I love Spotify for the same reasons you do. But I have good reasons to keep maintaining and using my own music file collection, in iTunes or Winamp. Yes, it’s extra work and not always as convenient, but I see it as a personal investment. Here’s why…
1. Songs in Spotify can & will randomly disappear
I have this playlist called “Interstellar Space“. In just 2 years, about 6 songs got greyed out and have become unavailable. That’s about 4% in just 2 years. Easy come, easy go I guess.
There are many reasons why artists withdraw their music on Spotify. Think of financial disputes, licensing issues, exclusivity contracts with other providers, management or copyright issues… But sometimes songs, just like certain episodes from TV shows (could) get pulled for more troublesome reasons; think censorship of forbidden content, ‘politically incorrect’ songs or simple political disputes. Imagine what would happen to the library of a rap/hip-hop fan if the law states they should abolish all music containing certain vocabulary?
When I love a song, it might be for life. I’ll decide when I’d like to remove it from my library.
2. I’m not paying Spotify for the rest of my life
As the sole provider in my household it’s my duty to keep track of all expenses. I try to avoid monthly subscriptions for leisure where I can because they add up over the years. €9,99 (individual) or €15,99 (family) per month may not seem much, but you need to think long term. In 10 years that’s €1.198 and €1.918.
It’s up to you to determine if that’s worth it. Think about it; On average – How many songs do you add to your library every year? Now Imagine you’d pay 1 to 2 euro’s for each song you’d actually want to keep forever and do the math.
Oh, and at least you’ll own the songs you’ve paid for. Because the day you stop your subscription is the day you’ll realize they were never ‘your’ songs to begin with, especially when you’re on a plane or camping without internet. Or worse, what if you lose your account (hacker), or Spotify is down or unavailable (e.g. in China) altogether? I’ve put a lot of work in my library (curating, ratings, labels…). My library will follow me for the rest of my life, and I might outlive a company like Spotify.
3. Not all music is in Spotify
I’ve encountered quite some music not being on Spotify. That’s understandable and not a big problem, since Spotify allows you to play local files too on PC. However, if you want to be able to play local files on a mobile device (where I usually play my music), you’re required to have a Premium subscription and said tracks need to be in a playlist. If you ask me, that’s just a completely unnecessary obstruction to try and convince me to go premium.
4. It’s not possible to create ‘smart playlists’
I’ve always enjoyed iTunes’ Smart Playlists. They’re like predetermined filters which select music from certain rating, duration, genre(s), (last) play-count… This way I always enjoy a relatively random, yet precise set of songs to match my mood. If I rate or label certain songs a certain genre, they’ll automatically appear in the right playlist(s).
In Spotify I’ve always had the feeling as if I’m always listening to the same playlists over and over again on one hand, or completely random unknown music on the other hand.
One thing I love about Spotify though, is browsing through other people’s playlists and the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist. I have discovered so much awesome songs this way.
5. Spotify doesn’t work in every music player or device
Sure, Spotify’s player is okay and compatible with most devices. It has some nice features, but it’s far from complete or perfect to my taste.
On my PC I like using iTunes because of the smart playlists and no-nonsense approach, or even Winamp because of the lightweight and visualizers. On my phone and tablet I prefer using Black Player (paid version) because of the customization options. And if I’d like to use another player tomorrow -with my current library- there’s no problem. A service like Spotify works with encrypted PCM files, so using another player is just out of the question.
Disclaimer: You can have it either way!
I know this article sounds a bit like a rant since it’s only focused on the downsides.
But don’t get me wrong: Spotify -both free & premium- obviously has a lot to offer. It’s extremely convenient and has made a massive impact on every music lover’s life, including my own. I still love and use the “discover weekly” playlists, where I’ve discovered so much new music in these past few years. I also love sharing playlists with friends… So consider me a happy Spotify user as well.
Who said you can’t have both?
So, what’s your preference? Do you still manage your own library? Or did you already decide to go all-in on Spotify? Or do you use both, like me? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading!