It’s the one app music lovers in the United States want, and the one app they can’t get.Spotify is Europe’s insanely popular streaming music service. It’s only available in a few European countries such as Sweden (where the company is based), United Kingdom, Spain, and France.
With Spotify, you can stream music from the big four record labels (Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal) along with a nice selection from independent labels.
So why is it such a big deal?
Unlike similar services in the U.S. such as Rhapsody, Spotify lets you stream from it’s library of 10 million songs for free.
And that’s what really bothers the U.S. labels. Despite Spotify trying for years to come to the States, music labels are wary about letting people listen to their music for free.
Until they can work out a deal — and the fact that Spotify is opening an office in New York hints that one is close — you’ll only be able to use Spotify in Europe.
However, there are two workarounds that will let you try Spotify in the U.S. Both require you to trick Spotify into thinking your computer is located in another country so you can sign up and download the app. (This is done using something called a proxy server). If you want to try it, follow these links:
But you’ll only get to try Spotify temporarily. Spotify’s apps will allow you to access it “from abroad” (meaning outside one of the approved countries where it’s already available) for just 14 days. After that, it locks you out. That means U.S. users will have to create a new account every two weeks if they want to continue using the service.
It’s fun to try, and a great taste of things to come, but until Spotify officially comes to the States, you really won’t get the full experience.
How Spotify Works
With an account from Spotify, you can stream 10 million songs to your smartphone or computer. The desktop app looks a lot like iTunes. You can search for artists, songs, albums, etc. and create playlists to share with your friends over Twitter or Facebook. If you hear a song or album you like, you also have the option to purchase it from one of Spotify’s online music store partners.
With the ability to import songs stored on your computer and stream from Spotify’s online library, the desktop app is essentially an iTunes replacement.
The smartphone apps function much the same way, allowing you to browse, stream, and share music. However, you will need to sign up for a paid Premium account to take advantage of the mobile apps.
Free, Unlimited, And Premium Plans
Just because the service is free, does not mean you get unlimited use. Spotify only lets you stream three hours of music per week, at a maximum of 15 hours per month (in case a month bleeds into a 5th week).You’ll also have to listen to the occasional ad, just like you would on Pandora.
There are two paid plans, both allow you to listen to unlimited streaming music without ads:
The Unlimited plan, which costs £4.99 or €4.99 per month (less than $10 USD), will let you stream an unlimited amount of music without ads and import your current collection into the Spotify app from your computer.
The Premium plan costs £9.99 or €9.99 (around $15 USD) and adds even more features. You can store your Spotify music and playlists on your mobile device so you can still listen if you’re not connected to the internet. You also get higher quality music, that streams at a crystal clear 320 Kbps.
So What Makes It So Special?
In the end, Spotify isn’t too much different than Rhapsody. It’s paid plans are very similar to the ones Rhapsody offers ($10 per month). Plus with 10 million songs, Rhapsody’s library is around the same size as Spotify’s.
But as far as design and music sharing goes, Spotify is superior. You can share your favourite tunes and playlists with your friends and fellow Spotify users over Twitter and Facebook. Plus the interface is much easier to use than Rhapsody’s. The layout reminds us more of iTunes, which will make for an easy transition.
If you’re willing to pay for an all-you-can-eat music service, Spotify won’t be a game changer when it comes to the U.S. Chances are you’re using Rhapsody already. But for casual listeners, Spotify’s free streaming option will be a must have.