This is the music page
February 26, 2013
February 22, 2009
Being an avid Napster user and subscriber (I consume a fair bit of music you see) I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Napster offer a web based music streaming client which is based on their desktop counter part. This means that you can access your Napster library from anywhere so long as there is an internet connection and flash installed on the computer (sorry iPhone users – so so close…). They kept the news pretty quiet and, I assume, they bundled the feature in with the recent update of the Napster client.
Why is this particularly awesome news? Well it may just be the missing piece to the Spotify/iTunes equation – a music download service (traditional Napster) combined with a music streaming service that is open to all content (web based Napster). So you listen to the music – create playlists, explore new sounds etc etc, and then you download (i.e. pay or subscribe to Napster to go) the music tracks you want to shove on an mp3 player.
Unfortunately it’s all a little too good to be true… 1) Napster is DRM protected – so no go for ipods I’m afraid. 2) The interface is no where near as intuitive and easy as Spotify (or even iTunes). 3) The quality of the Spotify stream seems to be better.
Spotify is the current golden boy of the internet world – soon the music explosion will take off and EVERYONE will have a Spotify account, even if they don’t use it. Why? Because it’s free. Napster on the other hand is not – in any way. In reality people who are reminiscent of Napster’s glory days are probably a little annoyed about the whole “gotta make a buck” business model. For those who use Napster, it has evolved into a fantastic legitimate music service with the web based music streaming being seen as a nice addition. However for those who don’t use Napster, I doubt the web streaming is going to convert anyone.
P.S. if you are interested, the napster web based service can be found on their website and anyone can use it so long as you have a subscription account with Napster (Napster light users are limited to 30s).
February 19, 2009
gotta get me some of those tasty tunes…
Spotify is a music streaming application that uses a desktop media player interface to allow you to browse through a catalogue of tracks owned by major record labels. It has been in development for awhile, but most importantly it has the backing of the major record labels so all of it’s content is legal. It is also ad funded – yes the ads are intrusive rather than passive (audio ads that play after every 10 songs or so) but that is a small cost and hey, they might be useful… someday.
Now Spotify never claims to replace all music streaming websites. It would be foolish to think that it is infact a competitor to services such as Pandora or Lastfm. Both aforementioned sites offer an established service that plays to the “experience” facet of music – rather than actively deciding on your musical journeys you can leave the music to the track selection algorithm based on your musical likes and dislikes. Lastfm/Pandora expect you to be … absorbant like a sponge. Spotify on the other hand relies on your interaction with the player – creating playlists, searching for music and physically (well digitally) selecting the music you want to hear. In this vain it is much more like the mp3 media libraries that have become so intrinsic in today’s consumption of music. This may be both a blessing or it may be it’s future downfall… let’s assume that the simplicity of use and the familiarity is a good thing.
As standard you have to set up an account with them in order to use the service which comes in three flavours – the standard free access (ad funded), the 24 hour pass (no ads) and the monthyl subscription (again no ads). I suppose this is for the potential of added social aspect such as sharing playlists with other members. You can also link your Spotify account with a Lastfm account and scrobble away… as I said previously Spotify is not so much a competitor of familiar streaming music players as a different beast altogether.
So cut to the chase – why won’t we be seeing Spotify on the iphone anytime soon? Well I’m sure you have come to the same conclusion as I have – it looks like the streaming equivalent of iTunes. Not just in functunality – the skin even looks like iTunes (check out the circular controls, the search bar, even the greyness!).
But then again, iTunes doesn’t stream music so why should Apple care? Spotify could add another facet to it’s music service by adding an option to purchase streamed tracks from iTunes keeping Apple… sweet. Currently Spotify does not have any such functunality and as such music featured on the service is tied to an internet connection. Also, Spotify does not download full mp3 tracks – rather music tracks seem segmented to prevent any unwanted piracy… possibly… this is a quick conclusion after an even quicker look at the temporary download folder. My point – Spotify is for streaming and thus music whilst your stationary – iTunes is for the pod.
But this hasn’t stopped Apple from allowing streaming music applications onto the iPhone. The Lastfm is one (and only..?) application that has enjoyed some reasonable success on the platform. So Apple isn’t altogether against the idea of using the iPhone as a music streaming device and allowing third party developers to develop these services. However Spotify is not Lastfm. They offer two different services – and the Lastfm iPhone application makes this very clear. Whilst you can start a new station within the Lastfm app, that’s where the search ability ends. For Spotify to work as an app, a search functunality would have to allow the user to browse through Spotify’s catalogue of music. The user would then select an album or build a playlist from selecting tracks from multiple search results. And doesn’t that sound just too iTune-like. Apple are reknowned for protecting their intellectual properties – be it hardware (palm) or software (countless thanks to the restrictions in place on the old App Store). They have made it quite clear that they are unlikely to allow any application that duplicates functunality of Apple iPhone applications (they have only recently allowed alternative but basic iPhone web browsers. In it’s current state Spotify would be unlikely to make it past the starting line.
Of course this article is all speculative – I’m not entirely sure what Spotify has in the pipeline when it comes to expanding their product line into the mobile platform. In theory Spotify could be a great way of promoting iTunes if they worked in conjunction with one another. If Spotify was able to link directly to the iTunes store then there could be a fantastic “try before you buy” element to the iPhone music offerings. Yet, the more I think about it, the less convinced I am that this is a viable option. I mentioned previously that iTunes does not stream music; infact it does. But only for 30s max. Whose to say that iTunes isn’t taking notes on Spotify’s successes in readiness for a streaming feature of their own.
Finally would Spotify really work on the iPhone? Sure it would be great when in range of a strong wi-fi connection, but for 3G it is likely the buffering would render the seemless streaming unworkable. Especially if the signal fluctuates. I suppose one simple possibility could be a playlist storage application whereby you construct a Spotify playlist to listen at home – but this just sounds like a notepad. If anyone has any suggestions about how a Spotify iPhone app could work please let Spotify know. I’m sure they will be VERY interested!
Just found a blog that contained a potential visual of the iPhone Spotify app. – Don’t know whether it’s the real deal but it looks quite nice… still heavily question whether it will make it onto the platform in that form.
here is the vid
So I was horribly wrong and should perhaps stop predicting things like iphone apps and the like… I tried the Spotify app on my iphone just before 2010 and it was quite nice – subscription required but that was fair enough. The nice feature was the fact that you could download the tracks for offline mode which meant that the longer tube journeys and the out and aboutness was catered for… and that was the start of my love for spotify! I’ve been a subscriber since way early 2010 and really do love the accessibility of the app on my android phone (Samsung Galaxy S2 for those interested). The only problem is that some artists are pulled from the catalogue which conversely effects the predownloaded tracks when the app syncs with the database… but I guess these things happen yoooooooo…!