Tips, Internet, Testing, Product Reviews, Internet TrendsTechnology has changed the way we read, communicate, and even think so it’s no surprise that it has also changed the way we listen. From record players to cassettes to CDs to MP3s, music is always evolving. Our own tech hawk, Jim, has demonstrated this progression by creating a music compilation site, Box of Cassettes, which blends retro tech and images with current digital realms. When you enter the Website, you will see a message that indicates how many cassettes are in the box. The visuals include a creative mash-up of ripped labels and broken cassette cases complete with awesome music driven by cutting-edge computer programing. Today, music is provided by online streaming and here are some popular services and useful links.

Pandora - allows you to create stations based on a song, artist, or genre and suggests songs similar to your taste.

Grooveshark - similar to Pandora, this site recommends music through Grooveshark radio. It also lets you search for a specific song and play it instantly.

Google Music (Beta) / Amazon Cloud Drive - lets you access your music library from any computer without the hassle of syncing. (Beta) - a chatroom that streams the music choices of up to 5 user DJs, allowing people to discuss music choices and discover new songs from people all over the Internet.

With so many different features that cater to any musical need out there, it’s hard to believe that there could be a want for another. Enter Spotify, the Swedish-based music streaming site that has finally landed in the US. With so many critics buzzing and raving about it, the question that’s on everyone’s mind is what is so different about Spotify?

We here at SnapHawk are avid music lovers so when we heard about the US launch of Spotify, we immediately signed up (currently by invite only) and tested it out. Here are some reasons why we love it and how Spotify can improve.

1. Huge Music Selection

Thumbs Up - Sure, music collectors may have tens of thousands of songs in their library, but what if yours included 15+ million songs? With Spotify, you can search through the large catalog for the songs you want and create playlists. It allows you to basically create stations like on Pandora, but gives you the freedom to choose specific songs like on Grooveshark.

Thumbs Down - While you can search through Spotify’s large music library, you can’t actually physically look and scroll through the entire catalog, which makes music discovery more difficult. You may have access to 15 million songs, but it’s kind of hard to find cool new French pop songs if you are unfamiliar with the genre. Spotify says you can search by artist, song, or album, but you can also include more advanced search syntax, such as “genre:classical”. We tested this and found that it does not always work since “genre:rock” did not come up with any results. However, once you find an artist you like, you can click the name of the artist and Spotify will recommend “Related Artists” that you may like. You can also discover new music through Spotiseek, which is a site that creates Spotify playlists of related music based on what artist you type in.

2. Musical Integration

Tips, Internet, Testing, Product Reviews, Internet Trends

Thumbs Up - If you’re a Google Music or Amazon Cloud user, you know it can take hours or even days to upload your entire music library. Spotify can integrate your existing music library into its system (including playlists) instantaneously so there’s no uploading hassle if you’re considering switching over. No matter what computer you are on, you can access your Spotify library under several conditions.

Thumbs Down - With services such as Pandora, Rdio, Napster, etc., you can access music wherever you have a computer with wi-fi connection. A weakness of Spotify is that you have to download its software in order to access your account and library. This can be a major deterrent when you’re using a public computer at the library or a friend’s laptop and can’t download the program. Also, while you can view your entire library, you can’t access every file on different computers. The music you discover on Spotify is accessible on any computer once you sign in, but you won’t be able to play the local files stored on your own computer unless the song is already available for streaming on Spotify. So for example, you can play Lady GaGa’s newest album from any computer, but you can only listen to songs that are not in the Spotify catalog on your own laptop where the file was downloaded and stored.

3. A Modern Day Mixtape

Thumbs Up - A key feature of Spotify is that you can connect to your friends and share music via Facebook, Twitter, Windows Messenger, or Spotify itself. You can see which friends are using the service, share songs by dragging tracks onto a friends name, or view, play, and even subscribe to their playlists. If you’re concerned with your privacy, Spotify also allows you to specify what information you would like to make public, whether it be your Top Played Artists or specific playlists. Now, you can share endless mixtapes with your friends without ever having to burn CDs or download any files.

Thumbs Down
- Since Spotify is currently in its invitation-only phase (unless you pay for a monthly subscription) and is newer to release in the U.S., most likely not all of your friends or family will not be using the service. If you want to send a playlist to someone who isn’t signed up, he/she can’t access it unless they have an account and the Spotify program on their computer. This can be a major bummer if you tend to discover music through your friends and vice versa. If you enjoy using Spotify, increase awareness and invite your whole social circle! You won’t be able to take full advantage of all that Spotify can offer unless your friends and family are also on board, which may take some time.

Overall, Spotify is not without its kinks (like any other program), but it is definitely a service that music connoisseurs should check out. If you’re currently loyal to a specific service, my recommendation to you would be to still explore Spotify and use both websites simultaneously. No program incorporates every feature that you could possibly want, so using two different ones can complement each other for an affordable, optimal music experience that is spot on.