Music has been a major factor in my life since I was a kid. I've spent more time and money in record shops than I can possibly remember. As I got older the format changed but the passion remained. CDs first of course, then the rise of MP3s, Napster, and Winamp. Finally iPods, and iTunes. Life was great.
As Apple retired the iPod Classic line, those of us who relished having all their music with them everywhere were just a little nervous. The 160G Classic was the only game in town for anyone with a large collection. What would we do when our current models filled to capacity, or (shudder) died? Didn't bear thinking about. Well that day came about a month ago. My iPod disk starting clicking, and iTunes reported errors when attempting to sync. Sad day. End of an era really. And really quite jarring because I'd carried an iPod everywhere for years. I was faced with the "well, now what?" question.
Sure I could take my MacBook Pro back and forth to work and still listen to my iTunes library. But that didn't help the commute to work, nor walking around the grocery store. It was clear that the answer was to turn to a streaming service to fill the gap. Enter Spotify. I've been giving it a whirl for close to a month now. And I have to say I like it. A lot. Having access to such a vast body of work is just mind blowing. The stuff I would only dream of as a young teenager playing records in my bedroom.
I'd initially been all a bit meh on streaming because my commute to work involved long periods of driving through dead zones. But we bought a new house last month and my commute changed. Guess what? No dead zones anymore. At all. Which is great.
Finding new albums by artists you'd forgotten to buy is part of the appeal of a streaming service. I'm having more fun listening to music than I've had in a while. That speaks volumes for the service. I've found myself listening more when I'm out and about as well. Only having to have my phone with me is great, gone are the days of carrying multiple gadgets. And both the iOS and Mac clients scrobble to last.fm which is incredibly important for a statistics junkie like me.
It hasn't all been rainbows and cake though, if I'm honest. There are a few things that are kind of annoying with Spotify. I don't know how other streaming services compare here, maybe it's similar with Apple Music too?
• Song Titles – I've a carefully curated iTunes music library, to the point where all Id3v2 metadata is correct, so I looked on in horror as I saw Spotify was playing "Depeche Mode – Nothing 2006 Remastered Version". No no no no no. Just no. It may be the remastered album, but that is not the song title. And that's thrown off my last.fm stats as a result because that track is essentially a brand new song and the actual "Depeche Mode – Nothing" didn't get a play count bump. Any hardcore last.fm'ers out there will already feel the ire here.
• Missing Albums – being able to have an artist's entire discography at hand is great. Except when it isn't all there. I was in a Killing Joke mood the other day and wanted to listen to them. Some of their albums are there, some aren't. 2010's Absolute Dissent is one that's missing. Possibly not the fault of Spotify. The record label just may not have agreed to streaming rights? Annoying for users mind.
• Incorrect Tracks – I have an iTunes playlist that Spotify happily recognized. I was pleased to see "Simple Minds – New Gold Dream (Live)" start playing. This is the version from Live In the City Of Light, of which Spotify told me was indeed the album it was playing. Except it wasn't. It was a completely different live version. Grr.
So, my free trial expires in the next couple of days. Does the good outweigh the bad? Yes and I'll be paying for the service after that. No ads, higher quality streams, being able to listen when offline is worth the $9.95 a month. Will I miss smart playlists and genius mixes from iTunes? Sure. Will I find the "…Remastered Version…" in song titles annoying? Yes.
So who knows, in a couple of months I could completely change my mind and try something else. But for now, it's all Spotify all the time.