Over the last few weeks, with many thanks to James for access to the invitation-only beta, I’ve been trying out a new online music player called Spotify.

What is Spotify?

According to their website

Spotify is a new way to enjoy music.

Except it’s not really that new a way: you use software to listen to music downloaded from the internet.

A completely new way to enjoy music would involve something like a way of enabling your cat to download MP3s via WiFi and singing the songs to you!

What is new, however, is that it’s free. That’s “free” as in: if you can put up with the occasional audio and pictorial advert.

It’s a bit like a cross between and the iTunes store; in fact it will automatically scrobble played tracks to if you have an account.

Once you’ve signed up you can download their client, which has a similar look and feel to Apple’s iTunes, but unlike iTunes you can use Spotify to search for and stream entire songs to listen to; in fact you can listen to complete albums, or the entire back-catalogue of your favourite artist.

As I’m typing this, I’m currently listening to Jethro Tull’s Aqualung album; Spotify tells me that it has found 512 Jethro Tull tracks that I’m welcome to listen to.


It’s great, it’s like having my own customizable radio station, where I get to choose exactly what’s played and in which order, by creating playlists. Or I can check out artists that I’ve not heard before, or albums that I’ve not bought safe in the knowledge that if I don’t like them then I’ve not wasted money buying it.

And because this information is stored in my online account when I login to Spotify at work I have immediate access to any playlists that I might have created at home.


According to the website I should be able to share my playlists with friends:

Because music is social, Spotify allows you to share songs and playlists with friends, and even work together on collaborative playlists

I’ve not explored this feature yet and have only just discovered how to make a playlist collaborative.

What’s new and Top lists

Another feature that I’m only now checking out is the What’s new and Top lists features. Here you can see a top ten of what other folks are listening to, both tracks and albums. You can also filter this by country: see what albums people in Finland are listening to most (Guns N’ Roses) or Germany (MGMT).

What’s new, as the name suggests, lets you see the latest albums to be added to the system. U2 anyone? Apocalyptica. It also shows you a grid of artists that it thinks you might like. I’ve no idea how it compiles this collection because I’ve been listening to rock and metal almost exclusively since I installed Spotify and it’s suggesting a bunch of pop, R&B and Rap artists!


The radio feature allows you to specify a genre (or genres) and decades that you’d like to hear music from, and then it goes off and does its stuff, streaming a randomized selection of music from your chosen categories and eras.


Now I know it’s early days but here are the features I’d like to see in Spotify:

  1. Suggestions
    There I was listening to Jethro Tull a few minutes ago, it would be great to have a list of suggested other artists that I might like to explore. Similar to Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought …” feature. That way you could hear a wider range of music, otherwise you’re left to the devices of either the random choice Radio or you simply have to know the artists you’re looking for in order to search for them.

  2. Mini Player
    The ability to minify the player, in the same way that iTunes or Windows Media Player does, would be great.

  3. Keyboard shortcuts
    You don’t realise how much you rely on keyboard shortcuts to start, stop, pause and navigate through tracks on your digital media player until you don’t have that ability anymore.

  4. Scroll through radio lists
    I’d really like an easier, quicker way of browsing through radio playlists.

Apart from that … it’s great.

0 invitations available

All 5 invitations have now been claimed — thanks for the interest.

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