Ever since I first discovered I could scrobble my Spotify plays to my Last.fm account I’ve been hooked on the mean-green-music-player. This was around the time that I’d abandoned my former mean-green-music partner, Limewire, in search of more… legal pastures. What I found so great about Spotify was that I could listen endlessly to all of my favourite artists and albums while sat at my computer, but if I wanted to put music on my mp3 player I would still have to buy CDs or downloads.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pretending that I’m some kind of music-listening Saint here (see previous allusions to Limewire). Just because I moved away from my large-scale downloading days doesn’t mean I don’t have occasional lapses for those tracks that I just have to own right this very minute and second! But for my everyday music listening needs, Spotify has become the music player I have most relied on. I say “has”… this position had become threatened of late…
It was back in April that Spotify announced “Upcoming changes to Spotify Free/Open“. Like all other Spotify Free users, who had previously rejoiced in their unrestricted status (with the smug sense of satisfaction that we had got in there before the masses), I panicked. “What, no more free, unrestricted listening?! Disaster!” But funnily enough, for me at least, this panic quickly subsided. I ended up thinking that £4.99 a month was really quite reasonable for the amount that I used the service. Thoughts like “well I could happily give up my Lovefilm subscription for it” replaced the panicked ones as I cherished the last few days of my precious free and unrestricted listening.
Once the restrictions came in I lasted about 5 days before I both ran out of my 10hr usage limit and exceeded my 5 plays per song on an entire album. Lovefilm were proving difficult to cancel with, so I was stuck. It was time to investigate other sources of music listening. I had already tried to grapple with mflow but had failed to be impressed. SoundCloud had been a friend for a while, especially when Manchester Orchestra had posted their entire new album on there for our streaming pleasure. But its Last.fm incompatibility made me continue my search and a similar problem existed with Grooveshark (after all, what’s the point in listening to anything if it can’t be scrobbled?! More on this later…) HypeM provided some solace (yes, it scrobbles!), but it just didn’t cut it in terms of a music player.
It’s not like I don’t own enough music to keep me going, mind you. There are tracks on my hard-drive that I didn’t even know that I had. But then disaster struck. Let me set the scene a little for you. I have a laptop. It overheats on a regular basis to the extent where I thought it would be a good idea to buy an external hard-drive, just in case disaster did indeed strike. I copied all of my music onto the new hard-drive and all new music went onto the external too. Needless to say, I dropped the external one-too-many times and it stopped working. So now half of the tracks I own are now lost forever in a broken hard-drive. This was the final straw. I rang up Lovefilm again and insisted they cancel my account. I upgraded to Spotify Unlimited the very same day.
I don’t hold anything against Spotify. For the service that it provides I am happy to pay £4.99 a month (and for a starving student, this does appear to be a daunting sum of money). But for someone like me who uses it as much as I do, I feel that it’s justified. I also don’t think that those of you who have chosen to remain with the limited service should abandon ship so readily. No, 10hrs a month doesn’t seem like a lot, and 5 plays certainly won’t cut it for those favourite tracks. But, without getting into a “should music be a free commodity?” argument, I do think that even with these restrictions, it’s still useful for sampling and discovering artists that can then be found on other music platforms.
In light of this, it’s my intention to finish every post with a Spotify link to a track that you should make sure you listen to. Who knows, it could inspire you to go out and buy the whole album! Or find a handy torrent somewhere…