In Which I Become The Only Person In The Entire World Disappointed With Spotify

SpotifySpotify, the music-streaming service that’s been huge in Europe for several years now, has finally come to the US.  By all accounts it is pretty awesome, so I was excited to get an invite (as it’s currently in invite-only mode) and check it out.

Which led to the following reactions:

1) You have to download a client application? The hell? What is this, 1998? When I turn this thing on is it going to start playing Third Eye Blind at me?

2) They have versions of the client application for Windows and Mac, which I don’t use; but not for Linux, which I do.

3) But wait! There actually is a version of the client application for Linux. Only it doesn’t work with free Spotify accounts; it’s for paid accounts only.  And since it’s a “preview”, it’s full of rough edges and doesn’t come with technical support. (Wouldn’t that be an argument for just throwing it out there for free users, then? Don’t for-pay users generally expect things like finished software and technical support? Hey Spotify — you could even make it open source and let us fix it for you, for free! We’re Linux users, we’re used to having that kind of BDSM relationship with the services we love.)

4) For Linux users who can’t use their Linux application, they suggest using their Windows client by running it under WINE. Like every other time I’ve tried to run a non-trivial Windows app with WINE, when I tried it, it crashed. Awesome.

5) You can use Spotify on your phone, too! And there’s even a client app for webOS phones (mirabile dictu!). But it’s only available for paid accounts as well. And not just any paid accounts, but only the most expensive paid accounts.

So basically my shiny new Spotify account is completely useless, unless I pony up some cash. Which I’m not necessarily averse to doing — I’m a happy Pandora One subscriber, for instance.  But the problem here is that I have to pay on faith alone that (1) having a paid account will solve my access problems, and (2) I’ll find the Spotify service compelling enough to justify the fees, since there’s no way for me to try the service sufficiently before paying to give me confidence on either point.

The amazing thing is that going with a Web application rather than building individual clients for every OS would solve 99% of these problems. Which is kind of why the download-our-client-software model has been dead on the desktop for a long time. I guess the popularity of native apps on smartphones has brought it back from the dead, zombie-style.

Too bad.

UPDATE (July 21): Progress! I finally got Spotify’s Windows client running under WINE. However, to do so, I had to nuke my entire .wine directory (in which all my old preferences were stored) and create a new one.  So if you’ve been having trouble with Spotify + WINE, you might want to try setting up a clean WINE profile and trying it with that before giving up on it entirely.



July 19, 2011
2:55 pm

The reason than the client is not web based is that Spotify uses 2P2 technology (legal tech not to be confused with pirating) to stream the tracks in conjunction with the servers at Spotify data centers. This allows for a really snappy experience when starting a track which I personally think is more important than a web client interface. But it’s a matter of preference as always.

On the note that the streaming for mobile clients need a 9,99$ subscription is just pure business sense. If you can’t make the major labels happy with the business model you wont be in business for long and it’s in everyone’s interest that Spotify have a business model and pricing on it’s services that enable it to be a strong and reliable company.
Bear in mind that licensing fees for “non interactive streaming” which Pandora use is allot less than interactive streaming licensing fees.

Jason Lefkowitz

July 19, 2011
3:59 pm

“The reason than the client is not web based is that Spotify uses 2P2 technology…”

The geek in me finds that interesting, but it’s not really relevant to me as a potential customer. A service with nifty technology that I can’t use loses to a service with less-nifty technology that I CAN use.


July 19, 2011
4:51 pm

I agree with complaint of the phone app, but I have had no problems using the Windows client under Wine. The music starts playing immediately and I’ve found songs that I haven’t heard in years. Still evaluating, but so far I’m fairly impressed.


July 19, 2011
5:05 pm

I was merely pointing out the reason why Spotify don’t have a web based interface, but there is solutions even if there not straight forward ones.

You can go by other ways and “install” Spotify or other software that need to be installed on any R/W media if you use tools to make a portable application of it that don’t need install (VMware ThinApp is one option). I use this with old NES/DOS games with emulator on a USB stick myself for playing at work during lunch break. I also have CS 1.6, Office 2010 Pro+ and more on my USB stick as portable applications.

Anyway sorry to hear that you can’t use Spotify at work, best of luck.


July 19, 2011
6:53 pm

I’m currently using Grooveshark on my Linux netbook, mainly for the same reason you don’t like spotify: it’s a web-app, so it just works. Doesn’t need its own client or anything. in case you’re interested. I would have preferred a similar streaming service be integrated into Amarok/Banshee et al, but this is a nice stop-gap until then.


July 19, 2011
8:25 pm

Jason, I just found out that Vmware Thinapp is against Spotify Eula but I also found that to use Spotify you don’t need to install it. Just copy Spotify.exe from a computer to a USB stick and you are good to go. Just plug it in and start Spotify.exe at work. 🙂

Robin Duckett

July 20, 2011
8:32 am

Maybe now the americans are using Spotify, we’ll finally get some improvements to the Linux client.

They produce a libspotify library which you can link in your projects with an API, but unfortunately you can’t fix the bugs in the library 🙁


July 20, 2011
2:39 pm

the only problem i’ve had with the linux client is facebook connection. Everything else worked fine. The problem I have with Spotify is the mobile app. The android app is really poorly designed. Mog and grooveshark’s android app are much better.


March 16, 2012
9:39 am

“The reason than the client is not web based is that Spotify uses 2P2 technology (legal tech not to be confused with pirating)”
No, Spotify uses P2P, which is the same technology that runs some forms of pirating. There is nothing inherently wrong or illegal with P2P technology, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with http. It is just how it is used. Unfortunately, people have been brainwashed into thinking that P2P is bad. It isn’t.