The prospect of all that music available instantly and without limit on your phone makes services such as Spotify and its older cousin Rhapsody pretty compelling as legal updates to the original and subversive Napster, even as online giants Amazon, Google, and Apple contend as music-storage services.
Spotify is quick, portable, and high-quality and emphasizes its social-network functions. Your phone and PC will sync up favorites and playlists when they are near each other on the same WiFi link. You can send tracks to Facebook friends who've signed up with Spotify, or post links and comments on Facebook and Twitter.
Other than a "what's new" icon on the bottom of my iPhone screen, there's not much going on in the way of music recommendations, but I had a great time finding and listening to albums from Beyoncé, Coldplay, Decemberists, Good Old War, Michael Bublé, and Gandalf Murphy.
But, what's this? Even with the advertised 15 million available songs, there are gaps. Artist permissions are a constant frustration for digital music services, and Spotify is no exception. Metallica is a no-show - except for other bands' covers and tributes. Likewise for Arcade Fire, album of the year winner at this year's Grammys.
Spotify says this about the matter: "Unfortunately, there are some artists who have opted not to be a part of Spotify at this point in time. Some frequently requested artists that are not in Spotify include Metallica, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin. We hope that they change their minds regarding streaming soon!"
Other applications to use with Spotify include Spot Alarm by B4print.se, a $1.99 app that sets up your Apple device as an alarm clock to wake you to your chosen tunes. Another is Spot Remote, by Axel Moller, a remote control that for $2.99 lets you control Spotify running on a Mac from a mobile device, but it was not getting good reviews of late.
Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley
at 215-854-5114, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ReidKan on Twitter. Read his columns at www.philly.com/kanaley.