Spotify is no longer content to just compete with radio, now they’re competing with the idea of even owning music.
Listening to music with Spotify used to be a slightly strange experience. While you could create playlists, it was a poor method for building a proper music collection like your iTunes library. Also, while you had access to thousands of artists, there was no easy way to save a list of your favourites; even if you listened to the same bands over and over again, you’d have to search for them each time.
The Playlist Paradigm
Spotify was, initially, never meant to be a direct competitor to owning music. Instead, Spotify targeted radio. Rather than turning on a radio station that played the Billboard Hot 100, the idea was that you’d listen to Spotify’s Billboard Hot 100 playlist. You would still keep your music collection in iTunes — or a large stack of CDs.
You wouldn’t listen to the same artists or albums over and over again, with Spotify, you’d listen to playlists. Spotify was built around making it as easy as possible to create them. Apps that made, or shared, playlists only furthered this aim.
For a long time, if you wanted to save an album to your Spotify account, you’d have to create a playlist of all the songs in that album. This was obviously not an ideal situation; the Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Californication would be lumped in with your Guilty Pleasures playlist.
Also, unless you went to the effort of manually creating and sorting folders, there was no easy way to browse your music logically. A Stadium Arcadium playlist was as likely to be next to Jimmy Buffett’s Greatest Hits as any other Chillis’ albums.
If you wanted a nice, easily browsed and searched music collection with all your favourite artists, albums and songs, you still had to use iTunes, or one of the alternatives like Clementine.
The Paradox Of Choice
Why is it that you can always quickly find something to watch on TV but it takes you far longer with Netflix? Surely Netflix’s limitless selection would make it easier to find something worth viewing? Psychologist Barry Schwartz coined the phrase The Paradox of Choice to describe how, when given more and more options to choose from, people get less sure of — and happy with — their decisions. This paradox plays a role in listening to music with Spotify.
With Spotify it was always possible to use search to find any artist and have all their albums available in one place. This would seem to solve one of the major problems I have with playlists. Without the ability to save a list of your favourites, however, you would always have countless possible choices. If you were in the mood for some alternative rock, selecting, from every alternative band ever, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers was a difficult and involved choice. There were too many other options for it to be an easy decision.
With a smaller, carefully selected music collection to choose from, finding your favourite music was easier. You weren’t overwhelmed with options. Choosing the Chillis over the one or two other alternative bands in your iTunes music library didn’t require anywhere near the same degree of thought as picking them on Spotify.
Introducing Your Music
Over the past few months Spotify has rolled out a Your Music feature that finally makes it possible to build an iTunes style music collection. Now, rather than using iTunes for your music and Spotify for your casual listening, you can get the best of both worlds — just with Spotify.
The Your Music section includes all your previously created playlists. It also adds sections for saved songs, albums and, by extension, artists. The ability to save selected songs and albums into an easy to navigate collection has made it possible to build a real music library in Spotify. The Songs, Albums and Artists sections are clearly inspired by the structure in iTunes and many other media players, and will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used one.
Saving Songs & Albums
While it’s not yet possible to save an artists entire work in one go, any individual song or album can be added to Your Music collection. With the updates, Spotify has added a large Save button to every album page. Simply clicking that will add all the songs in the album to Your Music.
To just add an individual song, click the + icon next to the play button.
Using Your Music
The structure of Your Music is very similar to iTunes. The Songs tab is a long list of every song you’ve saved. You can sort the list alphabetically by track, artist and album or by song length and when it was added with the desktop apps. On the mobile apps, you can only sort it by title and recently added.
On mobile devices — so long as you are a premium subscriber — you are able to download all the songs in Your Music with a single tap by clicking the Available Offline toggle. Spotify was already the best way to listen to music on your iPhone; with these improvements it’s even better.
The Albums and Artists tabs are slightly different to the songs tab. Rather than a simple list, they display the album cover or images of the band. They can be sorted alphabetically, by when they were added or, most interestingly, by play count.
Spotify: The Only Music App You Need
With the introduction of these new features, I have moved all my music listening to Spotify. Being able to sync all my saved music to my phone with a single tap has removed any need for iTunes. While the changes may seem subtle, they have turned Spotify into a fully featured music player as well as an awesome streaming service.
Do you use Spotify on your phone? Is the new “Your Music” feature a game-changer for you? Tell us how you use Spotify in the comments.