A few days ago Spotify made its USA debut and wow wee wow what a service. If you know me even a tiny little bit you’ll know that I am really hard to impress when it comes to apps and/or web services and Spotify knocks this one out of the park. The music industry has been hurting for a LONG time thanks to Napster, P2p, and Mp3s and while iTunes put a bandaid on the music labels, the artists themselves (at least indie ones) have still been hurting. While I can’t say I’ve always acquired all of my music via iTunes or some other legitimate online music store, the process of purchasing, downloading, dealing with DRM issues, backing up and syncing music has been broken for a long time- making it easier to pirate music than to actually pay for it. Last night after two glasses of Gosling’s I signed up for a Spotify premium account. Holy. Shit. All I can say is Spotify will trick you into paying for music again and you’ll feel good about it. Spotify Key Observations • SUPER FAST - searching seems almost too fast. WAY faster than the itunes store hands down. • OTA Syncing - syncing is so seamless you won’t have to think about it • An interface that makes sense both on the desktop version and the mobile version • Sharing with other Spotify friends is really easy. You can drop a song in someone’s inbox and they have it! • Spotify seems to have a good majority of the music I like (even the obscure stuff). • Since everything streams (although you can make things available offline) you save A TON of disk space.
How does Spotify stack up against iTunes I believe Spotify just took a shot across the iTunes store bow. With the feature set iTunes Match introduces it might be too little too late. Although iTunes Match is $25/yr vs Spotify’s $120/year for a premium account, the functionality you get with Spotify is well worth it. From my understanding, iTunes Match will find music you’ve previously downloaded (from anywhere) and will match that song to one in the iTunes Library if it exists. In the other corner Spotify removes the need to even think about illegally downloading a song or album. It’s all right there in Spotify’s library and ready to sync. So from a user experience perspective, Spotify crushes the iTunes and the iPod ecosystem. All I can do is hope Apple is paying close attention to what Spotify is up to and continues to innovate the iTunes Match and iCloud system. People like things that are ‘easy’ to do (like illegally downloading music), so if ease of use is backed up by a large music library, an awesome feature set, and is also significantly easier to use that iTunes … that sounds like a recipe for [something]. It’ll take sometime before Spotify is a household name but mark my words in this permanent blog post that will live on the internet for eternity: Spotify will become a household name.
UPDATE: After a week of using Spotify I have noticed that the one important feature it is missing is the ability to browse for music. You can check out “What’s New” but there is no way to browse music by genre. Essentially Spotify needs a solid music discovery layer. Only a matter of time but this is an area where services like Pandora and Last.fm shine a bit more than Spotify.