I've just stumbled upon, thanks to Claire, a great new source of listening to the music I want to, when I want to, without actually paying for it: Spotify.
The guys behind Spotify seem to actually understand the way music is going. It's no longer about ownership (I can't remember the last time I bought a CD), but about access and enjoyment. Spotify is just that: a way of accessing and listening to a wide range of music when you want, without the delays or hassles of downloading, syncing,
stealing, I mean borrowing someone else's backup, and all legally and without costing you a penny (except maybe for the broadband costs). Just fire up the software on your computer (PC and Mac only at the moment, though you can run Spofity under Wine on Linux) and start listening.
Now you may be asking "But how can this be free?" Well simple really: it's advertising-funded, and from what I've experienced so far, it's very little in the way of advertising when you compare it to commercial radio stations. So far I've found the software interface shows ads (but not all the time) and you get an audio advert approximately every 5 - 8 songs, though I suspect it's time based rather than song count based. If you don't want adverts you can pay the monthly subscription fee of £9.99 for a premium account. A premium account is required if you want to whip out your C compiler and start developing your own application that interacts with the Spotify API.
From my playing around this afternoon, Spotify is like a cross between iTunes and last.fm on steroids. In fact, I'd say this is what last.fm dreams of becoming. You can also scrobble the songs you play in Spotify to last.fm.
The client software is very easy to use and very intuitive. Here are a few screenshots for your enjoyment.
Unfortunately, there is two downsides to this great application that I can see, though neither really bother of affect me:
- You can't put this music onto your iPod, however you can right click on a track and purchase it from a choice of resellers (which is a bit limited at the moment)
- The free accounts are only available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, France and Spain. Other countries should be able to use the Premium service though.
All in all, this is a fantastic application and a great way to listen to absolutely tons of music, on your computer, for free. It's also great to see a fantastic application and service offered to European countries BEFORE the US. We often are the last to get such great apps and generally can't take full advantage when we do.