Spotify is a multi-platform application which provides access to a free and legal barrage of online music. Its a streaming music player which has a similar feel to iTunes. Through it a user can get links to a large number of albums and tracks. Spotify use a peer-to-peer network along with streaming servers to provide their music.
Spotify is available for Mac users with OS X 10.4 or later, Windows XP users or later and it can also be run using the application Wine if you have a Linux based system such as Ubuntu.
The advertising funded version of the software is completely free of charge and can easily be signed up for by UK users. Spotify ask that the rest of the world wait for an invite to register, you can visit their invitation page should you wish to join the waiting list. Advert free versions of the software are also available: Â£0.99 for a 24 hour ad-free pass or Â£9.99 as a monthly subscription should you wish to get going straight away. Based on my own experience the adverts come along roughly every half an hour and last for around thirty seconds. Spotify consider this to be considerably less than the amount you would hear on normal radio.
The software is quite simple and easy to use, a search bar is provided on the top pane for a user to begin browsing. Once you've made your request, the results should appear within the larger right hand column. Form here, just double click your choice and listen. Much like iTunes but more simplified, the right hand pane allows you to view the home page, (where recommended artists are provided) listen to the radio or create your own play queue. A section dedicated to playlists can be found above the album artwork in the bottom right hand corner. Here you can create your ultimate party shuffle.The bottom pane is where a user can play, pause, select the previous or next track, choose to shuffle or repeat the tracks selected. The program is also responsive to the inbuilt track selection keys on my MacBook.
There are advantages to a piece of software like this. It could free up a little space on a user's hard drive should it be bogged down with music. Spotify also has the capacity to hold a vast expanse of music, more space = more choice. Users don't have to wait for tracks to download before they listen to them and Spotify allows a fair amount of control over the music you listen to. This is a piece of software I can see being popular with netbook users where hard drive space is a little more limited.
Spotify recommend an internet connection of 256kbit/s to be able to get a hassle free user experience and say that it usually works well on a 3G connection. I'd recommend a try to anyone interested, but I don't think its going to stop me using iTunes.