Spotify: You’ve heard of it.

Just when you thought you knew too much about the minute-to-minute activities of your friends, Spotify came onto your dashboard and proved that, yes, you can know more. All of a sudden you knew exactly what song your friends were listening to and exactly when they switched to the next.

Foreign and unknown to many at first, Spotify appeared to be an application that only a minority utilized on social networking sites. Slowly, the integration of the music streaming service with the social media sparked the interest of the population.

Without paying a single dime, the regular user can listen to music for free with the occasional radio and pop-up advertisement. However there are different types of accounts. Subscriptions in the United States are $5 dollars a month for ad-free listening and $10 a month for ad-free listening plus mobile usage as well as offline ability to stream music.

“I like using Spotify on my phone, because having offline files is really cool,” said Lucas Bolster, a sophomore mechanical engineering major. “Basically, I listen to the music on my phone all the time. The ad-free feature is the best part.”

Launched publicly in October 2008, this Swedish-founded company offered the streaming of selected music from a range of major and independent record labels. With approximately 10 million users as of September 2010, Spotify slowly grew, and in October 2011 was available in 10 different countries.

Funded by paid subscriptions, advertisements in the Spotify player and music purchases from partner retailers, the company’s catalog has approximately 15 million songs as of July 2011, the same month of the U.S. launch of Spotify.

The functions of Spotify are accessible through mobile devices running iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and a couple more systems. As of September 2010, there were one million paying members of Spotify.

“One of my coworkers introduced me to Spotify in August,” Bolster said. “At that point, it was still invite-only in the U.S.”

Some may compare Spotify to Pandora, however there are a couple of major differences. Sure, there is a radio option for a random playlisting of songs but users can skip as many tracks as they desire without being forced to listen to whatever plays next. On Spotify, users don’t have the ability to rate songs either.

Spotify allows registered users to integrate their account with their social media accounts so that they can access their friends’ favorite music and share with them what they’re listening to at the moment. The Facebook compatibility option allows users to share their music with their Facebook friends via a Spotify supported inbox.

Although there are over 15 million songs in the library, some artists have opted not to be added to Spotify or are missing due to licensing restrictions. Besides hosting radio music and typically popular songs, Spotify allows independent artists to use its services.

According to About.com, independent musicians can easily distribute their music to Spotify, with the pay being based on a sliding scale basis determined by the total number of monthly plays an artist receives.

Kevin Ian, a 2006 UC Davis alumnus who majored in music theory and composition, is the guitarist and vocalist of The Common Men. Based out of Sacramento, this post-punk trio’s music is available through Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, CD Baby, Napster and Bandcamp.

“Spotify is just another form of advertisement via the internet,” Ian said. “As long as artists see Spotify as a vehicle to get more fans and not a vehicle with which to make a great deal of money, it can be a very useful service.”

Omid Roostaeyan, a sophomore cell biology major, uses Spotify to share, discover and use music for his DJ sets at Sigma Chi events.

“I find music through DJ podcasts [and research them] on Spotify and add them to my playlists and sets,” Roostaeyan said. “I like the fact that I can simply drag songs, albums or even artists to my Facebook friends and share them.”

Spotify accounts can be created at Spotify.com, where users can begin to share and discover music.

ELIZABETH ORPINA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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