I used to pay $14.99 a month for Rhapsody. I dug the catalog and being able to create a playlist at home and then throw it on at a party with my phone, but it was buggy in the browser and streaming over my phone was spotty. I quit after about a year.
This morning I got on Spotify and so far the experience has been, as promised, very slick and enjoyable. The catalog seems fairly deep–I tested it with indie bands like Atlas Sound and, at the suggestion of Andy Weissman, Bardo Pond. Spotify nailed both of them. It had my favorite track from the deep soul group The Falcons, but no albums.
The interface is intuitive to anyone who’s used iTunes and after a slight hiccup I got the Facebook integration working. This was a big deal, because suddenly Spotify changed from being a great way to listen to music to a discovery tool. I saw an old college buddy on the service, browsed through his recent plays, and found some interesting new tracks.
Spotify also tapped Klout to promote its launch, which has succeeded to the point that Klout is now crashing and telling users like Frank Denbow that they have already signed up when they have not. Still, this was a brilliant use of the social scoring service. It made it seem a little exclusive because you needed a certain Klout score to get on. When users did get through that gate, they were prompted with the typical pyramid scheme: invite five friends and get a free trial of the premium version. Normally I would have skipped this step, but I wanted to broadcast that my Klout score was high enough to get in, so I bit the bullet and spammed my friends.
One irony of the Facebook integration was that as soon as I saw friends listed next to my tunes, I wanted to click on their icons and start chatting with them about the music. That kind of instant, intimate engagement is what has made Turntable.fm such a success. It seems like adding chat wouldn’t be difficult, or perhaps a moot point if users are launching Spotify from within Facebook.
My friend Mario, the college buddy who I found on Spotify through Facebook, declared that he liked Rdio better, because the Spotify discovery process was so bland. “It sucks that when I log on I just see a bunch of top 40 bullshit. With Rdio, I listened to something and it immediately started suggesting new stuff for me, I’m just adding adding adding, whereas I have to think in Spotify. The network on Rdio is much broader, not just Facebook, but Twitter and Google too.” Spotify and Facebook seemed tied at the hip right now. Time will tell if that means an exclusive relationship, and if that damages Spotify’s prospects.