February 10, 2013

Why I've quit Spotify

Virgin Media's original Spotify deal was a no-brainer: free Premium access for six months (or for some of us a full year) and almost unlimited access to the world's CD collection. Once my original free year expired I signed up for the ongoing Premium service at £9.99 a month, mainly so that I could continue to access it on my phone and iPad.
But now I've cancelled. Here's why.

  1. There is STILL a problem with streaming Spotify over VM broadband during the evenings and over weekends, with the service quitting after a short period. It's too unreliable at home to listen to.
  2. The sound quality, even at the Extreme setting, isn't a patch on iTunes or a 256k AAC rip from a CD.
  3. The TiVo App isn't the best. And I don't want to play music through a TV sound system tuned for movies rather than music.
  4. The iPhone App is, after the last update, even worse. There's a problem with nested folders that means any music you've neatly filed away by artist is either deleted or tucked away in a random folder within folder within folder bug - I lost over 30 playlists when this bug was introduced.
  5. The iPhone App still doesn't have any cache clearing capability, which means the more you use Spotify, the more it fills up your device. The only way to release that space is to delete the App and start again. Not the worst workaround, but annoying. 
  6. £9.99 in the UK but only $9.99 in the US. Yes, I know we have to pay VAT on downloads, but that doesn't strike me as particularly fair to UK customers.
  7. Albums come and go at random. Several of my playlists now have tracks that are no longer playable. Grrrrrr.
  8. Modern music is shite. 
  9. I've got over 80gb of my favourite music in my iMatched-iTunes. And anything new I'm interested in I can give a listen to in the free Spotify.
  10. Some times more means less. I prefer small bookshops' selections to the infinite shelves of Amazon. I prefer discovering new music from 6Music to hunting through the dross on Spotify. It was great to re-aquaint myself with some albums I don't own any more, but it also made me realise why I didn't buy them when I moved to digital.
So farewell for now, Premium Spotify. Maybe you will return at some point to my Direct Debits, but somehow I doubt it. Music's too important to me to be left to poorly written software and a service that's unreliable when I use it most. If I didn't have 30+ years of back catalogue already available to me digitally I would maybe reconsider, but I do. Time for some Beatles, methinks...


p said...

I love Spotify and use the Unlimited version for £4.99 (buy a £10 gift card and get 2 months of Unlimited) and have to say my 50Mb broadband can cope with it easily... not a problem at all!

However, some of the other points you make are valid and in particular.... the reason I have currently suspended renewing for another 2 months is because DEEZER (a browser based music streaming service) which in my opinion is not as good as Spotify, is offering me 12 months of unlimited music for free! They also offer a 30 day Premium membership too so you might want to save yourself a month of Spotify payments and try Deezer for a month...... as I said, not as good in my opinion but then I have had huge enjoyment of Spotify, but for 12 months of FREE streaming, it was foolish for me to pay £60 over the next 12 months for broadly the same service.

streaky_7 said...

"9. I've got over 80gb of my favourite music in my iMatched-iTunes. And anything new I'm interested in I can give a listen to in the free Spotify."

I have been thinking about getting iTunes Match since recently acquiring Apple TV. Does it stream well to your idevices? I'm worried I won't have a good enough signal to stream when im out and about. Also does it show up your playlists in iTunes?

Nialli said...

@streaky_7 I haven't really used it for streaming. What I use it for is sharing my music library across various devices logged into my iTunes library. I've a 32gb iPhone from work so I download a selection of albums over the home wifi and remove them when I tire of them and pull down a few others. Given Apple's rip off prices for the larger capacity iPods and iPhones, it means I can have my music of the moment on the move with minimum hassle. Works well for me, and good value at £23 a year (or whatever it is). There was a problem with iOS 6.01 but they've fixed it with 6.1.
Sorry but I don't have Apple TV to comment on how that works with it.
What's really good is the way iMatch stores well-ripped 256k AAC versions of your music, even if they're inferior rips. I had loads of my CDs ripped at 128k from when I first got an iPod and when they were matched in iMatch they were all replaced in the cloud with 256k versions. That alone saved me hours of re-ripping.
If I'd ever acquired pirate MP3s it would replace them too I guess, but I don't have any. It has replaced the 320k MP3s I bought from 7Digital, and the quality is to my ears improved.
It won't suit everyone's needs but I'd go as far as to say that if you've invested in the Apple ecosystem for your music, it's essential.

Nialli said...

"What's really good is the way iMatch stores well-ripped 256k AAC versions of your music, even if the originals you made were inferior rips" I meant...

streaky_7 said...

Thanks Nialli. Appreciate the mini review. I think for the money it's worth giving it a go and seeing how it works for me. If it works how I want it too, I could get rid off my old iPods which would pay for the cost of iTunes Match for a few years anyway. Does it show up playlists on your iPhone and iPad? It does sound beneficial just having all my 19k tracks at my fingertips on all my devices.

streaky_7 said...

And as many of my tracks are not as good quality having them all higher quality is also tempting!

Nialli said...

@streaky_7 Yes, it shows Playlists on your iOS mobile devices.
Also you can go into Settings on your devices and elect to show just the albums you have downloaded on the device, or the entire library (which you do if you want to download more). It's pretty neat. More on it here: http://www.idownloadblog.com/2011/11/14/itunes-match-the-complete-walkthrough/
Not every one loves it though: a quick Google search will show some have had problems, but for me it's proven painless and productive, especially compared to Spotify.

KJ said...

Have to say I love the premium Spotify app on iPhone and haven't had any problems on it for at least a year. These problems were sorted out with a swift update by Spotify. I'd recommend the service to anyone that's willing to pay £9.99. For the first time in my life I've got into so much more music and saved money in the process. As for saying modern music is crap........well you've obviously not used Spotify as it should be used as there is as much good music out there as there always has been. Its just we have crap radio stations now :)

Nialli said...

Going off topic here but...
My comment about modern music is obviously a bit glib but there's been very little new I've heard in the last eighteen months I've been inspired by. When I was younger I'd buy dozens of albums a year - last year I bought two or three. On Spotify I found myself listening to movie soundtracks, rediscovering a few Bowie and Kate Bush albums I don't have on CD and realising the Lana del Rey wasn't really for me.
But the real reason I've quit Spotify is that it doesn't work as it should on Virgin Media broadband and the iOS Apps are so poor. Not work a tenner a month.

Richard said...

I think the album buying is an age thing.. Lol
I used to buy an album a week when I was younger... Not listened to anything much that has inspired me to buy anything. Too much pop and cover versions... Even the good stuff has been cover versions!

Gareth Schofield said...

i did use Spotify Premium for a few months but moved over to Sony's Music Unlimited as they had a special offer the other month of 12 months access for under £12