Spotify definitely isn’t the future for music. So what is?

Rant ahead, move along if you aren’t interested.

My final update on Spotify. I gave up. I cancelled and there will be no more chances now. They have lost me permanently. Content-wise, it was far better, with a lot of stuff I wanted now available, albeit they have the same probs scanning in albums as me, with some tracks mixed up. I don’t mind paying £5 per month to ditch the ads and stream, which is what I thought I’d bought. It implied very strongly when I subscribed that I could stream it, but it turned out that wasn’t true. My squeezebox insisted I couldn’t use it because I need a premium subscription. Apparently the £5 per month one isn’t sufficient. I wasted a little cash but I will survive. I played 10 songs during the trial period, and had it 3  months, and that is the same price as buying them, which is easier to do and I can play them anywhere. If I can’t play stuff via my squeezebox, I don’t want it.

There is one other fault that is worthy of mention. When I wanted to cancel, I couldn’t find Spotify on my PC any more. It had totally vanished. That has happened a few times before. I didn’t remove it, it just left. Why they should remove an application I am actively paying for is totally beyond me. That really is the final straw. I’m done with them. I recommend you find an alternative if you’re shopping around too.

I know many of you have a good experience with it. I didn’t, and I’ve now given them several chances. It isn’t user error. I’m not thick. Spotify works for some people on some devices. It doesn’t work for me on mine. Bye bye Spotify. I’ll try an alternative.

The following is my original piece, what I wrote above is just an  update. Just bear in mind that some is now out of date.

 

Old blog follows:

So, I just cancelled my Spotify premium account. I gave it a good try – just over a year, so that’s over a hundred quid, and I reckon because of the problems using it I have listened to about 100 tracks over that time. Pretty poor value for me. It can be used, but is so difficult to use with my setup, I hardly ever did. And when I tried, usually the licenses had expired so it would spend ages downloading them again before it would let letting me listen. And usually several of the tracks on each playlist were no longer available. And worse still, on three occasions over that time, the whole application has gone missing off my PC spontaneously and I have had to download it afresh.

When I just want to listen to a music track, I don’t want to have to find the Spotify page, download the app again, wait ages while it installs, resyncs a few hundred tracks across all my playlists, clogging up my internet access for ages, log in again, figure out why it won’t talk my Squeezebox any more, fix the complaints by the software that my Squeezebox is logged in so I cant log in via my PC, put up with the inexplicably bad interface to the Squeezebox, wondering why the hell I can’t just use my PC version and then click a button to stream it, then take a trip to the lounge to change channel on my media system, then come back, switch off the one on playing on my PC speakers at the same time, and then figure out which of the two playlists I now have up is the right one, and then work out that the reason it isn’t playing the one I want to listen to is no longer available from Spotify, then figure out how to go back to the Squeezebox interface and find it on my hard drive from my CD collection, then play that, then wonder how I get back onto Spotify without losing the track playing, then try to find which playlist I had going…. etc etc.

Spotify does not work for me. It is better than Napster, but only on a 3/10 score is better than a 1/10 score basis. Both are total rubbish when used with a Squeezebox in another room. Part of that is the Squeezebox’s (Logitech’s) fault, part Spotify’s but if they have an agreement to work together, and claim to do so in their sales pitches, then it is both their faults. My Squeezebox is wonderful when it works. When!

So that’s why I cancelled. I clicked the ‘don’t use enough’ button on their form, but couldn’t click all the others that applied because they only permit one option. I didn’t use it enough because it is total crap. The only reason I didn’t cancel earlier is because I kept forgetting to.

Spotify is fine on just my PC, but then I don’t need the streaming, so the free one is fine, I just turn down my speakers when the adds come on.

OK, let’s move on from Spotify and my darned Squeezebox. I like listening to music, when it’s easy. When I used CDs I listened frequently. Then I got my first MP3 player, and much later various iphones. I have never used any of them more than a few minutes at a time. Having all your music on an easy button click means that with my hamster-like attention span, I hit a new track every few seconds and my enthusiasm quickly burns out. A kid in a sweet shop soon gets sick. And anyway, my iPhone battery seems to be empty every time I pick it up. Another piece of crap but that’s Apple for you.

I use my PC to store all my CD music, and rarely use them now. One problem I have and I am sure must share with others is that on iTunes some tracks get misnamed or worse still, just come over as unknown. I made the huge mistake once of letting iTunes reorganise my library and everything got so screwed up I had to scan in all my CDs again. I own about 20 tracks I bought from Amazon or Napster. They are on my PC, but are always hard to find when I use the media server or Squeezebox because the interfaces are bad. So even there, with music I own, on my own PC, listening is OK to a point, but still has loads of problems. I am listening to a playlist right now and picked ‘play all’, but I still have to go into the Logitech screen every track to make it play the next one instead of  letting it repeat the same track endlessly. It doesn’t work! It isn’t my fault. I am reasonably smart and have 30 years IT experience. If I can’t use it, it is designed badly. Simple as that.

I have a new Freesat system with a hard drive, and am told I can use that to store and play my music. I’ll reserve judgement on that till I try it. I haven’t plugged it in yet.

The future

So how do I get music? I don’t want to use a personal MP3 player all the time. What I really want is to be able to just see a big swathe of album covers, preferably virtual ones hanging in space in front of me, and touch one, then pick the track, or do all that with a playlist. Or speak a voice command, or use a simple search tool by .

When I play it, I want to watch the music video, and I want music made for full 7.1 surround, not bloody stereo. I want to feel I am there in the studio or concert. I want full sensory, full immersion music, with every sense stimulated in synch.

I don’t mind paying. I have never listened to a track I don’t have the legal right to listen to. That never has been an issue. I have bought a lot of what turned out to be rubbish and I’d like a refund please. Same with all the many dupes I own. Can I sell them please? Also, can I give in all my vinyl LPs and get lifetime licenses to digital version please? But I won’t hold my breath on that.

I want to pay a subscription to something a bit like Spotify, but a more professional one that sort of works. I want access to all the other music. And when I spend time making  a playlist, I don’t want to find 20% of the tracks won’t play next time I access it. I want it to integrate seamlessly with my owned tracks, in the correct sense of the word, not exaggerated sales hype. And I want to be able to point at any set of speakers in my house, or anywhere else for that matter and stream it from there, now. I don’t want to fight battles with software or have to log in to anything, or to update software, or re-establish internet connections, or be told I cant use it in the lounge because I am logged on in the office.

The music industry insists on being paid. But by doing so in such clumsy and badly implemented ways, they have destroyed any pleasure from listening to music and alienated countless customers. I tried to buy CDs, but Apple can’t copy them properly onto my PC. My PC can’t stream them reliably through my Squeezebox because of Microsoft and Logitech. No music subscription service I can access on the Squeezebox is any good at all. So I’ll keep the money in my bank account. I listen to music so much less now because it’s such a pain, so the novelty doesn’t wear off any more, so I have enough. A small loss to the global music industry perhaps, but many others aren’t willing to pay at all so I am part of the group they needed to keep on board. For 20 years they have been trying to get a working business model. This isn’t it.

Spotify aimed at the future, and missed.

6 responses to “Spotify definitely isn’t the future for music. So what is?

  1. Sorry, but this is known as “whingeing”. I have a Spotify account. I use a pretty ancient Windows XP desktop connected to a good 1980′s Hi-fi. The result has been fantastic. I am delighted with the service Spotify provides, and have not encountered ANY of the problems you describe! £5 a month for access to virtually all the music I am interested in verses £10 for one averagely priced CD? No contest!

    • I am pleased you enjoy Spotify but that doesn’t affect my experience of it. That it works happily for one person on their system and not for another person on another system demonstrates that it is not the future for music.

  2. Reblogged this on Jukkasoft's Blog and commented:
    A fine example of the problems of monetizing in the age of digitization.

  3. Spotify and other services ARE more than likely the future of music. Physical album sales have been on a downward trend since the mid 1990′s. Streaming services provide nearly any album at anytime for around $10/month; a great value if you’re a frequent listener. Furthermore, if you’re relying on iTunes to rip audio CDs, you need to look further. Encoders such as ‘Max’ provide over 40 compressed and uncompressed file types that are metadata writable. Just because you think the service is crap does not mean streaming services won’t prevail in our ever-expanding wireless, digital world.

    • Well, I do think it is crap. User experience will always vary between users of course. If it works for you, and provides the music you want to listen to, and you don’t find major difficulties using it on your setup, that is great. It might prevail if enough other people are also happy with it. For me, it is just about OK when used directly on my PC, though it certainly doesn’t have all the albums I want by a long chalk. It falls an order of magnitude below acceptable quality when used to stream via my Logitech Squeezebox. If Spotify claim to provide a streaming service via the Squeezebox, and that appalling interface is really the best they can do together, I remain extremely unimpressed and still think that the future of music will be a great deal better than their current offering.

  4. I think streaming services are the future of music content delivery. Many people now use things like Youtube to listen to music and people are getting accustomed to just playing music. Ownership is no longer important for people.
    Having said that, I believe streaming music through services like Spotify is a stupid idea. When your subscription ends, so does access to the music. I cannot afford it at the moment so it means I lose all the music I was listening to on there. I think subscription models empower the content providers, not the artists and nor the consumer. It is probably also fair to say that often there are licensing issues that may lead to removal of a particular record company or artist’s catalogue. As such, you will no longer have access to that music. I think if you own music you can at least continue to enjoy it. I’d ratherbpaybforvcd’s then throw

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