Spotify: The Best-Worst Startup; Facebook Needs to Run Things [In Depth Review]

Occupying most of the time I spend on my computer / the internet has been Spotify. It has been a huge pleasure using it, and I’m actually proud to say that it mostly, for me, replaces iTunes. Especially, iTunes Ping. Spotify flourishes where iTunes falters.

For those who aren’t familiar, I will quickly touch on what Spotify has been doing lately. Facebook. At f8 this year, (Facebook’s annual dev conference) they announced they would be taking music to a whole new level on Facebook. They’ve incorporated services like iheartradio, MOG, and most profoundly Spotify, directly into Facebook.

Spotify is surely the better pick of the bunch newly associated with Facebook. So I went with it, and surely I was more than satisfied. Going hand-in-hand with a webapp and a desktop application, it did what iTunes couldn’t, and flourished with it.

There are things I love about Spotify’s new move, and some things I’m not a fan of within the apps.

Read tons more + SCREENSHOTS after the break.

Features / Facebook Integration

On Facebook itself, there is a new “Music” tab on your left sidebar. It integrates all the above said new services. There you can find a general outlook of which friends are listening to music, which service they’re using, and what music they’re listening to in a multi-column environment.

—They’ve placed your “Real-Time Playlist” in a visible, convenient place on the top of your new “timeline.” Timeline hasn’t been officially released yet unfortunately, but it’s the future, so that’s what we’ll talk about. The Real-Time Playlist shows what you’re listening to at that exact moment, and what you’ve listened to recently, period. Usually, services are behind (not in real-time) on this—but with Facebook’s direct integration of Spotify—it begins to list what you’re listening to, as you listen to it. You will now always be able to view what’s “Now Playing.”

—What is killing me about this “Music” page is the lack of certain crucial content, and the sloppiness. There is too much “Music from artists you like” on the page and not enough of what your friends are actually listening to. Even the desktop application doesn’t show you a real-time playlist. You can only get that online, on your Facebook profile.

On their desktop application, there is a lot lacking. Sure there is a small “Share” button with the normal functionality we see from most blogs. A pop-up that includes sharing to services like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, and Windows Live Messenger. You can share an individual songs, albums, artists, and especially—custom playlists created right from Spotify, or ones imported from iTunes*.

—On the Facebook side of things, there is a sidebar on the right that shows all the friends that have begun using Facebook to login to Spotify. Clicking on a name brings up their public profile which only displays “Published Playlists” and your “Starred” songs. There is a space for “Top Artists” and “Top Tracks” but no content seems to be being pushed there.

—A small restriction being—if you would like to use the desktop application for free, you must have a Facebook account. They don’t give you a normal username and password unless you use the unlimited or premium plans*.

The worst part of all of this is the lack of a real-time playlist anywhere but your Facebook profile. There is no real social feeling here. It doesn’t feel like another social network. Spotify should have just expanded their own site—leaving them with a kick-ass standalone webapp. But no way, they had to get ahead of the other players, and get their brand out there, taking the easiest route—selling out, by using Facebook to shove your application into the hands of every user.

Replacing iTunes / Ping

I surprise some people when I tell them that I’ve chosen Spotify to replace iTunes. It’s not entirely true. I still need to use iTunes to load in my music from scratch, and there are a few downsides and restrictions that come with using Spotify as a default.

Spotify’s desktop app does almost everything you would need a desktop music library to do. You can import all of your music from iTunes automatically, all of your playlists, and you get an even better social network out of it.

—You can’t just start loading in music to the Spotify app. You need to load it into iTunes as usual, but Spotify does technically, “Import” your music library. It doesn’t actually copy it all over into another directory, it uses a Cache. I’ve seen other applications use a better method of iTunes import, but we’re stuck with this if we want all these tasty social features. The Cache technically doesn’t
“Import” your library but it sure leaves a mark in disk space. It indexes your music for offline listening whether you choose so or not. You’re looking at a large loss in disk space if you don’t mess with the “cap” in preferences. This cashes even the music you stream, for offline listening. (both streamed and imported files are cached)

—You can choose to show tracks from, “Music, Local, and Library.” This gets ridiculous. They’re all technically the same thing to the user because it doesn’t specify. This creates duplicate songs, and you end with 2 or 3 instances of the same song in your “Library.” It’s a mess. If anyone knows their way around this, be sure to let me know in the comments.

iTunes Ping is a few steps behind Spotify’s service, but not so many. Spotify has many more features than iTunes, yet it’s surely not as simple and streamlined.

—The ability to stream tons of full songs rather than just preview them or purchase them is a plus. I get to view what everyone is actually listening to versus just what they choose to share. It’s all automagically sent to the cloud, while in iTunes, you have to select the Ping dropdown on each song and share manually.

I really wish that Spotify would polish their desktop app, now that they are a huge service—integrated with a social giant, Facebook—to be more organized and feature-rich like iTunes. They need to get their shit together, but other than that, they’ve started something huge.

Account Nonsense

Not that iTunes has an online streaming service or anything.. iCloud will begin that saga, but we aren’t there quite yet. Spotify doesn’t have one either. Yes, you stream from the desktop app, that’s it*. If you go to their site, you can only download the app, or check your account settings.

—$9.99/month Premium accounts* offer offline streaming, an ad-free experience, unlimited streaming, and the ability to use Spotify on your mobile device. The problem here is, they’re not getting killed for their terrible mobile situation. You have to pay to use the “Free” iPhone and Android applications. You can’t even just stream with a cap on your bandwidth.

—$4.99/month Unlimited accounts* offer unlimited streaming and an ad-free experience. There’s nothing to that. They’re charging for practically nothing. I have a free Facebook account, and I’ve been streaming tons of music. The cap is quite high, yet I’m not really sure what it is.

They really need to work on their mobile views, and their prices. Why are they living through this?

In a Nutshell

Pros:

  1. Stream a bunch of music!
  2. Import iTunes library/playlists
  3. Share with Facebook and others
  4. Desktop application
  5. Multi-Platform mobile application
Cons:
  1. Terrible pricing options
  2. Lacking in many social features
  3. Ads move from Landscape/Portrait whenever they want?
  4. Facebook integration is lacking
  5. Pay for mobile?
  6. No real-time playlist in the APP itself?
Overall: There are so many things I cannot stand about this. They could have done it so much better. I hope they learn, but the way their pricing plans are looking, they don’t seem like a company that is going to learn from their mistakes. Hopefully Facebook can come in and start running shit. Facebook needs to get to work on this or hopefully it takes them down with it!
—But I do love having a free account, almost sharing with my Facebook friends, and being able to hear music that I didn’t have to purchase or download.
Readers: Please oh please tell me what you think about all of this. If anything needs some feedback, it’s all of this.
About these ads

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s