Fifteen million songs. Absolutely free; absolutely legal.
October 23 will mark the 10th anniversary of the original iPod, a revolution that made Apple a cultural touchstone and, perhaps more importantly, drove the final nail into the coffin of giant CD storage towers as acceptable home decor. Millions of us would eventually be able to lower the sun visor on our morning drive without fear of being smacked in the forehead by A Decade of Steely Dan and the other nine CDs we’d acquired for just 1 penny and a lifetime of harassment from Columbia Records. Right up there with fire and the wheel, this was.
But a decade is like a millennium in technology years. The iPod is as dated as a Members Only jacket next to the coolest export from Sweden since ABBA: Spotify. The service has been legal in Europe for years but has only recently secured the rights to operate in the U.S. Free memberships were on an invite-only basis until last week when they were thrown open to everyone (everyone with a facebook account, that is).
Streaming music? Big freaking deal: Pandora’s been doing it for years, you say. Spotify is a quantum leap forward, 15 million tracks versus only about 800K for Pandora, the ability to integrate your personal music library into your selections, and the ability to create and share playlists. For example, here’s a little one with a few selections from artists scheduled to perform this fall at Wednesday’s at the Square. You can check it out once you’ve downloaded the Spotify software.
Spotify comes in three flavors: Totally free, which contains ads, Unlimited for $4.99 per month which eliminates the commercials, and Premium for $9.99 which also allows unlimited streaming to any mobile device. If you’re a music freak, this moves the needle. Instead of an algorithm feeding you music ‘like’ something else, a la Pandora, you can listen to the actual song you want to hear. Imagine that. There’s a ‘Related Artists’ tab, perfect for discovering new music, and an ‘Artist Radio’ tab if you do want that lean-back Pandora approach.
Spotify’s by far the best take on streaming music I’ve ever seen, good enough to forgive Sweden for that whole Dancing Queen thing. All the cool kids are doing it, so you should check it out.