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An Open Letter to Spotify From an Android User.

UPDATE: Spotify have released a preview for their next Spotify version which looks like a major overhaul. Hit up this blog post for more!

Dear Spotify

I have been using Spotify Premium for something like 4 years now. I love Spotify, I think it’s one of the best things ever, but why do you not care about your Android users? It’s not just me that’s annoyed with the Spotify Android app – just look at the reviews on Google Play:

Spotify on Google Play

Spotify on Google Play

That’s a lot of 1 star ratings! And there are a lot of people with similar complaints to me and we’re all being ignored.

The majority of the problems I have are as follows:

  • Your app is INCREDIBLY unresponsive. It’s hardly pushing the CPU, GPU, or network connection when you first open it and want to choose some music, so why does it take up to 20 seconds of being totally unresponsive before you can even scroll down the first screen?
  • Playlist management is awful. It’s complicated enough to manage your playlists in your app, but if you choose to attempt it, you get 17 seconds of music before the app restarts itself. This includes starring a track. This is just unacceptable.
  • Why can you only long-press tracks/albums in the search results or a playlist? I want to do it within an album listing, surely that’s not asking too much?
  • Local music. If people plan on putting more than a few tracks from your PC onto your phone to play within your app, they’d best be prepared to have no options about how they’re listed, and which order they play in. No album or artist listings here, just a long list of tracks.
  • Offline tracks (as synced through your app, not local music) get lost if you have to reinstall. I keep my offline files on the SD card, they’re still there, why are you rebuilding them?
  • It takes an absolute age to sync offline tracks. And I mean ages. Your app makes the chosen tracks available offline as they’re played, or you can sync over wi-fi. Doing it over wi-fi is really no quicker than listening to a whole playlist though.
  • Where’s the rotation support?
  • Why will it often reach the end of a track and not move on to the next?
  • …and what’s that buzzing noise between every track? Oh, and also every time the connection drops.
  • Why does my phone on occasion restart? It doesn’t do this very often, but it’s always when your app is either playing or shortly after it’s finished while it’s still loaded.

For me though, the biggest kicker is that you are off doing other things. For example, our iOS friends recently got the SpotON radio app; and just last week you introduced the “Play Button” allowing for the embedding of tracks into webpages. If you have time to create these other things, how about setting some time aside to fix an already introduced app?

You might be excused if this was a new app and had only been out a few months, but this app has been around (and has had very few updates) since 2009.

Please get it sorted. A lot of us are getting very fed up.

Yours faithfully

Miles (Android user)

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Spotify is coming to Australia!

So, Spotify is coming to Australia any week now (or so we keep hearing), but I’m not sure how many guys over here actually know what Spotify is, so I thought I’d do a quick once over.

Imagine you log onto your computer and open Media Player/WinAmp/iTunes, and you could do a search for nearly any music you want, whether you own it or not, and just play it straight away. Spotify makes this a reality. Rather than owning the music and having it stored locally, Spotify streams the music directly off the Spotify servers.

The pluses of streaming include the huge range of music, and I do mean huge. They had an estimated 15.5 million tracks July 2011, and they add more than 10,000 tracks every day so we can safely say they’re closer to 20 million. They also do a fairly good job with new releases with most major labels and bands on there although sometimes it will be a few weeks before a band puts a new album up, as they have to try to sell as many CDs/MP3s as they can first. Another important factor (for me at any rate) is that the artists get paid through Spotify! not a great deal (hard figures are hard to come by but estimates seem to be in the $0.00003 per play region) but if you get enough plays they all add up – and let’s face it, a fraction of a cent beats an illegal download!

The downsides of streaming. Streaming music will use up huge amounts of data. While this isn’t a problem in the UK, in Australia capped internet is what the majority of people have. For the highest quality streaming (which is premium only – more on that in a bit) we’re talking 2.4MB/minute. You only have to multiply that up to see the amount of data we’re talking – 2.4MB/min = 144MB/hr. If you have friends over and listen to music for 4hrs, we’re talking 576MB. If you like to listen to music all weekend, we could call that 10hrs a day for 2 days – 2.9GB. That’s a huge chunk out of your allowance. Hopefully unlimited deals will become more prevalent in the near future, but for now that’s what we’ve got.

As I said before, there are a huge number of artists on Spotify, so you’ll never be stuck for something new (Anamanaguchi anyone? How about some Dananananaykroyd? Holy Fuck?) and besides some of the more obvious omissions (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Oasis), you’ll find the majority of your favourites!

So, how do the artists get paid? Spotify makes its money through subscriptions and advertising. There are 3 different Spotify packages users can choose from:

Free: (Free) If you go for the free package, you will have to suffer one or 2 adverts interrupting your music every 20 mins or so, as well as banner ads in the program. On top of this, after 6 months you will be limited to 10hrs per month and only up to 5 plays of any tracks. This is to try to encourage you to get a pay account. In the past they have had invite accounts which take these limitations away but currently we don’t know what they have planned for Australia.

Unlimited: (5GBP – approx 7.50AUD) Unlimited gets rid of the adverts and adds a radio option as well as giving you the option to use it abroad.

Premium: (10GBP – approx 15AUD) Premium is where it gets juicy. You get Spotify on your mobile (Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows, and Palm), you get high quality streaming (320kbps ogg), the ability to stream to other devices, and an offline mode (which could save you on the earlier mentioned data).

There’s also a social side. This involves Facebook, which can turn some people off, but for many it’s worth it. Once connected, you can see (and play) other people’s playlists, what they’re currently listening to, what they star, and plenty more. This comes up within the app as well as on Facebook. It’s like last.fm (and yes, scrobbling is supported) but a bit more real time.

I’ve been on Spotify premium for a few years now and it’s much cheaper than buying CDs. The catalogue is huge, the artists get paid, and it’s available on my phone. What more could you want? Visit the official website for more and to sign up for news on when you can get Spotify yourself!