All You Can Eat Music. So Disappointed.

To much fanfare the European music service Spotify was released this week. A buddy of mine sent me an invite so I checked it out. I’m so disappointed.

If there’s one thing that pisses me off, it’s being all worked up by the media and then discovering that something SUCKS. And Spotify really, really, really sucks. I checked out a competitor called Rdio, and it sucks too. Here’s why.

When I fire up a piece of music software I generally want to do three basic things which can be related to three real-life music experiences:

  1. I want to listen to specific pieces of music (like a Walkman/iPod)
  2. I want to browse music in a certain category (like a music store)
  3. I want to listen to pre-programmed music based on category (like a radio)

The problem with Spotify is that it doesn’t really do any of these well in my opinion.

The first requirement, listening to specific pieces of music, it does best. however, having collected music for the last 35 years, there’s nothing I really want to hear that I don’t own. I suppose there’s some benefit to having my music “in the cloud”, but considering the fact that a LOT of my music is not on Spotify, it’s still a better experience to just sync my phone with my library.

The second requirement, functioning as a music store, is probably the most frustrating failure of these services. Spotify has a crazy boolean search where you can enter stuff like artist:”grateful dead” year:1965-1970. REALLY? Are you serious? I’m a programmer. I write code for a living and this really makes me cringe. I would NEVER, EVER make my users learn some crazy syntax like this. I mean, is it too freaking hard to have a list I can click on??? On top of that, it just doesn’t work. Searching for “rock” returned zero results. Searching for “heavy metal” returned a bunch of plain rock, but then without anyway to sort and filter by release date my entire list was just old crap I already have. Useless.

Lastly, niether Spotify or Rdio has actual channels like a radio where you can just pick one and hear a pre-programmed stream of songs. I find this incredibly ironic for Rdio since… well, the name of their company is RaDIO.

So in my opinion, subscription music services are just a ridiculously lacking. You are never going to topple Apple unless you get the basics 100% right. And none of these services do that.