Spotify dilemma

While Heidi was gone to Chicago, I set up my old PC at a desk in our dining room.  I’ll admit that the only reason I wanted to set it up at all was because I wanted to have a place from which to play music when we’re cleaning house or doing dishes or having friends over.  With the advent of smartphones, I really don’t need another computer to check my e-mail.   After I got it set up, I reverted to lazy mode and didn’t want to bother with putting all my music into iTunes again, so I have been using Spotify quite a bit.

Spotify is almost perfect.  I’m still not sure that streaming music is the future of music, but I can’t decide if that’s just me being old and crotchety.  I adopted digital music pretty quickly, although there was a period during which I burned all the albums I bought digitally to a CD and then printed out the album artwork.  I chucked those in the trash years ago – that was basically my last spasm of resistance before giving in completely to digital music.  For some reason, it just didn’t feel like I owned the music if I didn’t have a physical copy.  Similarly, now that streaming seems to be the next step in the digital music evolution, not having a copy of the mp3 makes me feel like I really don’t have the music.

Don’t get me wrong – I really love Spotify.  The basic version is more-or-less a free version of Rhapsody which I had a brief love affair with back in the early 2000s.  I love being able to sample albums – try before you buy so-to-speak.  It’s exposed me to a lot of music I might have otherwise dismissed.  Who knew there were good Nicki Minaj songs?  It was thanks to Spotify that I found out that I really did like Lana Del Rey, despite my protests to the contrary.  The ads are a bit annoying, but I get it.  It’s a free service – they have to pay the bills somehow.  And although I am opposed to people setting up Spotify so that every song they play posts to their Twitter feed or to their Facebook timeline (Pandora users that do that try my patience), I enjoy the integration with Facebook.  You can tell a lot about somebody by what music they listen to.  Most of the closest friendships I have started out with music commonality – if not for certain artists, then at least with a shared passion for music.

I think my favorite feature of Spotify are the playlists.  In the mood for something but don’t have a playlist that suits your mood?  No worries – someone in the Spotify universe has already made that playlist.  One night while Heidi and I folded laundry, we listened to Billboard Top Hits of 1986 – 95 tracks in all – and it seemed like every song was “Man, I haven’t heard this in FOREVER.”  Heidi does not have the fondness for 80s pop music that I do, and even she was enjoying it.  I was making an “Anything Goes” playlist yesterday while I cleaned house and it was a motley mix but yet, very Dan.

So here’s my dilemma.  I’m pondering going to Spotify Premium.  Part of the reason for this is because I feel like if I use a service and get value out of it, I should pay for it.  I also have to admit that I’m intrigued by the idea of being able to stream Spotify on my iPhone.  We’re lucky and still have unlimited data through Verizon, so data usage isn’t a concern and really, I’m connected to Wi-Fi more often than not anyway.  I know I would use it but here’s the problem.  It feels kind of excessive – like I don’t really need it.  I have a shit ton of music on my hard drive in my iTunes library.  There’s more music there than I can ever listen to in a lifetime.  Basically, I’m a music hoarder but because it doesn’t take up physical space, you can’t tell.  I have strong emotional attachments to songs and really like to listen to music on my own terms.  Because of this, mobile apps like Pandora and I Heart Radio are of limited use to me.  I have a lot of music on my phone and never did I feel more like a douchebag when I caught myself saying to myself on my way to work, upon discovering that Blondie’s “Shakedown” was not on my phone – “if I had my OTHER iPod, I’d be able to hear it.”  First world problem without a doubt.

I also feel like, at 10 bucks a month, something else should go.  I could get rid of eMusic, but I really feel like that’s a deal.  We’ve thought about getting rid of physical discs from Netflix, which would probably free up almost all of the 10 bucks needed.  If I didn’t get 10 dollars worth of coffee from work a month, there it would be.  It seems silly to be quibbling over 10 dollars, but that’s how it happens – death by a million tiny cuts. “Oh yeah, I have 10 dollars a month” and then after you do that a hundred times, suddenly it’s a thousand dollars a month.  A dramatic example, to be sure, but I think you get the point.

I think the happy medium is to go for the free trial and see how much I actually use it.  The trick with free trials is remembering to cancel.  What’s the opinion of the peanut gallery?

We’ll see.  In the meantime, I’m glad Spotify is around.  Even if it doesn’t keep track of play counts.

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4 Responses to Spotify dilemma

  1. If you get so much enjoyment out of something… it IS worth the money. Go for the free trial… then you’ll see how much you actually use it- put a reminder on your phone… no excuses not to remember to cancel if need be. We only live once. Seriously, at the end of the day- do you sit there going “damn, and I went and spent 10 bucks on Spotify all those years ago”, or do you sit there with a stupid grin on your face and a warm glow in your heart as you hear an oldie (as it would be then!) Madonna again… cut the office starbucks run- get the Spotify!

    • Dan says:

      The trick to cutting out the work coffee is sticking to it. It’s one thing to say it, but it’s another thing altogether to actually go through with it!

      Your advice sounds very much like my friend who, when I was trying to decide if I wanted to spend the money to go to Kylie Minogue, said “I highly doubt you’ll look back on your life and say “damn! I wish I hadn’t gone to see Kylie Minogue!”

  2. Elliot says:

    I have so much music that it isn’t all in my iTunes library, and for the stuff that is, I have to use my old 80gb iPod because there is too much to fit on my iPhone. I buy some digital stuff, and the convenience of it is good, but I’m a little against the quality of it. I did a post about it once: http://brainsplats.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/why-im-not-looking-forward-to-cds-disappearing/

    I’ve never got onto Spotify although I am tempted because many music sites I use post playlists which I could listen to. On the other hand I don’t have enough time to play all the music I have and buy. Plus I do like to have physical (or digital on a hard drive) because otherwise if the internet connection was down, I would have nothing.

    An old mentality perhaps? What about the idea that I can play something and unless listening to it with me, no-one knows what I am playing, and it isn’t reported to anybody who can target me with appropriate adverts.

    • Dan says:

      I get people’s resistance to digital music. I’m not a super big audiophile, but I recognize that some people are. Honestly, I can’t hear the difference (probably because of years of going to concerts without appropriate ear protection) and I prefer the convenience of the digital.

      Really, Spotify can only serve as a supplement to my iTunes library. I end up purchasing most music that I really love. A few I still purchase on physical media – most Madonna releases still get that.

      And what you say is true about the social aspect of music these days – it’s all about advertising and marketing. Still, I can’t help but really love the sharing of musical tastes. Who knows what might happen?

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