dogfish Head but I'm not going to go deep into their finances to figure things out and help them. At some point you just pay and enjoy the beer.

It's the same thing here, isn't it?
posted by naju at 2:28 PM on July 14, 2011


And yeah, apparently labels like Sub Pop and Drag City have decided that Spotify isn't good for their business. So the bands from those labels aren't available. Sucks for me, but I understand.
posted by naju at 2:30 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I don't think it's my responsibility as a consumer to do much more.

I guess I fundamentally disagree. Is your only determination for buying something based on how much it costs and whether you want it, with no concern for how it was made or who might be exploited?


Well, in this case (in my opinion, and to differentiate the issue from, say, chinese workers and your t-shirts), the musicians have a say, and plenty opt-out from the evil corporate machinery, so one could assume that the musicians bought into the game and tacitly accept the prevailing rules. They could get a day job and tour locally on the weekends, or get a loan and do the whole thing privately, or save money, or a lot of other options, or whatever.

In reality, that would probably mean i'd get to see a lot less bands live, or get to hear fewer new bands, or some other bunch of scenarios i'm ignoring because i'm arguing on the internet without really thinking things deeply.

I'm reading Our Band Could Be Your Life these days, and if the whole DIY somewhat worked back then without all the amenities we have today, well, maybe people that really really wanted to do it would do it, and the rest would be "amateur" musicians.

That being said i love music and i'm a musician myself, and i would love it if being a musician as a full time job was easier, and i go to shows without complaining too much about the outrageous prices i'm paying here (and ticketmaster comes into the mix, nice), but money is a relatively scarce resource, what are you gonna do...

I'm typing too much.
posted by palbo at 2:45 PM on July 14, 2011


I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who really cares if you make a digital copy of a CD you purchase... and then keep it to yourself.

"In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer."

"Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use" - Washington Post, December 30, 2007
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on July 14, 2011


When you buy your favorite craft beer at a liquor store, do you first do research to see whether the microbrewery is getting a high-enough percentage of the take compared to the store and the distributor?

If there is an option to buy my favorite craft beer directly from the brewery or pub that makes it, I will do it.

And I certainly buy direct whenever possible. I like Vital Vittles bread, which is sold at Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods for the same price as the farmer's market, but I will make an extra trip to the market to buy a loaf from Vital Vittles directly.

I understand your point, and I don't want to split lines trying to figure out where the appropriate level of customer attention is, but I think you get my point as well.

"Jenkins, you've worked for me lo these last six years, and have done an excellent job. You've done such an excellent job that I'm going to recommend your work to my friend, and so he's going to use and benefit from your work. Just one thing: He's not going to pay you, because I already paid you for some work you did six years ago, and besides, you did this work six years ago, and really, he just doesn't feel like paying you. Sound good?"

That analogy is pretty ridiculous. My employer certainly has the right to give away all the work I've done for it through the years without compensating me again.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:43 PM on July 14, 2011


"Jenkins, you've worked for me lo these last six years, and have done an excellent job. You've done such an excellent job that I'm going to recommend your work to my friend, and so he's going to use and benefit from your work. Just one thing: He's not going to pay you, because I already paid you for some work you did six years ago, and besides, you did this work six years ago, and really, he just doesn't feel like paying you. Sound good?"

Get the money up front and stop relying on an outdated and unworkable business model, which is basically a lottery, anyway, for most artists.
posted by empath at 3:57 PM on July 14, 2011


>Get the money up front

"Let's see... I understand you're about to give this away to your closest 9000 online pals. So... that works out to about $9000 for the single. Oh... wait. $9001."

>My employer certainly has the right to give away all the work I've done for it through the years without compensating me again.

Not if, when you were hired, you were told, "We'll only pay you $N, because our rights don't include giving away your work." Copyright typically explicitly forbids reproduction of the purchased work, no?
posted by darth_tedious at 4:10 PM on July 14, 2011


Me: >it helps to see Spotify as more like a radio station that the users can control

darth_tedious: it seems to me that what makes radio an effective marketing tool for musicians is that listeners cannot control it: You get exposed to a specific song, unpredictably; you want it...you have to buy it. If you can control when your radio plays your favorite song, there's not much of an incentive to buy it.


Fair comment, and I guess all I can say is that the Spotify users that I know IRL and online still buy albums, and certainly still go to gigs (though to be fair, that's a self-selecting group of people who love music). I'll buy physical albums because I want to support the artist, as a memento of their show, or because they're signing it, that sort of thing. (I'd probably be happier just using Spotify, and sending artists money via a tip jar, if that was a widespread option).

But long term, I can see that people might stop doing that, and just rely on the streaming services.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:16 AM on July 15, 2011


To complement the service itself it's worth checking out the various spotify resources at http://pansentient.com/spotify-resources/ - there's a fairly decent API

The various latest releases by genre & last.fm favourites to spotify playlists are ones I tend to use most (they keep changing names and new variants appear, hence lack of direct links).

spotify:user:buntix is I there; got a fair amount of post rock (and the like) at spotify:user:buntix:playlist:7nvNAcfxui1AoqnGhwuI1v (5 straight day's worth) if that's your bag - it's not so much a playlist, as just me dumping every relevant artist and album in as I listen to it, with no regard to taste or decency (I have none).

Also got quite a stash of invitations going spare if the peeps upthread are out.
posted by titus-g at 12:47 AM on July 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, forgot to say... it's not just music on there, for e.g.

Here's Dylan Thomas, as read by Dylan Thomas: spotify:album:5vCWfWCArfoZ0NrinmQabm

Howard Zinn's /A People's History of the United States/ - spotify:album:7AlM1t8HuT6FEcLQmpgyLA

More Chomsky than you can poke a prolatariat at spotify:artist:5NEnjDZdPKESN9J7NoPmdz

Doug Stanhope /From Across the Street/ - spotify:album:7gFYWBhsPZ1EH88BlNxINf
posted by titus-g at 12:56 AM on July 15, 2011


This is a pretty good list of Spotify tools.
posted by Richard Holden at 7:05 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other news, apparently Clear Channels iPhone/iPad app (I heart radio) is going to be rolling out a pandora competitor.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 AM on July 15, 2011


Speaking of Internet radio, Radio Soulwax launched recently. It's a different beast--1 curated audio + video channel. Fun stuff.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:35 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to the Spotify Canada release, which should be in 2019 or so.

And it will only contain music by The Tragically Hip, Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan and Nickelback.

Oh, and maybe Our Lady Peace, for a bit of variety.

Sigh. Dear media companies: stop it. There is NO REASON for you to limit streaming options to Americans (or Europeans, or WHEREVER-ians) only. Grr.
posted by antifuse at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there was no reason, they wouldn't have been held up for three years to come to the US.
posted by smackfu at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2011


Sorry, no legitimate reason (stupid licensing agreements needing to be signed for EVERY SINGLE COUNTRY in the digital age is not a legitimate reason, to me. But I'm a bitter Canadian who gets all the American network channels on cable here, and isn't allowed to stream American network TV shows due to licensing restrictions).
posted by antifuse at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2011


On royalties. In its launch country, Sweden, where its extremely prevalent, some record companies say that they make more money in royalties from Spotify than from cd and download sales. That's how it works -- more users equals higher collective royalties. 60 percent comes from streaming:

http://www.businessinsider.com/will-spotify-force-the-music-industry-to-adjust-2011-7

http://www.musicweek.com/story.asp?storycode=1041652

Notice in the second link, the commenter doesn't read the story properly and misunderstands the increase.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:29 PM on July 15, 2011


And yeah, apparently labels like Sub Pop and Drag City have decided that Spotify isn't good for their business.

While Drag City isn't playing, Sub Pop is indeed on Spotify. They're also very active on rdio, uploading playlists and listening to albums.
posted by rockstar at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2011


When I saw this thread I was intrigued by the service, but didn't want to sign up for an account without trying it for free to get a feel for whether it would be worth it. I entered my email address on their webpage and just got an invite and opened an account, so if you are interested, it seems they are giving out invites pretty generously. I haven't tried it out yet, but once I get home and put the client on my computer I will see what I think.
posted by TedW at 12:50 PM on July 19, 2011


Wait. There isn't a web interface?

I'm going to say grooveshark is better based on that alone. (They'll fix the tagging eventually)
posted by czytm at 1:21 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


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