The annoying new convert, Spotify edition

If you go to the Spotify web page, and scroll all the way down to the bottom, you will see some blurbs of endorsement, including one from Demi Moore and another from Mark Zuckerberg. But the one I want to cite is from Wired magazine: “Those who have tried Spotify know it’s like a magical version of iTunes in which you’ve already bought every song in the world.”

That may be hyperbole, but that’s exactly what Spotify feels like. There are existing services that do parts of what Spotify does, but Spotify puts it all together in a great, free package.

Spotify started in Europe, and I began hearing my favorite tech commentators rave about it before they were able to bring it to the U.S. It gives you immediate and free access to listen to millions of music tracks. You can set up a playlist, add songs to it, and then just sit back and listen. That playlist lives on the Spotify servers, so you can listen to it on any computer with Spotify installed. You can also share links to playlists or to your favorite songs or albums; you can follow users whose musical taste you appreciate, and see what they’re listening to lately, or they can follow you (if you’ve made your playlists public, and you don’t have to). The basic version costs nothing, and your music is interrupted every 15 minutes or so by a commercial. (So far, all of the commercials are for Spotify itself, but I assume that will change over time.) You can upgrade to a premium version which eliminates the ads and includes additional features, such as streaming music to your cell phone.

I had gotten my Spotify invite some days ago, courtesy of bad, bad Ivy, but I had some trouble getting started and didn’t really figure out how to do what I wanted to do until yesterday. At that point, I became like a man possessed, adding songs to my Spotify playlist left and right. There were obscure songs from my Christian college days – songs I literally hadn’t heard at all in 20 to 25 years – and songs I played on WHAL-AM when I worked there as a teenager. There were recent songs, treacly songs, tough songs, any kind of song. There are gaps – individual artists or record labels with whom Spotify hasn’t yet come to terms – but what’s there is massive, and feels like it goes on forever.

Today, a Facebook friend of mine – a musically-talented friend with whom I shared the stage in a play earlier this year – was asking for suggestions for Christmas songs for a concert she’s putting together. My mind immediately jumped to “The Star Carol,” one of my favorite songs and one you never, ever hear anywhere anymore. I posted a link to an Amazon MP3 and to a lyrics page, assuming (rightly) that she’d be completely unfamiliar with the song.

Then I remembered Spotify (which was already running in the background, cranking out my favorite tunes on the computer). So I immediately started pestering this poor woman with Spotify links to the song and messages about how great Spotify is and how she should sign up for it right away.

Turns out she doesn’t even have a computer at home.

I felt like a bit of an idiot.

Those of you who do have computers at home should go and sign up right away, however.