back to article Spotify: We kick the tyres

Spotify, which opened up to all UK users this week, is a streaming music access service that's gathered an ecstatic response from some users. It's even "made illegal file sharing look like too much hard work" according to one Reg commenter. That's a pretty big claim - but then it's a pretty ambitious service. So what it is …


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  1. Paul Murphy
    Paris Hilton

    What about??

    The Goons shows, The Navy Lark, Men from the Ministry, Blaster Bates etc.??

    Trying to find some of the (really) old radio shows, recordings et al from well before the internet age can be very difficult.

    There MUST be a way of getting hold of them that doesn't need me to buy stacks of cassettes (and a player!), or similar stacks of CD's.

    The more I think of it, the more attractive a high-quality MP3 (PYO format) collection on my LAN, backed up (or even supplied by) the interwebs and/ or my ISP sounds.

    I don't mind paying for music, but I already have around 600 CD's (and more DVDs) and I'm running out of room!


    PH? - so much room there's probably an echo... echo...

  2. Steve Anderson
    Thumb Up

    My impressions

    I've been kicking the tyres, so to speak, for a few weeks now and really like Spotify.

    It's worth noting that it's streaming a Vorbis (aka OGG) stream so that 160kbit offers greater fidelity than a similar bitrate MP3 stream.

    The catalogue is patchy in places, mainly due to the licensing mess - a whole bunch of songs were removed just before going live because they didn't have clear streaming rights. (This resulted in the removal of a load of Joe Gibbs and the Professionals albums - and just when I was in the mood for some 70s dub!)

    The catalogue also gets confused. There are two bands named Heavenly; the super awesome British indie band of the early 90s and a French speed metal band. The two albums they have for Heavenly are from the UK band but the biography (and suggested similar artists) involve French metal. Makes for a surreal listening experience - like the most inept DJ's radio show ever.

    Adverts are unobtrusive but not well targeted - not right now, at any rate. They can see what I've been listening to - why make me listen to an advert for Lady Gaga when I've been stuck in reggae and indie for days?

    The software is excellent. Small footprint in terms of memory and CPU (far, far smaller than iTunes) and doesn't stutter and fall over when anything processor intensive is going on (like, erm, iTunes). Also obeys the media keys on my keyboard out of the box, which is nice.

    Hence, a thumbs up from me.

  3. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Up

    when i get home

    im going to try that !!!

    let me guess all the other reg readers will be too so that the servers will be chocker !!


    but anyway how long till somebody has a plugin that will save the streams straight to your HDD

  4. Liam Pennington
    Thumb Up

    Gets my vote

    I've been usign Spotify since the turn of the year. When i cannot be bothered with downloading or my mediaplayer, Spotify is a great fallback. The ads are a bit annoying but it's a small price to pay (if you will) for the chance to listen to almost every song which pops into my head while I work.

    For those with iTunes or somesuch it may not be perfect, but for the less technologically minded, it's a simple but very effective music-on-demand type service.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward vs Spotify

    I'm using both at the moment, for different things. Spotify is great if you know exactly what you want to hear - type in the track name, and if Spotify has it, there you go. What it doesn't have is a style radio where you enter an artist name, or a tag, and get new songs from bands you may never have heard before. I've picked up loads of new bands doing this, which has to be good for the music industry. Genre is just too broad.

    Another of the key things Spotify is missing has been done very well by Last - an iPod / iPhone client. Why you'd launch a music service without one, especially after a beta of a year, I can't understand.

    Yes, they're both music services delivered over the internet, but they aren't really in competition at the moment, and a merged client (Spotify with radio and local playback) would be amazing.

  6. Len Goddard

    No free acces

    It is probably worth mentioning that the "free" option is currently an invitation-only beta.

    But you can sign up for paid access right now.

    Paying for a beta? Sounds like a Microsoft business model

  7. Adam

    Pretty nifty but the interface needs work.

    I have been using spotify for a while. It has a fantastic music database and is fast and reliable, but it simply lacks tools for music management that other media players have.

    I would like to be able to pool my favorite albums and tracks into a generic music library, create 'views' into the music library so I can browse it however I feel and create dynamic playlists based on my own rules applied to that library. Your limited to dragging and dropping music into static playlists.

    Right now, it's a good application for scouting out music - finding the bands/tracks that you heard on the radio or can't quite remember the name for. I then acquire the song in MP3 format and drop them into a proper media player.

    If they introduce powerfull tools for music management and drop the price (£120 a year? yeah right!) I would pay for it, until then it will remain something I REALLY want to see do well but is stopping short.

  8. Joe K
    Thumb Down

    1999 Napster still has them beat

    Remember when you could type almost anything into Napster, and find plenty of people that had it, could never stump that thing.

    I would have paid a tenner a month for that, easy.

    But they won't let us share our own music collections, that scares them shitless as it gives us the control (illusionary, but they are dinosaurs doing the thinking), yet thats all we want.

    Oh and to keep the MP3s, but thats a whole other story.

  9. Ash
    Thumb Up

    160kbps jukebox?

    I'm in. I'll get the client tonight.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    No penguin support? Not interested. That's where browser-based wins.

  11. Xander

    Business Model is banned?

    What an odd behaviour... Every business needs a model. Now "Cloud" or "Twitter" - those are bannable words, easily.

  12. Kevin Pitkin
    Thumb Down

    No Scrobbling?

    "There's very few gimmicks: no widgets or scrobbling. "

    Sorry, but there is scrobbling, it's there in the preference panel... (on the Mac client at least).

  13. Anonymous Coward


    1) Non SSL account signup

    2) T+C from hell

    3) 160kbps

    4) No freetards allowed (f*ck Wine)

    5) See you later

  14. Kev K
    Thumb Up

    just tried this

    so simple even the mrs can use it

    sound quality is fine to my ears - lots of "never heard of them" artists

    If they offered a download option with the paid for service you can sign me up

    I like

  15. David Hicks

    Kinda cool

    I played with it for a while. It has a good selection of stuff I was interested in, a few albums I haven't got by some fairly obscure artists, other bits and pieces.

    I was also pleased that, even though there's no linux version, the page allowed me to download the windows version and suggested I try wine.

    I hadn't realised it had audio ads though. That's a deal breaker for me. I know, I know, how else were they going to support themselves? But still, guess I won't be using it much because of this.

  16. David S


    It seems to have some significant strengths in terms of the library. I mean, fair enough I haven't ever really looked at the streaming music field before, but "following my nose", as it were, I was delighted to find some real blasts from my past. BAP, Groenemeyer, Art of Noise... A good afternoon's nostalgia trip, if nothing else...

    Would I pay for it? Probably; it would depend on the price, as most things do.

    Anyway. Back to work. Gluck auf!

  17. Chris Cooke
    Thumb Down

    no interesting music

    Signed up, tried it, there's nothing there I want to listen to. Bye.

  18. Adrian Jackson

    Re: vs Spotify

    "What it doesn't have is a style radio where you enter an artist name, or a tag, and get new songs from bands you may never have heard before."

    Go to the Artist page, select Artist Radio. Not quite as prolific as the radio, but I've found some interesting stuff that way. :)

  19. Danny
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for this

    Just tried it and found it better than similar services I have previously tried so thumbs up!

  20. EdwardP

    Good Lord!

    Their 9.99 price works out at ~£100pa

    Personally I think that's a very fair price to pay for:

    A) Music unencumbered with DRM. Once I've bought it, it's mine and I'll do what I want with it, thank you very much.

    B) High quality rips. 128kbps wont do, 192kbps wont do, it's 320+ or bust.

    C) Huge library. This is beyond important. Never mind missing the greats (Beatles, Led Zep) as we all probably have these somewhere anyway, whats more important is having a big enough selection that I can justify it as my ONLY source of music. There's no point in paying 100 a month if I still find myself doing illegals to get what I need. This is easier said than done, but will make or break the service.

    D) Longevity. To succeed this can't be another fly-by-night services, it has to last. Otherwise people'll see no value in switching from a technology that will survive to one that might not.

    If it can fill these criteria, then just show me where to put me digits.

  21. Thomas Jerome

    Pulled artists.

    They had most of Shellac's stuff for a while, until they pulled it all, along with a bunch of other artists. Shame, as I liked listening to Steve Albini rant about geography, and whatever else he signs about.

    Also, typing 'Whitehouse' into Spotify yields some lacklustre country and western band, as opposed to the preferred power electronics unit.

    Mind you, they do keep adding artists all the time - they didn't use to have Vampire Weekend, but they're on there now. Not that that's much consolation in the grand scheme of things.

  22. Moogal

    For the *nix users

    I've been running it quite happily under Wine for a week or two. No complaints.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well maybe YOU don't dance to techno any more...

    Liking the Alabama 3 reference! :)

  24. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    @Paul Murphy

    You should try Radio 7, a lot of old/good stuff pops up on there.

  25. Toastan Buttar

    No penguin support ?

    The Windows client runs fine on Wine. I use it without any problem when I boot into Ubuntu.

    My kids rang me at work today (school holidays) to find out how they could log in to my account. I wasn't going to give them my password, so I'll have to set up new user accounts for them tonight. They're about as addicted to Spotify as I am. I just hope the business model holds out - I'd hate to lose it now that I'm so used to it being there.

  26. Paul Wells
    Thumb Up

    @Paul Murphy

    The Goons shows, The Navy Lark, Men from the Ministry, and lots more can be found on BBC Radio 7.

  27. Patrick

    Uses P2p

    It's worth noting that Spotify is a P2P app, ie. whilst you're listening to music it's busy sending that music from your PC to other Spotify users.

    If you're sharing your connection with others then they may notice a slowdown as Spotify continually sends data. And if you're on a traffic limited package with your ISP then you may want to avoid it.

  28. Charles Calthrop

    YouTube as equivalent as highlighted?

    "So the idea isn't new, and Google already offers a universal jukebox, albeit mostly unlicensed and low quality, with YouTube. What's the fuss about?"

    How do I get a playlist on YouTube? How do I avoid making sure that the link I click is the orginal version of the song and not some emo in his bedroom? How do I click one button to find everything there is on YouTube by that author?

    <We are the energy saving trust> sorry about that

    What spotify is great at is making listening to music easy. Remember when we were amazed how relevant search results were in Google? Spotify is to youTube what Google was to altavista in terms of ease of use of listening to most music,

    Yeah, you can say up there ^^ that napster rocked and it did, but I was on dial up most of the time I was using it so it took ages to get anything. What I want is something quick and easy. If accessibility is ubiquitous, ownership is meaningless. The question is will it's business model make accessibility ubiquitous?

  29. blackworx
    Thumb Up

    you don't dance to techno anymore

    too busy bein a loverman and a deejay

  30. Chris Ashworth

    Thumbs up

    Been using it for a few months now, really like it, the missus uses it at home as well. Needs some playlist management and browsing enhancements, but it's a lovely low-footprint application. Top marks to the developers.

    I'll be paying for a sub once it's out of Beta.

  31. Peyton

    Warning: Pandora fanboy posting

    Just launched it, let it load, then clicked the button for next song... Didn't even manage a "1 mississippi" to cover the sound gap. Maybe it's only fast in the US though... For me, Pandora is the greatest thing to happen to the net since google... and I hate to contradict (well not really) but I bought a subscription because I like it *that much* (tho the ads were very unobtrusive imo)

    I will say I've not used spotify... but it seems like it falls into a weird category of "I know exactly what song I want to hear but don't like it well enough to buy a copy"

    I will end by saying I am listening to the "beatles" station I just created on pandora. "spotify really blows them away" psh not if you like the beatles i guess :p

  32. Bad Beaver

    "not available in your country yet"

    You know what, the next newfangled-whatever-delivery-bull that discriminates me for not being located in a place it likes can suck my salty ass.

    — I realize Spotify is invite only. Nevertheless, I see this too often by now. They can all go fuck themselves and come back crying when me, you and everyone's grandma has adopted 100% anonymous surfing habits —

  33. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    No invite necessary

    I googled them and, though the preview excerpt was the "you need an invite business", I was given the chance to sign up for free straight away. Maybe they want more Linux users? You get a nice friendly page if you click the download button under Linux ...

    It now works perfectly under wine, and I am very impressed.

  34. Dick Emery

    Not multi-soundcard aware

    I have two soundcards. I use the one on the motherboard for Lo-Fi PC speaker playback of Youtube type crud and a high quality one with SPDIF output to a decent amp.

    I want the music to go to the amp but it has no option to set the output device. It uses whatever the default audio device is. So in order to get it to output to the preferred soundcard I would have to change the default Windows device everytime.

    I have sent a request for this feature but seriously this kind of thing should be included by default. Most media players give some option to choose your output device these days.

    The complete lack of any overseas catalogue and indies also makes this a pile of crap. Could not find UK dance musos Hybrid on there. Nor any Jpop idols.

    It does feel responsive though and the quality seemd good. Better than iTunes by far. I just hope they can do better.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    160kb my foot

    Well if it is, it certainly wasn't produced with a decent codec. On the hi-fi, it sounds like an AM radio compared to 128 kb mp3s. Particularly bad at reproducing pianos.

    Nevertheless, it currently offers the widest non-pirate selection of music on the web.

  36. Adey
    Thumb Down

    OP knows nothing about the sound quality

    >Sound quality is so-so: at around 160kbps it's got that "standing outside the room" feel to it.

    Utter rubbish. 160kbs is above normal MP3 quality and very good. If you think it sounds like you are hearing it through a wall/door I suggest you sort your stereo out. Its more than fine and as good - or better than copies you get off P2P.

  37. W

    Re: Invites.

    No need for invites!

    Registration can be had for free at

  38. Chris Miller

    @Uses P2P

    How does that work? I'm not downloading a library of tracks to my PC, so unless two users are listening to the same track at the same time, there's no way for P2P to be of any use (either to Spotify or its users).

    I call BS.

    Spotify looks rather good - even though I've no interest in 'pop'.

  39. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Up


    I like it

    Fast responsive

    had mebbe 4 tracks out of 300 that would play.

    want floyd on there

    @Ac badly placed ads !!

    Well thats your own bloody fault you shouldnt of opted out of Phorm :P

    Quality wise Well i use 2x 125 studio monitors and for a streamed service its one of the best i have heard

    better than winamp radio for 1

    Hot keys work only when program on desktop which is a pity (but could be my setup)

    will happily recommend to friends and family

  40. Edward Miles
    Thumb Up


    Only one irritation: When I double click a song in search results, I only want to add that one song, NOT THAT AND EVERY SINGLE RESULT THAT CAME OUT BELOW IT

  41. Anonymous Coward

    No option to keep?

    /me looks wondering at krecord red button...

  42. Steve
    Thumb Up

    @Len Goddard - No free access

    I signed up yesterday evening for a free account with no problem - may be worth trying again?

  43. Dan S


    Support for linux would be better, however it was nice to see them supply easy to follow instructions for setting up with Wine. It worked very smoothly for me with Ubuntu 8.04LTS and Wine v1.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not that impressed

    The sound quality isn't great, I don't want to be pestered with adverts, and it's not as good as for finding cool new stuff.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    excellent for free

    i have it playing off a macbook into a Stanton mixer and Samson servo amp final lick out of a cheap pear of Eltac speakers from Richer Sounds. The quality is fine for a free online jukebox. There is also a lot more than 'pop' - I've just been playing Can and some Digital Hardcore from Atari Teenage Riot. Compared to the catalogue isn't yet as deep. People need to ralise its just come out of beta and launched. I think the criticisms on this board are unfounded.

  46. Steven Raith
    Thumb Up

    Sigh. Support for Linux...

    If you make a product that works perfectly under WINE, and you include very clear instructions of how to get WINE, then you don't *need* native Linux support IME.

    Liking this, works well, sounds OK through my 2.1 system, can't complain given it's for nowt!

    Steven R

  47. Adam
    Thumb Up

    Spotify & can work together.

    Spotify has got a Scrobbling client to send the tracks to I've been using this for a month and it works great on both Windows and Ubuntu with Wine.

    I'm yet to find someone who has actually used Spotify and said it is rubbish. Most people don't like the idea of it, until they start searching the Music catalogue.

  48. Alex

    Very good

    Spotify seems like a winner to me. There's plenty of good music and the interface is very clean and simple.

    Chances of me upgrading to the paid for service = 0% (although I might be tempted if they did a Windows mobile client for use at work).

    PS. Definitely no invite needed for the free service as of 200802140830.

  49. Toastan Buttar

    krecord red button...

    Yup, if you can be arsed going that route, there's nothing to stop you.

    However, I think the record industry got it right - 100% right - this time. They're giving you the chance to 'try before you buy' the entire track/album in a very convenient and let's face it - trusting manner. It would be bad show on our part not to seek out a paid-for permanent copy for use on players, whether that's on a CD or through a legitimate download site.

    Exploiting the 'analog hole' with Spotify to get free-as-in-beer music would confirm everything the industry says about file sharers - the very things that file sharers deny so loudly on forums everywhere (inc. El Reg).

    Jolly Roger, cos I didn't use the 'P' word.

  50. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    big puzzle

    The big puzzle is why the traditional recording industry thinks it has a right to survive in the 1920s form that it has perpetuated for so long.

    Entertainment changes all the time.

    Where are the sheet-music stores that used to be on every high street, in every department store?

    Where are the variety shows, at the end of the pier or on TV?

    What happened to Top of the Pops or the 6:5 special or Juke box Jury?

    When did you last go to a dance in a village hall?

    where are the music halls?

    Where are the Town Waits, combining music with guarding the walls?

    I think that the 'record labels' may well go the same way. I don't think they will be missed.

    Paris, cos she can normally spot when things have finished

  51. Robin Layfield

    don't forget the "mute" button

    I'm really enjoying Spotify. It's damn handy when you're out on the road and you don't have access to your music library. The adverts are a bit annoying but I've found after about 30 "we are the Energy Saving Trust" adverts, the simple application of the mute button for 30 seconds gets around this...

    all in all, thumbs up. A neatly thought-out music client that I would be prepared to subscribe to once they've got more material in the catalog.

  52. Simon Brown

    @Robert E A Harvey

    The "record labels" still perform a function which is to fund music. As someone "at the coalface" so to speak, I have limited resources to push my music though a plethora of opportunities. I can put it on myspace along with a million other songs, put it on youtube along with a million other songs, put it on whichever website is the "next big thing" along with a million other artists all scrambling to become the next big thing which most of us won't. I can enter a million competitions where I will be up against the next Arctic Monkeys, a woman who's old enough to know better singing middle of the road "funky pop" in front of a band of bored looking function band musicians and a band that sound kind of like a cross between Radiohead, U2 and Coldplay. We won't win because we sound kind of like a cross between The Band, Ryan Adams and Neil Young.

    I can get gigs but only the small ones because, even with a fanbase, no-one's heard of me. I can pay for my own recording but it won't sound as good as something done by a professional producer. I can release it myself but unless I pay for PR it won't get reviewed, I can send it to radio stations but unless I pay for expensive PR it won't get played, I can even send it in to tv stations but unless I spend tens of thousands on PR it will be ignored.

    Certainly with this level of exposure I'm unlikely to get a support slot on a tour which would expose the music to a whole new fanbase, I'm unlikely to get reviewed in a decent music magazine and I'm unlikely to make it in the music industry. Unfortunately in your suggestion, the record labels disappear - those would be the guys with the money to invest in a band that they might see has some potential.

    I wouldn't even bother writing all this if I didn't think our music was good. I've been a musiciain for 25 years and in my humble opinion am lucky enough to be working with one of the best songwriters I have ever met. He's really good. He runs his own commercial music company and did the music on the malteser ad (with the girls driving round the roundabout) and the Wales tourist board ad (with the welsh mud on the bikes) and the playstation ads with the midgets playing basketball. The music we're playing isn't fashionable but is sellable but probably not in the UK (where we are allergic to folk and country influenced music) and we would probably need a label to get behind us. Don't forget that a lot of the so-called DIY artists today who made it "online" and "without a record company" did no such thing - many of them WERE funded, just not overtly.

    For reference we are here: - your opinion is always welcome. Smiley. Why not?

  53. David Barr


    I've literally just stuck this on... and so far it's great. Haven't had an ad yet, but I've no issues paying for this if it's as good as it seems.

    Hopefully if it really catches on there will be DAPs that can use the service - let's hope they don't get their hands tied and end up just available on iPod or Zune.

    And hopefully they're will be some kind of client alternative that allows, for example, Foobar2000 to access the library.

    Finally perhaps they'll have lossless available at a little bit of a premium for those that want it.

    If they do all three then they'll get £20 a month off me forever.

  54. Jared Earle

    Wow, moon on a stick much?

    Spotify is so far so good. Yes, it's missing stuff, but I've been able to faithfully recreate compilation tapes I had in the 80s and 90s without a problem.

    However, I was once again surprised by the people here demanding the moon on a stick. Quality is as good as you need and no, you can't take it with you. This is a radio replacement not an iPod-filler.

    Some people will never be happy.

  55. William Dods
    Thumb Up

    Christmas for music lovers

    Can't agree with Jared more.This is probably the best thing to happen to music fans in several years.

    Instant streaming, no limit to number of times you can listen to a track, unlike Rapidly expanding catalogue, by my reckoning they've added over 200,000 tracks in the past week. Can't believe some people can't find anything on it to listen to, I've the opposite problem, just too much :-)

    It's not perfect and there are several things which could be done to improve the service, better search, recommendations, downloading, user defined charts etc but for something which is only a few months old is a revelation.

    I'm on the free version at the moment but would happily subscribe if only to prevent it being scuppered by short sighted record companies.

  56. D Baron
    Thumb Up

    like it

    Fed up with itunes stuttering so gave spotify a go and I love it, small on memory and cpu and a simple UI gets my vote.

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