The future of
online music
is streaming

I’ve been using Spotify for some time now and it’s quickly replaced any other form of digital music I’ve used in the past, including iTunes.

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Published: Sun 18 Dec 2011, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:02 AM

I play Spotify on my Mac at work and run the Spotify app on my iPhone, listening to music commuting to work every day.

Spotify is a UK-based music streaming service, meaning you have access to the entire Spotify library to listen to any time you want to. But the music streams to your mobile device or computer, it’s not stored on the device.

Unfortunately Spotify is only available in some countries in Europe plus the US but hopefully the service will reach the Middle East at some point. Concerning Spotify, it’s not really the streaming aspect that appeals to me, it’s the selection. There are no definite numbers but some sources say there are more than 15 million tracks available in Spotify. Imagine that, having 15 million songs available to you, any time, any place.

I’ve discovered and rediscovered probably hundreds of artists, albums and songs in the few weeks I’ve used Spotify and it’s a liberating feeling not having to worry about what’s in my library.

Without something like Spotify I would have had to either buy the music and download it or find it some other — probably illegal — way and download it so I could listen to it. Those are now problems I avoid: I don’t have to hunt where to get music from, it’s all there, and I am legal.

The downside is I pay a monthly fee of $9.99 for Spotify Premium and I have to be connected to the Internet to listen to the music. With my iPhone that’s not much of a problem because I have a so called “unlimited” data plan, which, in reality is 10GB per month. With my Spotify listening habits on the go, that’s more than enough. I should add that there is an offline mode in Spotify, which I’ve yet to really explore, so that may take care of one downside.

If I stop paying for the service I can’t listen to the music anymore. For some that is a problem but I think it’s the way of the future, so if I put it a bit bluntly, get used to it.

Basically, with a streaming music service you have to let go of the notion of “owning” music. That can be tough because most of us are so used to owning music, from LPs, to cassettes, and most recently, digital MP3 files on your hard drive. But with music the thing is not whether you own it or now, it’s to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. That you get with streaming, more so than with the purchase and download alternative.

I like the freedom that streaming affords me and if I at some point won’t be able to pay for Spotify anymore I sure will miss it a lot. But I think streaming is the way of the future and we’ll have to get used to it for music as well as video. Bandwidth is good enough now for streaming music and we’ll get there for video as well.

Magnus Nystedt, @mnystedt

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