The Magic of Spotify 

Streaming music services have been gaining popularity recently. Increases in broadband penetration, the gradual replacement of dedicated server technology with cloud technology, and self-released albums have created the perfect environment for sharing massive libraries of music online. With the proper network infrastructure in place, many services have begun popping up in order to provide users with a wide array of music choices without requiring them to pay for individual songs or download them to their computers. Among them is Spotify, a platform that was released in Europe in 2008 and the US in 2011. The service offers many benefits for all levels of user, from free to Unlimited to Premium. As a music player, it scans and catalogs all of the music on the user’s computer and allows the user to create playlists and browse their library. What makes it stand out, however, is its ability to integrate a streaming music service with local browsing.

Free

Users who signed up during the invitation-only period will have six months of unlimited listening at 160 kbps. After the six months is up, they will have access to 10 hours of listening per month, with five plays per track. At all levels, users can create playlists, and by linking their Facebook account, share artist recommendations and playlists with friends. The service gives users access to over 13 million songs from many major and independent record labels like Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal. The music selection isn’t as vast as that of many other music services, but it’s growing and already includes many niche bands such as The Aquabats and Akron/Family. Free Spotify users with iOS devices and Android or Blackberry smartphones can sync their local library with their device over Wi-Fi.

Paid

There are two levels of paid accounts on Spotify: Unlimited and Premium. Both paid accounts have the same features as the free accounts, with additional capabilities depending on the subscription level. The Unlimited plan, which currently costs $4.99 per month, removes all ads and listening restrictions, allowing users to listen to as much music as they’d like without being cut off or having to sit through advertisements at random intervals. Where the service really starts to shine, though, is in the Premium tier, offered at $9.99 per month. Not only do Premium users get all the amenities of the lower tiers, but they also have access to caching, prerelease albums and more mobile device options. Premium users with smartphones or iPods can stream music on their devices or change their stored songs on-the-fly. Further, Premium members have the option of streaming music at 320 kbps, offering double the standard bitrate and the highest quality streaming audio available from any service today.

Many people have been eagerly awaiting a cloud music service that allows them to either store their files online or stream whatever music they want without having to deal with confusing licensing or outrageous fees; Spotify provides that desired platform and offers levels of service that will appeal to nearly everyone.

Guest Post by Danielle , Eatbreatheblog