Spotify apps review: first look
Spotify this week unveiled apps that integrate directly into the music streaming service, but this isn’t quite FarmVille for music lovers. Instead, the apps are, for the most part, geared at helping listeners find music — the system offers 15 million tracks at last count, so figuring out which ones you want to actually hear can be a challenge.
At the moment, the 11 apps are all free, and available to those on free subscriptions, and it’s hard to see that changing any time soon. For the most part, the apps are generally reviews and playlists — hardly something many people will shell out for. Moving the service to handsets might make apps chargeable, but even then, these are little more than curated content.
However, when it comes to music, that’s no bad thing. Billboard, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone magazines all have slick-looking charts, offering playlists of their most popular songs. Well, most of the top songs, at least. Billboard’s top ten chart is not alone in being blighted by a greyed-out track, meaning it’s not available via Spotify.
The best playlists aren’t (in my humble opinion) actually the latest ones, but the collections of 200 best guitar songs or top tracks from the 60s, as well as an incredibly random eight-track list of Mick Jagger’s favourite reggae songs from Rolling Stone — something a little different from the latest hits.
Of course, none of this really required an “app”. Before this week, anyone could easily make a playlist and share it, letting followers subscribe to hear new songs. The system is still in beta, so hopefully more features will be coming soon from some of the big players, and others showed the creative direction apps could take.
WeAreHunted’s app features charts and ready-made playlists, but it will also build a virtual mix tape based on a single song; drag and drop a track and it finds others like it. The slightly odd Moodagent offers a similar system, but also asks how you’re feeling — sensual, tender, happy or angry — to help shape the playlist.
LastFM’s app has the most potential, pairing its “scrobbling” tool with Spotify’s collection, tracking the tunes you listen to the most in order to give more precise recommendations.
While most of the apps are designed to help listeners find music, some have taken things a bit further. TuneWiki offers lyrics — handy for singing along or deciphering what the heck a singer is on about — while Songkick is supposed to gather up local concerts based on favourite songs, but at the moment seems little more than a list of big-name bands coming to London’s O2 centre, contrary to my musical tastes.
Soundrop is the other app that seems to have potential. It lets users create their own mini radio stations for others to join in, listen along at the same time, and talk in an IM-like client. There are official “spots” of “top pop songs” and the like, but it’s much handier to make your own to invite your friends to, which will probably happen in the PC Pro office on a Friday afternoon not too far in the future.
The Spotify apps are still in beta, which you can download to try out here.
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