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Spotify logoEvery so often an application comes along that simply blows you away and the free version of Spotify is definitely one of the best music apps I've ever used. You know you're dealing with a serious piece of software when a band as big as U2 decides to launch an exclusive preview of their album on it. The closest equivalent I can think of is Pandora (which is now unavailable in Europe) but this is on a whole new level and far better.

At the moment, the free version is in beta stage and you need an invite from the developers or a friend to use it. Spotify is basically like having access to a huge amount of commercial music, in a format as elegant as on iTunes, but available to you for free, wherever you go. It's simple to use, beautifully presented, the amount of music available is unbelievable and the quality of streaming is superb.

Spotify screenshot

What's the catch? You just have to put up with a few non-obtrusive ads inside the Spotify interface and occasionally in between songs. At the time of writing, the free version is in beta so you'll have to sign-up with your e-mail address and await an invitation. Alternatively, if you know someone who's already got an invite, they can invite you in if they've got a few invites left. As a new user, I have no invites as yet but I suspect that this increases the longer you use the service. If you can't wait that long to try it out, you can buy a one day pass for about $1 or a month's pass for around $10. The slight advantage of signing up to either of these is that both are completely ad free.

Spotify screenshot

When you open Spotify initially, you may be offered the chance to preview a big new album by paying for the premium service (at the moment it's U2's new album). You can ignore this though and go onto the main interface where you're presented with all the latest big releases. So, fancy listening to Coldplay's new album? No problem, just click on the album cover and it will start streaming almost instantly with the track listing right in front of you. Or, fancy listening to the Manic Street Preacher's entire back catalogue? Just search for them and you have everything they've ever done, with album art, album reviews and track listings ready for you to listen to!

Spotify screenshot

The quality is ridiculously good for a streaming app - in fact, I think it's better than my own MP3 collection. Spotify uses the Ogg Vorbis q5 codec which streams at approximately 160kb/s compared to my own MP3s at a measly 128kb/s. The Spotify FAQ says that you can also buy tracks if you want to download them onto your Mac although this is only available for selected artists and probably varies depending on the country you are using it in.

There's also a radio function on Spotify which allows you to listen to artists by genre and time period but I found this to be the least useful part of the whole app. The artists it throws up seem very obscure and there didn't seem to be anyway to quickly scroll through them. It does however allow you to come up with some very odd playlists possibilities - Techno with 60's anyone?

Spotify screenshot

What I'm really loving about Spotify though is that I'm already discovering music that I wouldn't normally. For instance, I wouldn't personally buy or even download the Coldplay album but erm, a bit like Steven Gerrard, I am partial to a bit of them and I've enjoyed listening to their album on Spotify. Similarly, I'm discovering tracks from artists I'm a big fan but I've never heard before. This is because Spotify highlights tracks by the artist you're listening to that feature on other albums - such as charity tracks they've recorded or special collaborations with other artists.

There aren't a lot of social networking features in Spotify although this is not something I use very much anyway. For those who do, you'll be pleased to hear that the developers have added support scrobbling to Last.fm.

Music applications simply don't get better than this. Spotify is surely the future of music distribution and it's all for free. If you're not bothered about owning the music you listen to or extensive social networking elements, you will love it. Let's just hope that the developers can keep the record labels, artists and bands happy otherwise it may sufffer the same demise as Pandora did in Europe.

By the way, if you want to learn more about how it all started and how it works, there's an interesting interview in The Local with the Swedish founder Daniel Ek.

Commented

  • Is Spotify the best free online music app ever? - OnSoftware | thefaqsecrets |
    25/02/09
    Is Spotify the best free online music app ever? - OnSoftware | thefaqsecrets

    [...] Excerpt from: Is Spotify the best free online music app ever? - OnSoftware [...]

  • james bueno |
    26/02/09
    james bueno

    I have yet to try Spotify. I am a huge fan of iTune and i love online music so much!Kudos to those who come up with this new craze. I will be back here to let you know my insights,I'll get the $1 trial first.

  • Nicholas Mead |
    26/02/09
    Nicholas Mead

    I wish I could give you an invite James but Spotify haven't given me any yet! $1 is an extremely small price to pay though for what you get on Spotify. What I'm increasingly realising with Spotify is that I'm discovering so much music and even interviews and audio tracks from my favourite artists that I simply wouldn't have normally. This is because usually, Spotify shows you absolutely every major commercial release by the artist or related to them, many of which I was unaware of or wouldn't normally buy in the high street. Anyway, enjoy - I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

  • Tom Clarke |
    26/02/09
    Tom Clarke

    @James - sent you an invite. Don't forget to let us know what you think.

    I've got 9 invites remaining, so if anyone wants one, just comment here.

  • annette |
    26/02/09
    annette

    Hi Just seen on the news about Spotify in the UK and would love an inite if you have any left :-)

  • carol connell |
    26/02/09
    carol connell

    would love an invite for spotify seen on news been on internet and would like to give this a try thank you

  • kim |
    27/02/09
    kim

    please can i have an invite if you have any left. I sent this article to my son and he sign up for the 1 day pass he said it great. well done guys.

  • kim |
    27/02/09
    kim

    have just signed in to my spotify account and i feel like a kid in a sweet shop....so many to choose so much to see...this is "THE BEST MUSIC SITE EVER". Thanks softonic and thanks to spotify :-)

  • browneyez |
    27/02/09
    browneyez

    this is first time on this site it seems legit so i will be back

  • ingrid |
    16/03/09
    ingrid

    Hiya Tom Clarke, i'm ingrid, i'd like 2 have an invitation 4 the spotify, if u have any invitation 2 send me i'll be thank u, my e-mail is qki_royoboyo@hotmail.com cheers!!!

  • Tom Clarke |
    16/03/09
    Tom Clarke

    @Ingrid - sent! Enjoy.

  • Dee |
    18/03/09
    Dee

    Hello Tom! I was just wondering if I could please get an invite for Spotify. I would love to check it out for myself. My email is dee013@gmail.com...Tons of thanks!

  • Tom Clarke |
    18/03/09
    Tom Clarke

    @Dee - Invitation sent!

  • Bev |
    18/03/09
    Bev

    Hi Tom have just heard about Spotify. Have you got any invitations left? If you have I would love one. Thanks Bev. My email is bevschooner@hotmail.co.uk

  • Tom Clarke |
    19/03/09
    Tom Clarke

    @Bev - invitation sent! Enjoy! I've got 5 left.

  • Danial Sharp |
    19/03/09
    Danial Sharp

    Nice sincere review there m8...would love to be able to try out spotify during the beta....if you have any more invites left could you please invite me...

  • Rahul Gupta |
    09/04/09
    Rahul Gupta

    Hey Tom, just experienced Spotify. Any invitations left mate? Cheers RG (email: rahulgupta.dc@gmail.com.)

  • Kristina |
    22/04/09
    Kristina

    Anyone got invites left? Please let me know! (Mail me if you´ve got invites left, Acid.pink.lemonade92@hotmail.com)

  • flan |
    07/05/09
    flan

    just put in this link www.spotify.com/get-started and u dont need invitations or anything!!!

  • Nicholas Mead |
    07/05/09
    Nicholas Mead

    @flan, That only works in certain countries.

  • mark |
    16/05/09
    mark

    if anyone has invite i would be very greatefull my account is maxifox and email maxifox0803@googlemail.com Had spotify for about 2 months. ok thanks

  • Ivan |
    08/08/09
    Ivan

    You can get spotify without an invite if you're in the UK

  • Artur |
    17/11/09
    Artur

    Can you send me an invitation pleaze I LOVE SPOTIFY!!!!!!!!!! arturtuxo@hotmail.com

  • Artur |
    17/11/09
    Artur

    PLZ i love spotify i will tank you VERY much!!!!!!!!

  • Olivia |
    13/02/10
    Olivia

    can anyone send me an invite pleaseee? i would REALLY appreciate it :) alongcameolly@hotmail.co.uk :) thanksss

  • Hisham |
    16/03/10
    Hisham

    Can you please send me an invite if anyone has any left? hishamatari@gmail.com

  • Tom Clarke |
    17/03/10
    Tom Clarke

    @Olivia & Hisham - Sent! Hope you enjoy it.

  • Ciaran Murphy |
    09/04/10
    Ciaran Murphy

    Tom, could you please send me an invite :) it would be much apreciated :D thanks murf-nlr@hotmail.co.uk

  • mathew |
    12/04/10
    mathew

    im looking forward to checking this out, it sounds promising. would someone please send me an invite to snoopyhaze@hotmail.com. thanks

  • Stevie |
    28/04/10
    Stevie

    Tom Clarke, if you have any invitations left please may I use one? I've been trying to get one for ages.

  • Mols |
    04/05/10
    Mols

    tom clarke, do you have last.fm and any of the invites left cos i really need one!

  • Tom Clarke |
    05/05/10
    Tom Clarke

    @Stevie and Mols - I've sent you both invites for Spotify.

    You can sign up for Last.fm for free here: http://www.last.fm/ - but a premium account costs €3 per month.

  • Preston |
    07/05/10
    Preston

    hi tom, have you got any more spotify invites? if so, could i have on please?

  • Jesse |
    07/05/10
    Jesse

    Hey anyone can someone send me a invite cause i really want spotify, please ?

  • reece |
    08/05/10
    reece

    hey tom Clarke have you got any spotify invites plz really wanna try spotify if you have plz send it to reecemarshall885@googlemail.com ;D

  • Tom Clarke |
    08/05/10
    Tom Clarke

    @Preston, Reece & Jesse - I've sent you each an invite. Enjoy!

  • Katie |
    08/05/10
    Katie

    May I have an invite?

  • Mark |
    08/05/10
    Mark

    Can I have an invite please?

  • Lee |
    08/05/10
    Lee

    May I take an invite?

  • xcb |
    10/05/10
    xcb

    Could someone send me an invite? Thank you xcb@freemail.hu

  • Ciaran Carrick |
    12/05/10
    Ciaran Carrick

    Hi Tom Clarke, Any Chance U Could Sent Me An Invite ?? Would B Great ckecarrick@gmail.com

  • Tom Clarke |
    12/05/10
    Tom Clarke

    More invites sent!

  • Rupal |
    16/05/10
    Rupal

    Hi Tom!! I am in love with spotify! Would be great if you could send me an invite?? rupal_88@hotmail.com....thanks!!

  • chris |
    16/05/10
    chris

    Hey, would love a spotify invite will be forever in your debt thanks!!!

  • Tom Clarke |
    18/05/10
    Tom Clarke

    Hi all - I've sent out Spotify invites to everyone who left a comment.

    Please note, though, that as of today Spotify no longer requires an invite to sign up. You can sign up for free at Spotify.com

    We won't therefore be able to send out any more invites.

  • GeorgeIbiza |
    19/05/10
    GeorgeIbiza

    Hi Tom, I read Softonic almost every day to keep up to date with the news and articles.....I can't believe that I missed your offer of an invite to Spotify. Please check to see if there is just one more to send me at george.ibiza@gmail.com Cheers George :o)

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    19/03/11
    mr lu

    As summer is approaching, http://wwww.pandoraitalian.com" >Pandora will bring marvellous surprises to you.. Silver serves as the most intimate element for http://wwww.pandoraitalian.com" >Pandora, meanwhile it makes you feel tough and a sense of strength. To your surprise, with the cost of only $200, the amazing http://wwww.pandoraitalian.com" >Pandora bracelet of rare stones and exceptional design can be your own.

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    19/03/11
    mr lu

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  • Jonathan |
    20/06/11
    Jonathan

    Tom, I would like an invite if you have any left because i love spority and i only got the free version of it so i can only play music for 10 hours i would love an invite from you. Thanks

30/08/14
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