There are lots of music streaming services to choose from these days, with new offerings entering the market every month or so, but the one that always comes to mind first for us, and which consistently delivers, is Spotify. Not only did Spotify get there early and claim the crown of the coolest, easiest-to-use, and arguably best music service around, it’s also still the most popular, despite stiff competition from the likes of Apple Music, Google Play Music and other music-specific services like Pandora Music and Deezer.
One of the main reasons for Spotify’s enduring popularity is that it remains true to its roots, offering a stable, intuitive experience with plenty of choice, while at the same time it’s constantly adding new features that are genuinely useful and have real staying power. These include its super-smart playlists, podcasts and social sharing tools, and there are more exciting developments expected soon, such as a dedicated Spotify smart speaker.
You can get Spotify on Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. If you use a laptop or desktop, Spotify also supports OS X and Windows. There are also rumblings that Spotify will be coming to the Apple Watch this year, but there’s been no official confirmation yet. There’s a web interface too, which lets just about any connected gadget with a browser get involved in the streaming action. Having said that, most people tend to use their mobile to listen to Spotify on the-move – and it’s easy to see why.
The Spotify app has a black interface, which is peppered with albums covers and playlist artwork that really stand out against the dark and minimal background, putting the music and the artists front and centre. Spotify really wants you to get on board with its generated playlists, and we can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. That’s because Spotify looks at what you’ve listened to, and fills a whole bunch of playlists with tracks it thinks you’ll like based on its smart algorithms.
Discover Weekly has long been a TechRadar favorite. This features tracks and artists you may not have heard, but which Spotify thinks you’ll like. It’s a good way to find new, and often slightly obscure, music – and the general consensus in the office is that the algorithms get it right nearly every time. If you want something more familiar, the Daily Mix playlists are packed with tracks you’ve listened to before. And My Time Capsule is filled with old tracks that may stoke a bit of nostalgia. If it feels eerily accurate, that’s because it cross-references your date of birth with your current tastes to guess the tracks you may have listened to when you were growing up.
Spotify also offers a great selection of playlists that have been created for all kinds of genres and moods. When buying music you’ll probably search for an artist or album name, but a less traditional approach often works well with Spotify. As an example, one of the playlists we often come to while working is Electronic Concentration, which is packed with tracks that aren’t too distracting. You’ll find loads of results for terms such as ‘relax’ and ‘chill’, and there are playlists for runners based around the specific beats-per-minute of the tracks.
Each artist also has their own ‘radio’, which is a generated playlist based on the style of that band or singer. It’ll feature some of their songs, and others that are similar or relevant in some way. Spotify tries to make sure that you don’t have to think too much about what to play, as you may have done in the old days when using an iPod. Interestingly, and refreshingly, the service has also announced it’ll be removing controversial artists like R. Kelly from its suggestions. That means his work won’t be completely taken off the service, but it won’t pop up in Discover Weekly or similar curated playlists.
Spotify is still the undisputed king of streaming, and its reign doesn’t look like ending any time soon. One reason why we think that is Spotify’s dedication to innovation. That might sound a little cheesy, but it’s constantly adding new features and has more in the pipeline, like a feature that auto-mixes playlist tracks and a trimmed-down Android app called Stations that might be rolled out globally soon, as well as a dedicated Spotify smart speaker.
If you’re interested in what the service is working on, check out Spotify Labs. The team is consistently testing new services, adding in open source projects, and providing users with an insight into what they might be working on next. You could argue that constantly evolving the service is vital when there’s such strong competition around, but it’s also refreshing, given that even some of the most forward-thinking tech companies around at the moment seem wary of introducing new features and being bold.
Spotify’s newer features, like Discover Weekly and Time Capsule, take what was already a brilliant service and add the level of polish and comprehensiveness required to make it a five-star product. Its fantastic catalogue, its ability to use its brand to win major exclusives, and its superb (and unrivaled) social features make it the obvious choice for anyone looking to take the plunge with streaming.