Spotify Adds Features to its Free and Paid Services
From its initial launch in Sweden, Spotify has been known as a free music streaming service. There was much excitement when it came to the States in 2011. But once it launched here, limitations were placed on the free service, including a $10 per month subscription fee for accessing music on mobile devices. In 2012, Spotify Radio marked the return of free music on mobile devices. Like Pandora radio stations, you can choose an artist or song to create a “radio” station of similar music. You can't choose what songs or artists are played and are limited to skipping six songs in an hour. Also, like Pandora, you can customize a station's playlist using a thumbs up/down song-rating system
Shuffle Play provides more freedom to choose music from a specific artist or playlist. But there’s a catch. Once you make a choice, you can't choose specific songs you want to hear. But if an album from a chosen artist chas fewer than 12 tracks, suggested tracks will be added to the mix. Similar to Spotify Radio, free subscribers are limited to six skips per hour. The updated service includes all music in the Spotify library including the newly added Led Zeppelin albums.
You still need a pay subscription to listen to specific songs on demand, but Spotify Connect makes it easy to enjoy music on your smartphone or tablet through connected receivers from Bang & Olufsen, Denon, Marantz, Philips, Pioneer, Yamaha and other brands. When you walk into the house playing Spotify on a smartphone or tablet, all you have to do is press the green speaker icon and the music will start playing through your home system. The Spotify app also becomes a remote control from which you can choose and control Spotify playback on the receiver.
For users who like the ability to search and listen to playlists created by friends or other users, Spotify is the best social music app available. Still, I’m a fan of Google Play Music with its ability to make playlists from radio queues to customize the upcoming song list. Google Play Music is also more flexible because it streams to a Chromecast dongle that can be connected to a TV or AV receiver. I will continue to use Spotify’s free service, but I need to see more compelling features before I reinstate the premium pay service.