The highly competitive streaming music space gains and loses services every few years, but one thing remains the same: Spotify is one of the simplest music services around. Despite serious competition from other music services—including the audiophile-friendly Tidal and therefore the DJ-centric LiveXLive—Spotify remains a top player during this crowded category thanks to its large catalog, collaborative playlists, podcasts, and various other attractive features.
Part of Spotify’s success is its ubiquity. you’ll access Spotify by launching the online player, by downloading the desktop apps (available for Chromebook, Linux, Mac, and Windows), or by installing one among the mobile apps (available for Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile). you’ll also find Spotify on TVs, set-top boxes, smartwatches, and residential computer game consoles.
The desktop apps have a plus over the online player and mobile apps therein you’ll use the previous to play M4P, MP3, and MP4 audio files that are stored on your computer. this is often a very cool feature for people that want to play all of their music streams and audio files from one central location. Unfortunately, the desktop app isn’t compatible with M4A files.
The Android app and iOS app, however, share an additional benefit. On mobile, Spotify has partnered with Genius, one of the web’s hottest lyrics sites, to supply Behind The Lyrics. This feature displays key lyrics (but not full lyrics!) as they’re sung or rapped. There are not any lyrics on the online or desktop apps. additionally, Behind The Lyrics delivers behind-the-scenes information, like song facts or inspirations. it is a cool addition that considerably jogs my memory of VH-1’s classic Pop-Up Video show.
You can dive into Spotify by signing up for Spotify Free or one among the four Spotify Premium tiers. The free version serves audio and banner ads and allows you to listen at 160Kbps, manage your digital music files, and connect with others using the built-in social networking features.
The $9.99-per-month Spotify Premium allows you to hear select albums before they’re released and play songs on demand. you’ll also cache songs for offline playback on your computer, phone, or other devices. This tier also increases audio quality to 320Kbps. Feature- and quality-wise, Premium is well worth the extra moolah. That said, Spotify doesn’t allow you to record its audio as SiriusXM Internet Radio, the Editors’ Choice for streaming services focused on live content, does.
Spotify’s Family Plan grants six people individual premium accounts for an incredibly wallet-friendly $14.99 per month. That price is in line with the industry standard family plan pricing. Spotify’s combat the family plan includes several cool features, like Family Mix (a vulgarity-free playlist for your family) and Spotify Kids (a separate service aimed toward children).
If you would like a Spotify plan that only covers two people, Spotify Duo is that the thanks to going. The $12.99-per-month tier is actually a Family Plan for a pair of individuals, minus Spotify Kids. It even has its own combat Family Mix: Duo Mix.
A Spotify student plan is out there for $4.99 per month, but it isn’t your typical student plan. This one also includes an ad-supported Hulu plan (normally $5.99 per month) and Showtime (normally $10.99 per month). That’s a ridiculously bargain that no other streaming music service can match. The closest comparison is that the upcoming $14.95-per-month Apple One service bundle that has Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and AppleTV+.
Deep Content Well
Spotify’s library boasts quite 50 million songs, plus audiobooks, comedy, radio dramas, podcasts, poetry readings, and speeches. it is a rich collection, and that I am pleasantly surprised that it includes Dr. Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (part of the HistorySpeaks podcast) in its entirety. In fact, Spotify features a lot of non-music extras, like The Joe Budden Podcast and choose Hulu Originals soundtracks, which act as a counter to LiveXLive’s DJs and music history channels, also as Tidal’s in-depth music editorials and exclusive videos. That said, Spotify doesn’t have many music videos or concert videos. LiveXLive is superior therein regard. SiriusXM Internet Radio, too.
Clicking an artist’s name pulls up additional songs by the artist and an About tab that contains an artist’s biography, photos, and hyperlinks to related Spotify pages. I killed quite a jiffy in testing leaping from Alicia Keys to Isaac Hayes to Booker T. and The M.G.’s and reading the in-depth bios and sampling tracks. However, LiveXLive’s DNA station does a far better job of fleshing out artist profiles through the utilization of interviews and playing the music that influenced the artists’ sound.
Playlists and Community
Spotify’s library won’t allow you to down. I streamed everything of A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, Hannah Williams & The Affirmations’ Late Nights & Heartbreak, and Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin II. Spotify features a good mixture of major and indie artists, including Taylor Swift, who once had a notable rupture with Spotify over money that saw her remove her catalog from the service.
You can build playlists with any of the tracks or albums in Spotify’s deep catalog. By default, Spotify streams tracks on your playlists with gapless playback. Spotify also gives you the choice to crossfade songs, and even the power to regulate the number of seconds (1-12) to fade. it isn’t something I exploit, but DJs (or wannabe DJs) might find it appealing.
If you would like to create a playlist with a lover, activate the collaborative playlist choice to let your playlist be edited by others. Group Session, a feature currently in its beta testing phase, takes that concept a step further. It allows you and other Spotify Premium subscribers to hear equivalent content at an equivalent time on your own devices—and control the content playback. Group Session supports two to 5 people and, thankfully, you’ll invite friends and family to relax out by sending them a link. that forestalls trolls from jumping into your sessions.
Spotify’s free 128Kbps and Premium 320Kbps streams sound good. If you hear Spotify employing a laptop or phone during work hours or the morning/evening commute, you will find the sound quality satisfactory.
Still, if you would like better audio quality, and have an honest pair of headphones, you ought to check out Tidal’s $19.99-per-month HiFi plan. With it, Tidal delivers non-compressed 1411Kbps FLAC audio that’s of much higher fidelity than your standard audio stream. Even better, HiFi includes Tidal Masters, a music collection that gives studio-quality, high-resolution audio streams. They sound terrific. Amazon Music Unlimited, Primephonic, and Qobuz also offer hi-res audio.
Expected and Unexpected Features
Besides taking note of singles, albums, and playlists, you’ll create an Artist station that plays music from your favorite musicians, also as similar-sounding musicians. I prefer Harlem’s Artist Radio, which served up tunes from Dum Dum Girls and other indie rock notables in testing. Oddly, I used to be ready to skip quite a dozen tracks within the little time I spent with Spotify Free before I upgraded to Spotify Premium; typically, streaming music services like Live by Live Powered by Slacker Radio limit you to 6 skips. Not that I’m complaining. You can, of course, like and ban songs to customize the Artist Radio experience, as you’ll with most music-streaming services.
As previously stated, Spotify lacks LiveXLive’s informative DJs who host particular playlists and therefore the music history-filled Slacker DNA stations. Instead, it’s Spotify Sessions, original artist recordings made in Spotify Studios. I tolerated Kelly Clarkson’s mediocre cover of Prince’s “Kiss,” but rather enjoyed John Legend’s “All of Me.”
If you’re concerned about streaming your favorite tunes over, say, a public Wi-Fi signal, you would like to urge yourself to a VPN. A virtual private network safeguards your phone, tablet, or PC from snoopers and, counting on the situation of the VPN server, may allow you to access music licensed to other regions. employing a VPN to urge around licensing restrictions violates Spotify’s terms of service, though, so tread carefully.
An Excellent Streaming Music Service
Simply put, Spotify is a superb streaming music service that wins PCMag Editors’ Choice award. it’s plenty of great music, exclusive tunes, and podcasts, all of which combine to form it a top pick for streaming music and more pop culture-related content. If you favor musical deep dives and concert videos, inspect LiveXLive, which is additionally an Editors’ Choice. If you fancy hi-res audio, the Editors’ Choice award-winning Tidal is that the thanks to going.
Cool, collaborative playlists and Group Session options
An optional desktop app that allows you to play locally stored audio files
Premium accounts allow you to hear select albums before they’re released