February 21, 2009

On The Buzz Radar: Spotify

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 2:43 pm


I heard about Spotify several weeks ago and went to its home page, only to learn it’s not (yet) available in the U.S..

Spotify wikipedia entry:

Spotify is a Sweden-based proprietary music streaming program, which allows instant listening to specific tracks or albums with virtually no buffering delay. Music can be browsed by artists, albums or created playlists as well as by direct searches. Although it is not possible to save the streamed music for use outside the application, a link is provided to allow the listener to directly purchase the material via partner retailers.

Spotify provides the transfer of soundfiles via internet through the combination of server-based streaming and peer-to-peer technology (P2P) involving the listeners themselves (see also: mesh networking). Even with slow internet connections, there are no great delays when playing music. An internet connection of at least 256 kbit/s is recommended, as the bitrate of the stream is up to approximately 160 kbit/s. The sound files can be played on demand, as if they were installed on the hard disk of the user. Songs are cached on the client computer to prevent wasting bandwidth by streaming the same songs over and over. The audio codec used is Vorbis.

So far, Spotify only works on desktops (well, notebooks too, I’m sure). I’m not techie enough to know if its reliance on P2P for the underlying distribution structure means it requires a persistent broadband connection and would therefore be unable to work with hop-on/hop-off clients via WiFi. I don’t see any software for smartphones listed, so perhaps this is marooned at desktops.

Here’s an interesting article about Spotify and the future of music:

Let me clarify. There’s a good chance the iTunes Store could be toast, a veritable sideshow. Because soon, the majority of people will not own their music, they’ll rent. And they’ll be happy to do so. True cheapos will pay in advertising, those with more sense than time will pay. But nobody will bother paying by track to own in an evanescent format, they’ll just want to stream.

I think that will very much depend on the price and selection.

Contrary to the history of digital hardware, “analog software” has a tendency to be in the hands of those who are greed-driven instead of — for lack of a better term — “improvement-driven.”

Just look at the history of pricing for CDs, magazines, books, movies, and even cable TV. If those had mimicked the Silicon Valley model of constant improvement, we’d be whizzing along with the fastest Internet connections on the planet — both wired and unwired — and enjoying all “content” (a word I very much dislike) in digital form at pennies (or even fractions thereof) per sip.

We still have a long way to go to get there.


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