I’m like most people; I love to listen to music. Personally I don’t adhere to a specific genre, I just like to hear as much new music as I possibly can. The downside to this is that my music library is big, no… huge! It’s a hassle storing all of that data, and it’s impossible to take it with me on my mobile devices. Here is where a groovy little desktop and mobile app called Spotify comes in handy.
The Problem With Listening To My Own Purchased/Downloaded Music
The first thing would be the fact that my phone only shows me information that I’ve manually had to enter. I’m talking about the ID3 tag information, every album shows up different. The next downside is that I have to be sure that my songs are formatted in high quality. For a music fan there is nothing worse than scratchy, bad-quality music when you have to ride 30 minutes on a bike to work (In the Netherlands everyone rides bikes instead of driving!). When I first bought my Samsung Galaxy S Android phone, I also bought a 32 GB micro-SD card. You really can never have enough space on your phone, but despite the extra 32 GB it still wasn’t enough. That is the third downside with having too much music; there is no way I can fit all of it on a single device. And lastly, I simply can’t keep track of it all. When you think about how many 5MB mp3 files it takes to fill up a 32 GB SD card, that is a huge variety! Picking out songs and switching them back and forth between my external storage is just a huge hassle.
How Spotify Helps
- The first one is called Spotify Open . This version of Spotify is free and a great way to get to know Spotify. If gives you 20 hours of music every month, but with ads in between songs. Not the ads you hear daily on the radio or TV, but Spotify ads.
- The second version is called Spotify Unlimited. Its only € 4.99 per month but for that little amount you get unlimited playtime and no ads.
- The third version is Spotify Premium and it costs € 9.99 per month. Next to all the options you get from Unlimited, you also get the option to be able to use your playlists offline, and to use the app for you smartphone. There are apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Symbian. The big advantage of the mobile version is that you can use it where ever you are. The only thing you need is an internet connection on your phone. Don’t forget that this requires a good data plan, Spotify uses a lot of data.
So yeah, even the free version of Spotify is groovy so let’s dig deeper and show ya how to get it running!
Step 1: Install Spotify
Start up your browser and navigate to one of three versions: Spotify Open, Spotify Unlimited or Spotify Premium. Click “Get Spotify now” in the middle of your screen. Follow the process, it’s really simple and self-explanatory.
Step 2: Get the music
After installing you will end up with a nice and clean grey Spotify window. Now it’s your new mission to get the music flowing from your speakers! Don’t worry, it’s super simple and in no time at all, you can find over 8,000,000 tracks on Spotify. The 3 best places to start with are the search, What’s New, and Radio options as shown below.
Clicking the What’s New option results in displaying 8 albums randomly. You can click the More button on the right upper corner to scroll to the next 8 albums. Click any album you like, hold the mouse button and drag and release it to the New Playlist area to make your first playlist. It is as simple as that, you’ve just made your first playlist.
Clicking the Radio button opens up a whole world of music directly available to you. At the top you can click on any musical era you want, from the 1950’s to the 00’s. Under the periods there are 19 buttons, representing a music stream. Select a timetable and/or several music streams and see the tracks change at the bottom of the screen. Click one, and start listening.
There is just one little snag here, you can’t just switch to another track. You have to click on whatsoever is shown by the auto-generated list. There is no “shuffle” button and you are not given the opportunity to just scroll forward in the queue.
In the screenshot below you can see I already have a few albums in my playlists. Yours will look about the same over time. I have added the Billy Joel album to my playlist and Spotify will automatically open that album after I have added it, thus opening any album will look like below.
Step 3: Play and share your music
Just double-click any track and it will be played and appear at the bottom-left corner of Spotify. If you like it (and you think your friends will like it too), you can click the Share button. Next, Select the preferred social media, you can choose between Facebook, Twitter, or Spotify itself if you have users in your friends list. It even works with Windows Live Messenger. As for myself, I mostly use the Twitter button to give my followers a sample of my “great” taste in music. *ahem* 😉
Step 4: Adding your own library to Spotify
The best thing about Spotify is the fact you can mix in your own music library with the online streaming one. In the upper left corner, click on Library and then on the big button in the center of your screen Start Using Library.
After you Click the button shown above, Spotify will scan your computer for any and every music format possible. You can also tell it to scan networked locations! To add music from your library to your Streaming playlists, just drag a song over. Easy eh?
Step 5: Use Spotify on your phone.
Now lets take Spotify and make it mobile. If you own a Windows Mobile phone, a iPhone, a Symbian or Android phone, you can get the app for your phone from the market and install it. I’m using a Samsung Galaxy S i9000 and got the app from the Android Market. It is free and you can install it like any other app. However, you’ll need to get a Premium account, or you won’t be able to use the app.
Also be sure you have unlimited data subscription with your wireless provider. As said before, Spotify uses a lot of data, and it will rack up the bills really quick on low-limit data plans. Alternatively you can use Spotify at any Wi-Fi hotspot your phone has access to. This comes in handy if you are making new playlists on the desktop version because Spotify will sync those playlists to your phone, and regardless of number Spotify will sync all of them. And all that data over a 3g/4g connection will take up a lot of data. So be sure to be in reach of a Wi-Fi hotspot or good network signal.
The mobile edition of Spotify has the same features as the desktop version. You can make playlists, you can share your music with the outside world, you can what albums are new and you have the same search function. With it you can search for Albums, Tracks or artist.
The mobile version also has a Top Tracks tab under the “Home” button. It shows the most played tracks in your country. Tap a song and Spotify will automatically play the rest of the list. You don’t have to make a playlist for this option although you can add the songs to a new playlist, if you want.
When you get the app up and running, make sure you use the widget on your home screen. With that you can control your Spotify on the fly.
Play Streaming Music Offline
Last but not least, here is the best option from the Spotify app. This is what really gives Spotify an edge over competitors, like Pandora or Grooveshark. You can take your playlists offline and still listen to them. Go to your desktop version of Spotify and Right-click the album or track of your choice. From the menu that appears select Available Offline. Spotify will now download the album or track to your phone and desktop so it will always be available for you when you don’t have an internet connection. How Groovy is that!?!
After clicking the option Available Offline you will see little arrows in front of the tracks that will change in a syncing symbol, like the one you see appearing in your Dropbox when you upload files. This represents your files syncing, I’ll explain more below.
Wait for all the little arrows to disappear and your album or tracks are now available offline! You can now see which albums are available offline through the icon behind the album titles. With each track you will see the little arrow that shows that track still has yet to be downloaded. Behind the Album title you will see another little arrow when the downloading is done. The album that is in progress shows a little black clock.
You easily reverse this process by again right clicking the album or track and select “Available Offline”.
Spotify is a great and versatile way to make sure you can listen to your music, where ever you are. You can share your taste of music through Twitter of Facebook and even collaborate on playlists.
Get your friends together and create some killer playlists for that big party, or join your coworkers in the biggest “Bad-case-of-the-Mondays” mash-up you can think of! You can even select a playlist from www.sharemyplaylists.com and play and store it in your Spotify.
Keep in mind that Spotify might not be available in your country yet. I’ll leave the ethics up to you, but you could get around this registering a UK PayPal account and using an UK Zip code to register your account.