After being around for a while in Europe, and according to the latest rumors, Spotify will be available stateside in a few months. While I’m sure music fans in the United States are looking forward to testing it, the truth is that all that glitters is not gold. Spotify is a great app, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve raved about it a couple of times on this blog. But there’s also a big catch to it: ads.
Spotify is currently offered in three versions: Premium (€9.99 per month), Day pass (€0.99 for 24 hours) and Free, which is ad-supported. This last version is the one that raises most controversy. I’ve been using Spotify for seven months now, and during this time I’ve noticed an increase in the number and frequency of ads. I understand Spotify needs to make money in some way, and I’m honestly willing to listen to ads from time to time if that means I can access their extensive music catalog for free. But what I don’t like at all is having ads every two or three tracks. Not even standard commercial radio stations have that much advertising!
The funny thing is that I’m not the only one that has noticed this increase. The whole OnSoftware editorial team was also complaining about it, so we decided to conduct a small research project: listen to music on Spotify for a whole hour and count all the ads you get. As a result, Jon, Nick and me got seven ads each, while Tom had six and James, four. Not that bad for just 60 minutes of music. It seems that the more often you use Spotify, the more ads you get: James is almost new to the program and he only had four, while the rest of us, Spotify veterans, obtained higher scores.
And what are Spotify ads about? Well, most of them explain new features in the application or encourage you to upgrade to the Premium version. Others are about MP3 download services, or new albums and artists you can find on the program. Some of them are in English, which I find a bit out of place since we’re in Spain. And the vast majority are quite poor in quality, but there’s no way you can skip them: if you turn the volume down so as to not hear them, they’ll be paused until you turn the volume up again.
I used to love Spotify and recommended it to all of my friends. Now I’m not so sure about it. On the one hand, it’s a simple program that offers an incredible amount of music, just a click away; on the other hand, the Free version has become so ad-ridden that it’s a bit too annoying to use. Sorry, but I’m back to Winamp now.