Finally, it's here. Two years ago I discovered Spotify – a streaming music service – while in Britain. Because of IP identification it hasn't been accessible within New Zealand, but just last week, we got a surprise pass and Spotify is now open to Kiwis.
So here's the deal. Spotify is a streaming music service that lets you search for songs, artists and albums, and play them instantly without download. The offerings aren't "limited" as one might expect – everything from top tunes to indie LPs can be found on the service.
It is available in three different forms, the first of them free, but ad-supported. Spotify Free is on-demand music, gratis, with access to more than 16 million songs. Streaming is unlimited, and the listening experience is radio-like, with advertisement interruptions.
Spotify Unlimited costs $7.49 per month. It's the same service as Spotify Free, only without the barking ads.
The third form of service, Spotify Premium, is where it gets a bit more revolutionary. For $12.99 (still a bargain, really), you can access songs both online and offline, plus on your mobile devices such as iPhone or iPad. You can sync up to 3333 songs to your computer or device for offline listening – and you get enhanced sound quality over the Free and Unlimited services.
Once you've downloaded the Spotify program on your Mac or PC and started listening, it gets interactive. All Spotify services link seamlessly into Facebook, and tell your friends what you're listening to in the social network's activity feed. Similarly, you'll see your friends' listening choices and can easily click on the post to hear the same song yourself.
The interactivity between friends possible with Spotify's sharing experience makes music more social than ever before. While you can create and share your own playlists, a brilliant Spotify feature is Collaborative Playlists. You can form a team of friends and all contribute songs, and each team member will enjoy a synced version of the most up-to-date list immediately.
If you're familiar with iTunes you'll find Spotify's usability reasonably straightforward, as its design and functionality are very similar.
A new world of free (or nearly free music) is just a few clicks away, so check out spotify.com/nz and give it a whirl.. Watch your bandwidth if you have a light plan.
- © Fairfax NZ News