Free Spotify Complicates Things

Technology continues to complicate the media landscape. The other day I learned on the Fedora Planet how to send Pulse Audio over the net – allowing one computer to listen to music (or other audio) from another. But, in the context of music, who cares? I have all my music on Google Music. I can just plug my phone into the sound system and listen to music (or any other speakers). This also eliminates my need to use DLNA / uPNP servers/clients to play my music. (They never worked all that well anyway)

Up until recently, it never made sense for me to sign up for Spotify. $10/month – I just didn’t spend that much on music – even on average. Most years I only buy 2-3 albums. Now it’s free – even for mobile. (Although free mobile only has access to a Pandora-like experience) Although the web player’s scrobbler is annoyingly broken, there are Google Chrome extensions I can install to fix that. So now what should I do for music?

With my situation, I don’t want to pay any more for music than I am now and don’t really want to waste the data plan on listening to Spotify in the car. So anything I want to be able to listen to in the car needs to be purchased so I can copy it to Google Music and then d/l it to the phone. If I want to be able to pick exactly want I want to listen to in the house, I either need to be on a laptop or buy the music so I can have it on Google Music.

So now I’m left asking myself – how badly do I want to listen to this whenever and however I want? Is it worth the money? And many psychologists have shown this is bad for the music because I am putting a dollar value instead of focusing on entertainment value. Although, with some musicians – like Taylor Swift – I don’t have a choice. Buy it or don’t listen. The question is – what do people do in the long run? And what if the musician thinks they’re more powerful than they are when they make that choice? Do they burn their good will?

Of course that makes me think of the ethics; this is getting pretty tiresome. Did people die for these diamonds? Were these fruits raised the right way? And now, is this artist getting paid for entertaining me?

Just as tablets, texting, and smartphones evolved in my mind as I saw various utilities when the technologies matured, there’s an interesting evolution of thought with all-you-can-experience vs outright ownership. Do I just watch movies when they’re rotated in and out of Netflix? It’s not too different from my childhood when I’d catch my favorite movies when they were on USA or TNT. Same with books and now music. Of course, I like to listen to the same songs over and over while the length (and other factors) make that much less practical for movies and books. Right now the only definite benefit to owning media is that it’s yours for as long as you can keep from losing it – theft, hard drive crash, home fire, etc. Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, and anywhere else you don’t truly own the media can take it away for any reason – creators don’t want it there, censorship, you piss them off (Steam basically says in their agreement that if you piss them off you lose all your games), etc.

And the only definite benefit to Spotify, et al is the ability to sample songs and/or albums at longer than a 30 second clip (mostly eliminating the “I d/l it to sample it” argument). Speaking of which, while I’m not hugely into pop music I like that Spotify has a Tuesday playlist of the new music that came out. It’s nice to be conversant in the new stuff even if I’m not going to listen to it more than once. I know WordPress supports Spotify playlists; we’ll see if this works. (Also I don’t know if you need to be signed in to Spotify to see the resulting playlist)


2 responses to “Free Spotify Complicates Things”

  1. I started paying for Spotify this year. Mostly because I got really annoyed that they let me have the mobile version for free and then clamped down on all the features.

    The biggest thing I like about premium Spotify is offline mode. Losing signal while running and then not having music is the worst! And on airplanes when I don’t have data running. I also like finding other people’s running playlists that are geared for X miles/hr because I’m extra lazy about making my own and finding songs that are the right speed.

    Also – not sure if your brothers are users, but Spotify offers family plans now. So if one person is paying $10, up to five others can use for $4.99.

    Side note: I also felt Spotify had the worst commercials. For some reason it was always either for 1) spotify premium or 2) movie trailers which are terrible in audio format.

    • I’m sure they’d be happy to hear their strategy is working for getting people to pay. Those are some pretty good reasons to pay. I know when it comes to Google music I love the ability to pre-d/l so I don’t need to pay for data when I’m out and about. The playlist sharing is neat. Are you not able to do that on mobile?