Spotify opened its doors to the United States this morning. For those who don’t know, Spotify is an on-demand music streaming service, sort of like Grooveshark or Rdio. I can’t help comparing Spotify to Grooveshark since I’ve used Grooveshark for so long, so there will be many references to Grooveshark in this post. The big thing that makes Spotify different is that its primary service is for the desktop, which has made killing my browser less likely than working with Grooveshark. Spotify also has automatic scrobbling support to Last.fm for free users, unlike Grooveshark where the service is available only to subscribers. I use a Greasemonkey script, Groovin’ Greasy Scrobbler, to get the scrobbling functionality in Grooveshark.
The good about Spotify: It’s a desktop app and is designed to be your music player. Its mobile app is also useful to nonsubscribers in that you can sync your music collection across devices and listen to it on the go. The fun parts of the app are for subscribers, but at least the app is still usable for nonsubscribers. Compare to Grooveshark, where the app is subscriber-only.
The middling part: Spotify’s Linux support. This is irrelevant to Grooveshark since it’s a web app. When I visited the page to get Spotify, it warned me that since I use Linux, my device wasn’t officially supported; however, I could use the preview Linux build or run Spotify with Wine. I decided to give the former a shot, even though Spotify warned that it was for subscribers only thanks to the lack of way to show reliable ads. Pfffft. Screw that. I added Spotify to my repository, installed, and sure enough, they were right. Spotify works fine with Wine, though. Hooray.
The not quite as great: Spotify’s selection is good but not quite as good as Grooveshark in my experience. This is coming from someone with somewhat obscure tastes in music. Free users hear ads after every four or so songs. I know the Spotify team has to pay the artists, and most of the ads aren’t extremely annoying. In fact, most of them are Spotify-related. But hearing a clip of a rap song after an ambient song is going to be jarring. I probably won’t be using Spotify for writing, even though I prefer fast music for writing.
So far Spotify is invite-only and is offering unlimited listening to free users. Both of those could change. The latter part did for European users. I don’t have any invites yet. This could also change.
The verdict? Give it a shot if there’s a track not in your collection that you really want to listen to. I may subscribe if I like the free service enough, have the money, and want to get rid of the ads, but for now, the free service may be okay. I’ll definitely be turning to Grooveshark a lot for more obscure stuff, so I’m not a total Spotify convert yet.