Digging in Spotify's cache – can you get MP3s out of it?

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Since Spotify arrived on the digital music scene last October, people have been flabbergasted by how fast it works. How could it possibly be able to search and index millions of files and then deliver you the music stream quicker than searching your own MP3 collection? The answer is three-fold. A peer-to-peer infrastructure, fantastic coding, and a massive cache.

The cache is the most interesting bit. By default, the program uses up to 10% of your hard drive for storing the music that it downloads. You can have a poke around in it by going to C:UsersUSERNAMEAppDataLocalSpotifyStorage on Vista, or the equivalent directory for other operating systems.

The files residing within are the music that plays when you double-click a track name in the software. Stuff you play gets saved to this directory, so that when you play it in the future, there’s a local copy and it can find it faster. So can you pull out the tracks in a usable form to copy to your MP3 player?

The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is yes, with a lot of difficulty and if you don’t mind breaking the law. For most people, it’ll be beyond them – you’ll need to use source code provided by dodgy open-source client Despotify, and you’ll need to have a Premium account – because Despotify doesn’t work with free ones.

In reality, it’s not worth the bother. You’ll eventually end up with a 160kbps OGG file. That’s fine for streaming but when you convert it to MP3 to put on your MP3 player you’ll lose even more quality. Even if you’re not an audiophile you’ll be able to hear the difference.

Simply put, if you’re intent on breaking the law then in reality it’s much easier to go to The Pirate Bay and get the tracks you want there. But why bother? As actually-quite-useful piss-take website Spotibay illustates, if people have fast access to music in a user-friendly way, then they won’t bother with piracy.

Where that argument falls down is mobile access – even though Spotify’s rolling out the mobile clients, what happens when you go out of coverage, on the tube or in rural areas?Then you’re screwed, right? Well, if hints on the company’s support forum are followed-through, then maybe not.

A post on the support forum requesting that the company provide cache-only playback for offline conditions met with a surprisingly positive response with the company, stating:

“An offline play mode is a feature we’re looking at implementing at some point in the future. I think any feature we develop would likely have the option for the user to decide what is available for offline play.”

If that functionality is extended to mobile, and there seems no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be, then that could have massive positive implications for mobile clients – pick the albums that you want while in a Wi-Fi area and then while on the tube or even when you just have a 3G connection you can still enjoy music, as well as streaming when available.

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Duncan Geere





Duncan GeereDigging in Spotify's cache – can you get MP3s out of it?
  • thecarpy

    So, this basically means that with a spotify account, you pay to get 160kbps ogg music, cewl, but … hm …no thanks … I just listened to Classical music, the quality is awful and I am not even an audiofile … even with Keane, you can clearly hear the difference from the the Hopes & Fears CD … sad … You can hear the same difference with the songs on iTunes, BTW. I had a deal with my former ISP, but it was limited to Universal music only, the quality was a tad better, 192, and it was included in your internet connection fees (they did not charge more after introduction) … anyway, I will stick to CD’s – they are getting cheaper with all this digital stuff, which is cool for me, thanks for using spotify!

  • gribelu

    Things have changed since this post.
    Paying Spotify listeners get 320 kbps OGG q9. Regular users get 160. That’s VERY good quality.
    You also get the ability to play music offline on your mobile or computer.

    Pretty awesome!

    http://www.spotify.com/int/blog/archives/2009/06/25/bumping-up-the-bitrate/

  • justin smith

    Its all about digital music now. There is so much that you can get from it. I just love it so much. whistleblower

  • http://www.war-o-rama.com Cool Shooting Games

    I think I’m missing the point of something… I’ve seen claims that despotify can get mp3s directly out of spotify. I’ve looked at despotify and it seems like a fairly simple text-based interface. I’m not quite sure what the point of it is, and I’m not sure how people think you can get mp3s out of it.

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  • ohyaknow

    I agree with the article. If you have basically every single song in the universe instantly at your fingertips, why even bother with downloading them, having to manage them, and have them take up space on your computer? It’s not really worth it. I love Spotify, my only wish is that the mobile app were better. Other than than, it’s fantastic.

  • TankDog

     CDs are digital, too. Just FYI.

  • TankDog

     CDs are digital, too. Just FYI.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UDMR4EPDOG5FTTML2YCTIQK7LQ Jen

     the problem is what you do when you're not connected to the internet. if I want those spotify songs on my mp3player for example when I am on the road or whatever..I won't be able lo listen to an online stream. just saying. I generally record music from spotify, just one copy for my personal use, nothing illegal, no selling or anything like that. I get the track, convert it to mp3 and transfer it to my device (it's really not such a big deal-> http://audials.com/en/how_to_r

    • namefield

      >I generally record music from Spotify>nothing illegalactually that is piracy and even though you're only doing it for private uses it's still illegal

      • matthew4295

        Actually you're allowed to record music from a place like Spotify for your own purposes (no resale or using for a business). Always Fact Check.

        • Christian Speegle

          ACTUALLY, you're not. Federal and international law defines an infringement of copyright so that it includes any form of non-purchased use, meaning it is illegal even if you use it for personal reasons only. This actually does make sense – songs, for example, can be downloaded from any number of .mp3 distribution services for a fee, part of which goes to the copyright holder as royalty. If you acquire copyrighted material without paying the appropriate royalty, you are infringing the copyright. Copyright literally means “right to all copies” and implies that the copyright holder is the legal owner of given material. The legal owner is entitled to compensation for each “copy” acquired for anypurposes. Certain materials are only licensed for “private, non-commercial use” (what you call “no resale or using for a business”), but this only means that a purchased copy of the material needs special permission, typically written, for use outside the home. You CAN make copies of copyrighted material, but only for personal use. As an example, I like to burn a copy of a CD (yes, I still buy CDs) to take in my car so if it gets scratched, I still have the original. This is legal copying. If I give a copy to a friend, however, this is illegal because my friend did not buy the right to use the material, a fee built into the purchasing cost of the material. If I give the original to a friend, I have to also give the friend all my copies or destroy them, and remove digital copies from my computer. Services like Spotify pay the royalty on your behalf through advertising. Downloading or recording music for no fee is still piracy because you are using the material without the rights holder receiving a royalty.

          The only exceptions are public domain copyright material, which only takes effect if the legal copyright owner has been dead for a certain number of years (usually 75), and if the copyright is specifically filed to allow free use. Examples include open-source software (Mozilla Firefox web browser, OpenOffice Suite word processing/presentation/spreadsheet software), freeware (e-Sword Bible study program, which has a copyright notice indicating that selling copies of the program is illegal but sharing for free is encouraged), etc.

          Always Use Sources Other Than Google For Fact Check. People want what they want, and the instant they see a source that agrees with what they want, they accept it as gospel and forget to use their heads. We have brains in between our ears for a reason, but people don't really know much about using them anymore in this society of instant gratification.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UDMR4EPDOG5FTTML2YCTIQK7LQ Jen

     the problem is what you do when you’re not connected to the internet. if I want those spotify songs on my mp3player for example when I am on the road or whatever..I won’t be able lo listen to an online stream. just saying. I generally record music from spotify, just one copy for my personal use, nothing illegal, no selling or anything like that. I get the track, convert it to mp3 and transfer it to my device (it’s really not such a big deal-> http://audials.com/en/how_to_rip_record_internet_radios/spotify.html)

    • namefield

      >I generally record music from Spotify
      >nothing illegal
      actually that is piracy and even though you’re only doing it for private uses it’s still illegal

      • matthew4295

        Actually you’re allowed to record music from a place like Spotify for your own purposes (no resale or using for a business). Always Fact Check.

        • Christian Speegle

          ACTUALLY, you’re not. Federal and international law defines an infringement of copyright so that it includes any form of non-purchased use, meaning it is illegal even if you use it for personal reasons only. This actually does make sense – songs, for example, can be downloaded from any number of .mp3 distribution services for a fee, part of which goes to the copyright holder as royalty. If you acquire copyrighted material without paying the appropriate royalty, you are infringing the
          copyright. Copyright literally means “right to all copies” and implies that the copyright holder is the legal owner of given material. The legal owner is entitled to compensation for each “copy” acquired for anypurposes. Certain materials are only licensed for “private, non-commercial use” (what you call “no resale or using for a business”), but this only means that a purchased copy of the material needs special permission, typically written, for use outside the home. You CAN make
          copies of copyrighted material, but only for personal use. As an example, I like to burn a copy of a CD (yes, I still buy CDs) to take in my car so if it gets scratched, I still have the original. This is legal copying. If I give a copy to a friend, however, this is illegal because my friend did not buy the right to use the material, a fee built into the purchasing cost of the material. If I give the original to a friend, I have to also give the friend all my copies or destroy them, and remove digital copies from my computer. Services like Spotify pay the royalty on your behalf through advertising. Downloading or recording music for no fee is still piracy because you are using the material without the rights holder receiving a royalty.

          The only exceptions are public domain copyright material, which only takes effect if the legal copyright owner has been dead for a certain number of years (usually 75), and if the copyright is specifically filed to allow free use. Examples include open-source software (Mozilla Firefox web browser, OpenOffice Suite word processing/presentation/spreadsheet
          software), freeware (e-Sword Bible study program, which has a copyright notice indicating that selling copies of the program is illegal but sharing for free is encouraged), etc.

          Always Use Sources Other Than Google For Fact Check.
          People want what they want, and the instant they see a source that agrees with what they want, they accept it as gospel and forget to use their heads. We have brains in between our ears for a reason, but people don’t really know much about using them anymore in this society of instant gratification.

          • JGjohnson

            ACTUALLY, matthew4295 was correct. Just like you are permitted to make recordings of music from terrestrial radio, you can likewise legally record from Spotify. And before you get your thing in between your ears all tied up and start your next rebuttal with “wait a minute, spotify is not terrestrial radio” argument look at your old VCR or your new DVR and wonder why you can record your subscription cable. Looks like you have already swallowed the entertainment industry Kool-Aid and it has broken your ability to think for yourself properly.

  • Mike Hunt

    Wtf is a tube?

  • Mike Hunt

    Wtf is a tube?