I made the mistake of signing up on Spotify at three in the morning. Later, when the sun was up, I was still wide awake, swimming in endless musical possibilities.
The award-winning digital music service was launched in the Philippines on April 8. Spotify, which debuted in Sweden in 2008, has over 24 million users and six million paying subscribers in 56 countries.
Spotify gives users in the Philippines access to 30 million songs, including a lot of OPM. You need to pay only P128 monthly for a premium account.
Since its launch, Spotify has paid over $1 billion in songwriter’s royalties.
The first thing I did was search for my all-time favorites: Rachael Yamagata. Moonpools and Caterpillars. Regina Spektor. Alanis Morissette. No Doubt. Happy to see their albums in the Spotify database, I started adding my favorite tracks to a playlist.
Then I said, wait a minute. What am I doing? All these songs are already in my iPod. Sure, Spotify is a good place for finding your old favorites (heck, they even have Alisha’s Attic’s “Alisha Rules The World” album), but it’s also a great way to discover new artists and new songs and to get access to music that you thought was hard to find.
I decided to put Spotify to the test. Last year, I watched a show at New York’s Lincoln Center, featuring mostly musicians that had yet to hit the mainstream. They were fantastic and I wanted to bring their music home, but not all of them were selling CDs after the show.
I looked up their names and started to grin like an idiot. Lake Street Drive, Lynette Williams, Akie Bermiss, Matt Sucich—they all had songs and records available on Spotify!
I looked up more musicians. LP. Hugh Laurie. Haim. Check, check and check.
The string quartet version of Alanis’ “Jagged Little Pill”? Also available on Spotify. Songs from my favorite musicals? All there. I felt overwhelmed, like a sugar-loving kid in a candy store.
One night, while driving home, it hit me—if there was one person who can really challenge Spotify, it was my brother. He was always asking me to look for hard-to-find CDs for him when I travel, giving me a list of obscure musicians I had never heard of.
“Search for Allan Holdsworth,” he said.
“Yup, he’s here.”
“Hindi nga?!” He was growing more excited by the minute. “Jojo Mayer?”
And that’s how I recruited another person to the cult of Spotify.
But even as I was already impressed, I gave Spotify one more test. We were renting a New York apartment through AirBNB and our host’s bio said that he works as a DJ. Surely he’s not on Spotify?
I did a quick search and gave Spotify a silent apology for doubting it. But yes, even Mr. DJ’s mixes are on Spotify—and they’re pretty good.
My love affair with Spotify continued, following my favorite artists and exploring playlists (see related story). It gives me the chance to explore other people’s jams and find out what musicians and celebrities are listening to (even US President Barack Obama has playlists on Spotify).
I especially had fun listening to the soundtrack of “Girls”; I would like to send a virtual hug to the person who put together all the songs ever used on the HBO show.
You can make your own playlists, too, of course. You can even allow friends access so they can add songs to your collaborative playlists. Spotify is social—the level of interaction is high, you can follow friends and see what they’ve been listening to, you can share your playlists and get alerts when your favorite band releases new music.
There are many ways to use Spotify—on your desktop, on your tablet, on your mobile. But I love using it on my iPhone; with the Spotify app, I feel like I have the world in my pocket.
“Spotify takes music enjoyment to a whole new level,” says Sunita Kaur, Spotify’s director for Asia.
I agree. It even makes traffic better. Instead of getting annoyed and impatient, I end up going, “Really we’re already here? But I’m not done listening to this album yet.” And I love that it’s fast—no buffering, no stalling. When I click on the song, it plays instantly, even when I’m using 3G. It’s great, too, that Spotify gives you the option of making your favorite playlists available offline.
I love listening to my favorite songs live and Spotify gives me access to a lot of them. The live version of Lorde’s “Royals” is usually the first one I listen to every time I open Spotify. If you want to listen to the latest hits, you can browse them according to genre and top tracks in different countries (yes, including the Philippines, and I wasn’t surprised to see Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” on the list).
New releases can be viewed with just one click. And if you can’t decide what to listen to, try the Discover page—it will suggest songs you should hear based on what you’ve previously enjoyed.
Since Spotify’s launch, praise from my friends on Facebook has been pouring in, including from someone who was ecstatic to discover that he can listen to Smokey Mountain’s songs again.
I couldn’t blame them, I’ve become a huge Spotify fan, too. I’m sorry, Ikea meatballs, but you’ve been dethroned as my favorite Swedish export.