A Weekend with Spotify

AR-th_spotify-logo.jpgOn Friday I joined Spotify. I signed up for an early invitation sometime back in the distant past. So distant that I'd forgotten I'd registered for early acceptance. But after clicking the link in my invitation email, filling out some info and downloading the Spotify App for Mac, I was ready to Spotify myself.

First, for those who'd like some technical details on how Spotify works and what sort of fidelity to expect this will give you a decent grounding. At 160 kbs for the free and unlimited service and 320 kbs for the premium version, Spotify won't be blazing any new trails for high-resolution fans.

But even at 160 Kbps, Spotify sounds decent, if not darned good. Don't expect any sense of depth or dimensional imaging, but I heard excellent lateral focus and no disturbing digital compression artifacts during my initial marathon listening sessions.

I found Spotify's best ergonomic attribute was its ability to link one artist with another. The "Related Artists" feature encourages listeners to expand their musical horizons by exploring the links from one musician to another. I discovered Michael Miles, a banjo player with a sublime voice through David Long's "Related Artists.

From David Long I cruised over to The United States Little Grasscals, a 2002 Naxos World Music release featuring Mike Compton on mandolin. But oddly its "Related Artists" did not lead to Mike Compton, but did include Dale Ann Bradley, Harvey Reid, and Jarrod Church, which led to Cathy Fink. Unlike most of these "obscure" roots musicians, Cathy Fink even had a bio page, as did Peter Rowan. Some artists, such as Jimmy Gaudreau, were represented by incomplete discographies. In two days of searches and artist relating I didn't find anything I didn't already have from the artists I regularly follow. So if you're looking for rare live performances I suspect that Spotify won't be your best bet.

Spotify is not without it's operational quirks. On Tatiana Hagreaves Started Out to Ramble the leading cut "Raleigh and Spencer" was utterly silent - it just didn't play. "Foreign Lander" off the same album also was a no-show. Some of Jill Sobule's songs also were listed in Spotify's library but failed to materialize when their time came in my cue. This may be due to Spotify's peer-to-peer methodology. These songs may not have been in Spotify's main database, but instead on peer computer that was not currently on-line.

After only one weekend with Spotify I can easily see why it will garner lots of fans. If you are looking for a new tool for finding fresh music, here's one that could even replace FM radio.

Heck, I might even spring for premium membership...someday...

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