It’s no secret that I love, adore, and worship Spotify. It’s far and away my favourite piece of software that’s emerged over the last year. The reason I love it so much is its simplicity, and the way it does nearly everything exactly right. You can see exactly why I love it from my original writeup here.
Yesterday, Spotify removed its invitation-only status in the UK. It’s been possible to sign up without an invite, via a bit of URL trickery, for a little while, but now it’s open to anyone. Go get your sisters, brothers, parents and neighbors signed up – they’ll love it. However, Spotify, for all its awesomeness, isn’t quite perfect. Here’s five reasons why.
One: Spotify’s catalogue is getting increasingly iffy
At launch, Spotify had an incredible catalogue. It had every obscure artist you could think of, as well as every massive one. Having that vast music library at your fingertips meant that the only limit was your imagination.
Alas, it proved too good to be true. Spotify didn’t have the rights to stream most of the stuff it was streaming in all countries, and so it’s had to put restrictions in place, preventing people from accessing certain artists and songs.
To start with, only the usual digital holdouts, like Metallica, AC/DC and the Beatles, were missing but, over time, more and more songs have disappeared from my playlists. Including all the amazing Swedish indie-pop records that I love. It’s getting to be a regular occurrence that I’ll click an artist and find absolutely nothing available, and it’s starting to irritate me.
Two: You can’t see who has added tracks to a collaborate playlist
In the office, we use a collaborative playlist to queue up songs that everyone wants to hear. In fact, I wrote a tutorial on how to do it yourself here. So far, so democratic.
However, the problem comes when someone anonymously rickrolls the office. There’s no way of telling who added what to a playlist. As a result, you can’t track down the secret Steps fan, or reward whoever queued up Sigur Rós.
A simple column addition of “contributor” would fix this problem very easily. It’d also be nice to be able to ban certain users from editing your playlists. Or maybe even create friends-only lists. In which case…
Three: I want some friends
It would be lovely to be able to recruit a friends list in Spotify. I know it’s not a social network, but a basic system of seeing what your friends are playing, sending them IMs and inviting them to contribute to a private playlist would be very welcome.
I envisage a friends panel a bit like Steam‘s, which just shows a username, whatever the person is currently playing, and perhaps a link to their Last.fm profile if it’s tied to the Spotify account. It would be nice, too, to be able to listen to what someone else is listening, so Spotify DJs could emerge.
Four: Spotify should be able to play local tracks, too
This ties in to the catalogue issue. I’ve got a tonne of tracks on my PC that aren’t available on Spotify. I can understand not being able to add them to collaborative playlists, but why can’t I listen to them through the software?
Occasionally, too, when I have network problems, it’d be nice if the software could track whether or not I’ve got a local copy and play from that instead. But of course, local playback is fraught with incompatibility, slowdowns, album art problems and DRM, so I’m prepared to wait for this one.
Five: Better radio functionality
Most of all, though, Spotify needs a better “radio” function. I like the genre and year selection very much, but I’d be nice to drill down even further – picking subgenres and related artists, much like Pandora and Last.fm.
Then, some functionality to modify that radio playback with “like this” and “don’t like this” buttons would be enormously welcome. In fact, why not just integrate Last.fm playback, via the API, and have it all done automatically? That would be ‘win’ all round.
BONUS SIX: Accept debit cards!
Okay, this isn’t a proper problem, but I want a Premium subscription. I actively WANT to give Spotify my money. But I can’t, because Visa and Mastercard are the only cards accepted on the site. Where’s Switch, or Paypal? Where are my gift vouchers? Spotify is losing my cash.
Do you have any major problems with Spotify that I haven’t listed above? Share them in the comments. Oh, and don’t get me wrong – Spotify is the best digital music service out there – I just want it to be EVEN BETTER.
By Duncan Geere | February 11th, 2009