Written by 11:09 pm Audiophile Music

A Weekend with Spotify

Spotify is a music service that has been available in Europe for some time but is just now making its way to the United States. How does the service perform? Are there any interesting and unique features? Find out here.


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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