Feb 2, 2020 [update]
Wow it's been a long time! We got an Android TV and I chastised wife
for putting ad-filled Spotify in the common airwaves of our home, so now
she's bought us all a Spotify subscription again. And I'm not really
willing to do the level of investigation necessary to check all of my old
complaints, but I have used it a very small amount over the last month
and have a few things to report.
- The Android TV app doesn't show most of the albums on Spotify. It is
stunning, I thought their catalog was a mockery until wife pointed out
that the website itself has literally 5x as much content as you can
access through the Android TV app. What a farce!
- The Android TV app has bad interaction with Android TV "Laidback"
Launcher -- notably, it breaks wake and suspend features. Every Android
TV app breaks wake in a different way. Android TV itself is a farce, but
Spotify is the only one that breaks suspend.
- The website player allows you to control the Android TV with only a
- A couple times, I have wanted to use the queue, and I have been unable
to figure it out. That said, I didn't try very hard. And I don't know
if it would have been buggy as hell if I'd figured it out. I just know
it's not intuitive -- I still have this experience of not knowing, if I
click on the icon of the album I want to listen to, will it play, queue,
Sep 2, 2011
I really think this whole concept of having a complete catalog at your
fingertips on all of your devices is top notch, so I have been trying
some services to that end. Rhapsody sucks.
Grooveshark also sucks, but
happens to have the best UI (though it is still shitty) (and at least it
is free). While I was
conducting this tour, Spotify came to
the US market, so I decided to give it a try.
I've been using it for about two weeks now, and I paid for it.
But not quite as much as Rhapsody does.
But almost that much.
- Songs longer than 10 minutes are missing. I am not the biggest fan
always of huge long songs, but the opportunity to try eclectic new stuff
was the whole fucking point.
- Different acts are missing than on Rhapsody, but it is the same
story: Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Beatles, The Tokens, Peter Gabriel,
King Crimson, Boney M, Bogdan Raczynski, The Monks, White Stripes are
missing (only available in compilations and tributes). Bands like The Bad
Plus, The Prodigy are missing most albums. Even Detroit Grand Pubahs are missing Galactic Ass Creatures from Uranus, and Nuttin Butt Funk is miscategorized as a compilation.
- The Monks is especially illustrative. If you search for them, you will find them, and the blurb about the artists will describe the 1960s minimalist proto-punk American band that I desire. But the single album (Suspended Animation) is from the 1970s new wave British band. So the injury is that they don't have The Monks, and the insult is that they want to give me something miscategorized to replace it. The silver lining is that I am looking at the edges of punk, and both bands are on the edges of punk, so at least my ears aren't offended. The real insult is that if I did come to like the new wave monks, I'd be fucked because Spotify is missing Bad Habits, the seminal album.
- A lot of albums are missing songs that aren't even longer than 10 minutes.
- Awkward two-stage search functionality. You have to type in the
name of the band, _then_ click on the name of the band. An extra step
because Spotify's trained monkeys are stupid.
- At least search works! (unlike Rhapsody)
- Like Rhapsody, some songs cause the queue to stop. I do not know if
it is due to an outage on the part of their cloud that stores that song,
or if that song is simply corrupted in their database. But it's pretty
fucking pathetic for a paid service.
- Classical music is miscategorized in every conceivable way.
- User interface
- Their queue is the most stupid implementation I have ever seen.
I could go on for hours. Basically, every time you accidentally do
anything other than right-click->Queue and then switch to the Play Queue
and then double click on the first track there (have I confused you yet?)
then it adds a whole list of crap you don't want to listen to at the
bottom of your queue that you can't delete.
- If you close the client, your play queue and history disappears.
The history's disappearance seems to be absolute -- I know no way to get
at my history without exporting it to something like last.fm.
- They split the queue into two parts: a queue and a history. Seems
like a good idea for reducing clutter but a side effect is that the
"previous track" button got completely fucked up. Like with Rhapsody,
you soon find yourself in a situation where tracks are appearing and
disappearing from your history at random, which is totally
- Android client
- Basically the same as Rhapsody's, except with a lot fewer obnoxious
bugs. So that's a win. But it still sucks.
- Same stupid design flaw where you can only make an album
off-line-available if you add it to a playlist. But awesome hack that if
you make a new playlist for an album, it automatically gets the album's
- If I really wanted to listen to a particular track on the run, the
youtube client was still usually the easier option. Which is pretty
- The free version sucks. Rhapsody gave me a trouble-free 2 week
trial, which was awesome (I learned everything I hate about the service
without expending any cash). Spotify's nuissance ads encouraged me to
subscribe, which was a major mistake.
- The free version's nuissance ads are still random pop metal garbage,
even though I used it for two weeks without listening to anything like that.
Post-Google, non-targetted ads are a total mystery to me. How
could anyone be this stupid? The information you gather about your users
is the most valuable asset a company has on the interwebs, but Spotify
isn't using it.
- Their support for paying customers sucks. I told them I wanted a refund since they had cut all of the 10-minute tracks. It took them 13 days to respond, and the response was simply to tell me to read a 10-month-old support forum post about the issue. I had already read that post, and determined that it was irrelevant because it promised that the situation would soon be resolved...last year. They ignored my request for a refund. I am contemplating l'chargeback.
So, really, that's not nearly as infuriating as Rhapsody was. Mostly
because the client works, and the search function works. But man is the
client's queue really extra super stupid beyond all belief. But at
least you can work around the stupid and then it behaves in a
consistent and predictable fashion -- it is stupid, not broken.
But I cannot overstate how lame it is that they cut out songs
longer than 10 minutes. And then the total failure to have complete
discographies is also epic. This shit sucks.
The whole point of this service is for me to explore music I don't
know. But it is when I am exploring new artists that it is most
imperative to have a complete discography. It is hard for me to find
worthwhile suggestions, but when I get one, to find that that album is
unavailable is pretty disappointing. And it is even more obnoxious when
I am testing the waters with a new artist, and Spotify says they only
have one album, and that album sucks. Since I don't know anything about
the artist, I will think the artist sucks. Once I had the suspicion that
Spotify's catalog is patheticly small, I started searching for artists I
already know I like, and I have found specifically that the more I like
something, the more likely Spotify is to be missing it. This is exactly
In other words, the specific problem with Grooveshark that I'm willing
to pay money to solve is the fact that Grooveshark's collection is
woefully inadequate. Problem status: still unsolved.
Spotify fucking sucks.
One of the things I have learned, which I hope the next competitor will
also learn, is that once you solve the problem of amassing a large
collection (which Spotify has not), you will still face the problem of
organizing it. And there is obviously only one way to resolve that
problem: crowd-sourcing. Someone knows that Daniel Barenboim is a
pianist; Isaac Stern is a violinist; the New York Philharmonic is their
backing band; Beethoven is a composer; Violin Concerto in D Major is
a synonym for Op. 61; and 1806 (composition) is not the same year as 1975
(performance). And that person is likely to care enough to fill
in the meta-data. Of course, before you get there you have to come up
with a more extensible meta-data, and a search function that is slightly
more detailed than the pure-keyword approach they use today.