It’s finally happened. After four years of being exclusive to certain countries in Europe, and more recently the US, Spotify has finally launched locally, joining a crowded stable of streaming music services that include Rdio, Deezer, JB Hi-Fi Now and Sony Music Unlimited.
What Spotify offers that the other services don’t, however, is free access from a desktop computer. You’ll have to put up with ads, but it’s a minor inconvenience for 10 hours of free music streaming a month from a catalogue of more than 16 million tracks.
First-time users also get a 30-day free trial to the premium membership, which adds features like ad-free unlimited playback, offline and mobile access, and better sound quality. Once the trial is over, you can upgrade your account to premium for $11.95 a month.
Sign up for a Spotify account at www.spotify.com and then download the desktop software from www.spotify.com/au/download. Launch the app, sign in with your account details and you’ll get an option to link your account with Facebook. This is recommended if you want to take advantage of Spotify’s many social features.
If you know what you want to listen to, you can head straight to the Search bar at the top of the Spotify window. You can queue up tracks and/or add them to new or existing playlists by right-clicking the name of the track and selecting the relevant option in the pop-up menu.
Search for artists from the search bar.
The default view in Spotify is the ‘What’s New’ page, and it’s a good place to start for browsing through the music on offer. Here, you’ll find recommended albums, top playlists and tracks, new releases and trending tracks. Click on the ‘123 Top Lists’ option in the column on the left and you’ll also see the top 100 tracks and albums in Australia. You can change this to show the top tracks and albums everywhere or in a specific country by clicking on the arrow next to ‘Australia’.
There’s a good chance that you like the same sort of music your friends like. By linking your Facebook account to Spotify, you’ll be able to browse through the playlists, top artists and top tracks of your Facebook friends who are also using Spotify. Next to each of your friends’ playlists, you’ll see an option to subscribe to them — clicking on this button will add that playlist to your list of playlists in Spotify.
You can share your Spotify activity with others.
You can also recommend songs to Spotify and/or Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr friends. If your friends are on Spotify, you can share the track by right-clicking on its name, selecting the ‘Share To’ option and clicking ‘Send to a friend’. Sharing the track with Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr friends publishes a link to the song on Spotify to your profile, although friends will need a Spotify account to play it.
If you don’t want Spotify to post all of the music you listen to on Facebook, you can turn off this setting in ‘Preferences’ by unticking the ‘Show what I listen to on Facebook’ option. You can also elect to remove your playlists, top tracks and top artists from your profile if you’re embarrassed by your taste in music. The other option is starting a private session, which means any tracks you listen to while it’s active aren’t published to your profile. To start a private session, click ‘Spotify > Private Session’.
Create your own radio station
Spotify offers a nifty Radio feature that creates a lineup of tracks that sound similar to a song or artist you select. If you decide you like the sound of a track that’s currently playing, for instance, you can right-click the name of the track and select the ‘Start Radio’ option to create a new station based on that song.
Create a radio station based on a selected artist or song.
Click the ‘Radio’ option on the left-hand column and you can also browse through popular radio stations based on artists, tracks and genres. Spotify keeps a running list of radio stations you’ve previously created, so you can go back to playing them whenever you like.
Like Facebook, Spotify lets you install a variety of apps to add extra features. These are housed in the ‘App Finder’ section of Spotify, where you’ll find featured apps, new apps and top apps, with descriptions for each and an option to add them to your Spotify service.
Apps can be installed to add extra features.
Some of the apps on offer include Triple J (for viewing Hottest 100 lists and other content), TuneWiki (for viewing synchronised lyrics to songs that are playing) and Moodagent (for creating playlists based on mood). Any apps you add will be available from the left-hand pane under ‘Apps’.
Access Spotify on your smartphone
If you have a premium Spotify membership (including the free 30-day trial), you’ll be able to access Spotify on an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone/tablet, Windows Phone or Symbian device. Even if you don’t have a premium membership, downloading Spotify onto your compatible mobile device will give you 48 hours to try it.
Most of the desktop features in Spotify are available in the mobile client. You can access your playlists (including the ones you’ve subscribed to from friends’ Spotify profiles and any iTunes playlists you have from your own collection of music), search for tracks, albums and artists, browse through top tracks and new releases, and look at friends’ profiles.
To add a song to one of your playlists, tap the ‘i’ button in the top-left corner of the ‘Now Playing’ screen, select ‘Add to’ and then tap on the playlist you want to add it to. You can also add it to a new playlist by tapping on the ‘+’ button in the top-right.
Make playlists available offline
Another Premium feature is being able to access Spotify playlists offline. This is handy if you’re accessing the service from a mobile device and don’t have internet access. However, this doesn’t apply to all playlists by default — you’ll need to mark each playlist as available offline individually. To do this, right-click on the name of the playlist in the desktop app and select the ‘Available offline’ option.