To coin a popular phrase: this changes everything...
As long time readers will know, we're huge music fans at TR (boarding on addicted) and for those who haven't yet jumped on the Spotify bandwagon there really is no longer an excuse. The ingenius streaming music company has this week recognised what a fine nation of music lovers we are and made the UK the first country to benefit from open registrations. By contrast everywhere else membership remains invitation only.
"Starting today people in the UK will no longer need an invitation to join Spotify," declared the company on its official blog. "You can register for our free service directly from our website as always our premium, ad-free service is still available. However, we want to make sure that everyone who uses Spotify gets the same fast, uninterrupted experience so providing a stable service is our priority. If growth happens too fast and it starts affecting quality we may have to re-instate the invitation system, hopefully this won't happen. If everything goes well we hope to do the same in other countries in the future, but for now if you're in the UK and have been looking for an invitation to join, the wait is over."
Now for those living under a very large rock on an extremely distant planet for the last few months you may be wondering what Spotify is? In short: it's a jukebox in the Cloud. The service has licensing deals with the Big Four record labels (EMI, Warner Music, Sony BMG and Universal) plus numerous other smaller players meaning almost anything you could wish is there (almost).
Best of all however is Spotify's own proprietary tech which streams in Ogg (quality equivalent to 192kbps MP3) instantly, ie no delays, no buffering, even when scanning a track. How it manages this I have no idea but even on a 2Mbit line this happens and without hogging your bandwidth. I've not had a single track skip, ever. The downside is the free service plonks in unskippable ads every 5/6 tracks but a subscription (£9.99pm) wipes these out.
It's not a Last FM rip-off either, the two happily co-exist since the former deals in generalisations and the latter in your specific artist, album or track needs. Consequently you can listen through whole artist back catalogues, old favourites or even guilty pleasures who probably wouldn't own. My selection so far today includes these nuggets:
Don't damn me - Guns n Roses
We didn't start the fire - Billy Joel (yes I can sign along!)
Grip like a Vice - The Go! Team
Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo
On the Rhodes Again - Morcheeba
Shake! Shake! - The Subways
Mad About You - Hooverphonic
The Next Life - Suede
Bullet in the Head - Rage Against the Machine
Paper Planes - A R Rahman (from the Slumdog OST)
Ny Batteri - Sigur Ros
Hunted by a Freak - Mogwai
A sneaky play of Kevin Rudolf's Let it Rock
(Guilty pleasure warning) Rock me Amadeus - Falco
Would any of these have been on my day-to-day MP3 player/phone - not likely (caveats: except The Go! Team and The Subways), but it's some of the most enjoyable music listening I've had in many months. If you don't know any of these search for them in Spotify and hit play!
Just try it...!