Spotify, you had me, then you lost me

Well, I’ve had it. Spotify and I were getting along just fine up until today. Then I started getting this popup message on my phone:

Syncing Error
I have over 10GB of space free on my phone–plenty of room for more music, and I just want a decent selection of my favorite music to be able to listen to anywhere, offline. I swear I only have a few dozen albums download onto my phone–definitely nowhere near what I would consider excessive. After wiping Spotify completely from my phone in frustration, I noted there was around 11GB of music that freed up, so I assume that’s how much space it consumed. I had it set to download in high quality. I think that’s ridiculous though. They have all the copy protection in place, allowing you to download seemingly unlimited music locally, and you have to check-in with Spotify at least once every 30 days to make sure your account is still valid, and the music is in a proprietary format no other media player can use. The system works. So why limit the number of downloads??? Nothing says anything at all about a limit on the amount of music you can download. You just get the error when you hit the barrier. There is no way I’m going to start juggling artists and albums to work with this limitation. I had enough of an issue just trying to get “Local Files” to let me put my personal music (the albums I couldn’t find in Spotify) into the Spotify app on my phone–which I still can’t see to find any time I try to search for a song or artist in my local files.

Well, at least I found out before my 30-day free trial was up, so it won’t end up costing me anything. I just wonder how many other users ended up paying for months or years, THEN ran into this wall! After googling the error message, I now see that the apparent limit is 3,333 songs per device or 10,000 songs total on your account. Agh.

I am not back to my old standby, which I never get rid of and always seem to end up coming back to: Subsonic – my personal music server, and DSub, a great Android client for Subsonic. No more limits on my downloads, except for free space, and all my music is mp3 and unprotected, so I can even access it with other apps that support MP3s. Once side benefit to this is that my favorite Alarm Clock (Alarm Clock Xtreme – now works properly again, allowing me to choose any artist or album to randomly wake up to each morning–very slowly ascending in volume, so I can turn it off before it gets too loud and wakes up the rest of the family!

Bye bye Spotify!

Spotify Review

I’m trying out Spotify. After hearing so many good things about it, and having looked at a few other streaming music services, I thought I’d give this one a shot. I’m already past my 7-day trial, and now on my first free 30 days. I’m hoping to know definitively, by the time it comes to charge me the first time, whether I’m going to stick with it or go back. So far, here’s what I’ve learned: ┬áSpotify seems to have the largest music library out of all of the streaming music services–or at least pretty close–and it’s definitely the most popular.

The Good: I love the 12-second cross-fade. I haven’t seen this feature since my old MediaMonkey days, and I really like it. It sort of feels like a DJ-blended mix when I listen this way, smoothly fading between each song. Then there’s the simple “SAVE” button on every album, which saves it to “My Music” instantly, making it easy to find anything I grab when browsing their gazillion tracks. And once you “Save” an album, the option to make it “Available Offline” appears as a toggle switch, which results in the album downloading to your device locally. You can even stay offline for up to 30 days before you have to go online again, at least to “check in” to make sure you’re still a Spotify member. Very nice. It seems they’ve got both solutions (the ability to offer their vast library to their members available for STREAMING as well as offer local downloading and saving of any content for the members who prefer to download–or can’t afford to constantly stream). The interface is pretty solid with a nice layout and options. And I believe Spotify has the largest music selection out of all of the current streaming services, so it’s probably the best one to go with, if I stick with a streaming service.

The Not-So-Bad: Just after I signed up, I spot-checked some of my old classics, just to test the waters. For the most part, everything was there and easy to find. I had an issue with a few albums though, and this one kinda bugs me: I searched for Hootie & The Blowfish’s album “Cracked Rear View”, as this is an old favorite of mine. I couldn’t find the album, though there were other Hootie songs and one other album I found, as well as a few of the songs from Cracked Rear View on other albums. So I figured out how to do “Local Files” on the PC, I dropped my old copy of Cracked Rear View into it, then created a playlist that contained the album, which showed up on my phone in Spotify, then I was able to stream and/or download it. That worked ok, but the very next day, I played around some more, and there was Cracked Rear View, in Spotify, like it had always been there. I removed it from my “Local Files”, and it’s on Spotify now. Was that just a weird coincidence, or does Spotify just monitor user searches and Local Files and act on what they find really really quickly??? If it’s the latter, that would be amazing to learn. Wow, that would be amazing. Now I’m anxious to find another one that’s missing and do the exact same thing just to prove it was a coincidence. So that’s not so bad.

The Bad: I have over 67,000 local songs and audiobooks, all purchased as MP3’s, extracted from CDs, or converted from other formats, accumulated over the years. To quickly answer my next question, I pointed “Local Files” on my PC to my entire music section. I gave it a full day to add, catalog and index it all, but it failed miserably. Spotify on my PC froze up each time I clicked on Local Folders to view them, sometimes it even worked, somewhat, and displayed the tracks, but I wasn’t able to search them so they were pretty much useless to work with. If I were going to use “Local Files”, I would have to pick and choose the exact albums to make available to Spotify. I think 67,000 songs is way too much for it to handle at this time. One other feature that most other music players that I’ve used on my android device (and Audible) have is the ability for the app to pause or at least lower its volume when it loses temporary “focus”–this is when a notification sound occurs on the system, or another application uses the audio momentarily, such as Runtastic, which has a voice coach that announces my workout progress every so often while I walk. Spotify doesn’t have this feature, and I’ve grown very fond of it over the years with all my other apps. It makes them sort of “cooperate” with each other instead of fighting for the audio all at the same volume.

So, overall, I’m fairly impressed. It has it’s flaws, but nothing so bad I find it unusable. I’ll continue giving it a solid workout for a couple more weeks before they take their first $9.99 out of my wallet.

If you use or have used Spotify, I welcome your input, tips, suggestions and/or recommendations! Thanks!