I haven’t been a Spotify Premium subscriber since 2013. And I haven’t really used the service much since then, either.
I didn’t start streaming music daily until a couple of years ago. I’ve used Apple Music extensively, and eventually settled on Google Play Music due to its cross-platform compatibility, quick UI, and value-packed bundling with Youtube Red.
Well, those advertisements I always see and hear at Starbucks must have worked, because I’ve decided to give Spotify Free another shot and see if they can win me over.
Spotify made headlines recently by giving artists the ability to put new release music behind their paywall for two weeks. As the only major player offering on-demand track streaming for free on computers, this is potentially a very big deal, and it goes against what they’ve said in the past. It might upset users of the free service, rather than pushing them to pay $10 a month.
Then again, two weeks isn’t that long to wait for new releases.
Spotify is still probably the biggest name in music streaming. They have a userbase of over 100 million people split down the middle between the free and paid tiers. I think their library is probably the best, and I suspect this recent deal only helped that. A quick search through the weird mix of music I like shows a better availability on Spotify compared to Google Play.
Taylor Swift famously brought her full catalog back to Spotify last month. A bunch of this material also came to Google Play Music. But, when you search for Taylor Swift albums on Google Play…you get a lot of random junk too. You get a bunch of low quality covers of Swift songs…and even the new Katy Perry album. Oh snap.
Google never publishes their numbers, so they can’t use their userbase to publicly sway big artists. These days, backroom negotiations don’t have the flair that big public announcements do. And it seems like they allow just about anyone to upload anything to the service…which is cool.
But they need to filter this better.
When I search for Taylor Swift’s albums specifically, I don’t want to see covers in those search results.
Spotify is better at this.
Even though I don’t listen to absolutely every piece of music that comes out…the notion of having the biggest library appeals to me. And Spotify’s got that covered too.
After not touching the Spotify software in years, I’m impressed with the simplicity of the interface. The focus is on the music, and nothing else, and it runs quite well on my 12-inch Macbook. There’s no real track rating system; it’s entirely based on the number of plays. That’s a little weird! It’s easy to quickly add stuff to my library, and the banner ads in the free version aren’t as intrusive as they could be.
I like the dark motif of the UI. It’s more pleasing to the eyes and better highlights the album art than the bright orange and white look of Google Play.
I also like that it easily found the few local music tracks I have on my Macbook and seamlessly imported them.
I also really like Spotify’s sound quality even on the free 160kbps version. Spotify is the only major service using the Ogg Vorbis audio codec, which is pretty darn efficient in the quality vs. bandwidth department. Imaging and treble detail are really impressive, in a way I wasn’t expecting.
I’ve had some minor quality and compression issues in the past with Google Play Music, and that’s the one big knock I had against it in my GPM vs Apple Music showdown.
From playing around with Spotify’s free version for a few hours, it sounds just as good as what I came to expect out of Apple Music. That’s awesome!
I’ve had a good time using Spotify today. It ticked most of the boxes I was hoping it would tick. Indeed, I’m ready to start paying them $10 a month again.
However, I also don’t want to cancel Google Play Music…but mostly because it’s bundled with my Youtube Red subscription. I use Youtube Red every day. It’s worth the $10 fee by itself, for me.
It doesn’t take long with Spotify to see why it’s still the biggest service in music streaming, and I’m glad I gave it another shot!