You may have read about Spotify, the English internet service that claims well over a million songs, supposedly having about everything (it doesn’t, about which more in a bit, but is extraordinary in what it has). Right now, there are two ways to access it: A free account, which has some advertising involved, and a $9.95 subscription with no ads, the ability to listen on a mobile device and while offline (for $4.95 you get no ads, but no mobile device or offline listening).
You have to have an invite now to try it; email me if you want one.
I got it about a month ago, and have been playing with it a bit, trying the free version for now. I find the interface annoying, but, other than that, am beginning to warm up to it.
I did a couple of things to check it out: First, I played stump-the-database, which I found not too hard. 70s Memphis rock from Moloch (proto-metal) or the Hot Dogs (power pop)? Nope. I forget what else I tried. On the one hand, it’s not hard to stump it. On the other hand, if you are looking for anything that ever sold more than a smidgen or genres that never broke out to a larger audience, you’ll find it. It’s also a great way to catch up on artists you’ve sort of given up on.
The best thing, though, is the opportunity to hear things you’re curious about, but not curious enough to buy yet.
And about the same time, I’ve found the ideal companion for Spotify. Robert Christgau has had a blog for just short of a year in which he does four capsule graded reviews a week in the style of his old Village Voice Consumer’s Guide column. He explains what he’s up to in his first post– he’s only writing about albums he would have graded B+ or above, largely. His reviews are models of economy, explaining with clarity what caught his ear, and allow me to quickly decide whether to check the records out. And Spotify is the perfect way to do that. I’ve been listening to things as varied as the new records by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and Shabazz Palaces, to revisiting The Five Royales and Dr John’s Gris Gris.
Meanwhile, I note that Slate is streaming the whole Ry Cooder album that comes out next week, which is pretty much a protest album. Interesting stuff.