I have been a huge fan of Rhapsody for quite a while. As a music fan and long-time believer in the idea that music drives an increase in productivity, the integration of at least one of the several big music services into my home office was natural.
Pandora One offers a pretty great service that provides a great unpredictable stream of music that can introduce you to new artists, and keep you entertained throughout the day. The one thing that service lacks is the ability for you to listen to a specific artist, album, or song when you really want to.
So, Rhapsody became my favorite music service and has been for about a year now. It allows me the ability to enjoy music in abundance with music from a wide range of artists including some of my favorite obscure Industrial tracks that I have a very hard time finding anywhere else. Boole’s Blow Up the World being one of them.
Still, Rhapsody is not without its drawbacks. Until recently, I thought that it really was the “best” music service for me. Thanks to a few members of the Gnomies community, I soon found out that Spotify offers quite a few nifty features that Rhapsody doesn’t.
Here are some reasons I made the switch from Rhapsody to Spotify.
This feature is certainly not the best for everyone, and I even turn the social sharing bits of Spotify off from time to time. After all, do I really want everyone on my Facebook friends list to know how many times I listen to cheesy 90s music?
That said, I have enjoyed the panel on the right side of the Windows app that lets me know what my friends are listening to. I’ve discovered some pretty great tracks thanks to this feature, and some great conversations between myself and Robert Glen Fogarty (our editor here at LockerGnome) have resulted that wouldn’t have taken place if it wasn’t for Spotify’s social integration.
Turning your personal sharing on or off is as easy as toggling a few commands in the preferences menu. You can even share your musical tastes on Last.FM, which could cause a few Last.FM holdouts to consider converting.
Rhapsody has playlists, and that’s not exactly a killer feature here, but hear me out. One of the primary reasons I switched to Spotify was a particular playlist Robert shared for St. Patrick’s Day called Paddy, Not Patty!
The playlist itself I absolutely love, and Spotify has a built-in feature that makes it easy to copy a URL and share it with friends, family, and coworkers so they too can experience what you’re experiencing. You could create a new playlist, and share it on the Web through MyPlaylistIsBetterThanYours.com or some other site that allows you to share your musical discoveries with the world, and find something new you never would have known about, otherwise.
It’s not so much that Spotify does something here that Rhapsody doesn’t, but the real advantage (for me) is in how it does it. Execution is everything in software, and Spotify nailed it with this one.
Rhapsody is Limiting
You can only install Rhapsody on a certain number of devices, else you’ll be paying extra to add additional devices to your account. This makes sharing the Rhapsody service with my wife more expensive than keeping it to myself. In a household where more than one person uses a smartphone, this isn’t ideal in the least.
I’m also surprised that Rhapsody hasn’t created any native applications for OS X, giving Windows the only advantage of this option. While it does allow you to listen to music directly from the site (an advantage over Spotify in this instance) I’m personally still a fan of native programs. Perhaps it’s a sign of my age, but I feel better knowing that it runs as a separate application from my browser.
Further to that, I noticed that Spotify allows me to use my multimedia keyboard controls to play, pause, and switch tracks. Rhapsody, even with the native app, doesn’t. If there is one killer feature apart from social integration, this is it. Why would you use a media player that doesn’t take advantage of the buttons on your keyboard specifically designed for this purpose? C’mon Rhapsody!
Spotify has one feature that I’ve come to greatly appreciate, especially when I have to deal with a data cap from my service provider. Offline playback allows me to store the music locally in order to play it back, even when an Internet connection isn’t readily available. If there are specific tracks you listen to frequently, this could be considered a great feature for you, especially when your connection is pretty iffy.
To be fair, Rhapsody has this feature for the iPhone client, but that doesn’t do a lot of good for folks like me that prefer to listen from the desktop.
I love that I can plug my iPod in or open my iTunes library from within Spotify. This allows me to experience all of my music, even the stuff I’ve downloaded through various other sources out there, in a single program. I really don’t need to open iTunes at all, and I know there are a few of your reading this that would count that in the WIN column.
Spotify will even sync with my iPhone or Android device via Wi-Fi. I mean c’mon, really?!
Spotify has some pretty useful apps available to it. Radio (which is often pointed out as a weakness of Spotify based on earlier versions of the service), top lists, Last.FM, and a number of other apps can change the way you discover music through Spotify.
One of my morning routines is checking the Top Lists app to catch up on the latest and greatest music out there. I’ve discovered a few artists using this feature I probably would never have heard about, otherwise.
Music is About the Experience
Music is supposed to be an experience, and any musician out there will probably agree that their audience’s experience should be as seamless and natural as possible. Being able to right-click and copy a URL that goes directly to a specific song within Spotify to share with a friend via an IM client is about as natural as sharing music can get.
I just love checking my inbox (on Spotify) and seeing music that my friends have sent me. Being able to share and receive recommendations in such a fluid and natural way makes the experience of music richer and more enjoyable.
With Spotify’s free service, and other music services such as Pandora doing the same, I wonder why people even pirate music anymore. It’s freely available at your fingertips, and there’s probably a service out there that fits your needs almost exactly. For me, I may have found my match with Spotify.
How do you listen to music? Do you purchase music online, subscribe to a specific service, or do you still buy CDs?