Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Technology Lesson: Listen to Music on Spotify (by Bryan Dennis)

Today's lesson is by Bryan Dennis, who kindly offered to explain Spotify, a music streaming service that is new to the U.S. (But not Europe!)

Technology Lesson: Listen to Music on Spotify

Spotify is a Swedish music service that became available in the United States in July 2011. It is legal (artists get paid when you play their music) and has millions of songs and thousands of albums and most of the artists that you will want to listen to. It is a magic jukebox but it isn’t. You need a computer with a relatively recent operating system: Microsoft Windows (2000 and newer) or Mac OS X (10.4 or newer) and a high-speed connection to the internet

If you love music and want to expand your horizons without breaking the bank this is the service for you.

Getting Started

There are three ways to get Spotify: Free, Unlimited ($4.99 per month) and Premium ($9.99 per month). Free is the way to start. The only downsides of Free are some ads and a limit on how many hours of music you can listen to in a month (20 hours). Upgrade if and when you become dissatisfied.

To get Free Spotify you must be invited. There are different ways to get an invitation but I just go to the following link where Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) will get you an invite right away. Just enter your e-mail address: http://www.spotify.com/us/trent-reznor/ema

Spotify will send you an e-mail. Follow the instructions to set up your account and download and install the software you need. This may take 10–15 minutes. Then launch, log-on, and you are ready to listen.
Using Spotify

If you have used iTunes or listened to any music on the Internet you will recognize the Spotify layout: search box, forward/backward arrows (upper right), play,pause, next track, previous track, volume (lower left).

The default view is “What’s New.” Click on an album to select it and see the track list. Use the lower left Play, Pause to control playback. Click on the back arrow in the upper left to get back to What’s New. When in doubt, click and see what happens. Nothing to mess up, and you will figure things out the old fashioned way—trial and error.

Type the name of an artist, album, or song in the search box and click on the green arrow to the right of the search box. Search results are displayed below. You can select by Artist, Album, or Song. Navigation is always done by clicking on either an image or text. Give it a try. If you get lost just use the back arrow to return to the search results.

If you click on an artist name in the search results view you are taken to a new view that has sections called Top Hits, Albums (in reverse chronological order), Compilations, Appears On. Select what you want to listen to by double clicking the track you want to hear and use the Play/Pause buttons. Note that the album of the track you are listening to will be shown in the bottom left of the Spotify window.

If you click on album title in the search results view you are taken to a new view that lists the album tracks and may give a review. Double click to select a track and listen in the usual way.

In the search view is a list of all tracks by that artist. Just double click a track to start listening. Hours of your selected artist without further intervention.

Beyond the Basics
I am satisfied with the basics, but Spotify has a bunch of additional functionality. You can put together your own playlists, share the music you are listening to with friends, and even listen to the music you have on your computer from other sources, like iTunes. Explore these features as you wish.

You are tethered to your computer and a high speed connection unless you upgrade to the paid options. Sound quality is good, but not great, so audiophiles may be dissatisfied. You won’t find everything you want to listen to on Spotify (e.g., The Beatles) and it can be very hard to find the exact performance you want to listen to if you are a classical music fan.

For additional tips on how to get more out of Spotify, click here: http://huff.to/oEdLCr.
Listen and love Spotify. Questions?


Maggie Dennis said...

I really enjoyed this post and learned a lot. I'm amused that Bryan sent "old people" to Trent Resnor for an invite. Maybe he will start a trend of senior Nine Inch Nails fans?

Annie said...

Do you have any advice on whether I should allow Spotify access to my Facebook account?