Exploring the Spotify Ecosystem with Android
If you want to play music on your Galaxy Tab, there are plenty of free apps to choose from. Google Play Music is installed on the Tab by default so you can download music from the Google Play Store and play songs in the Play Music app. When you open the Play Store, view the Music and Audio apps category, and then view the Top Free section, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with the hundreds of choices. So which music player app should you choose? With free apps you have the opportunity to try them out and see how they work for you, and one free service that’s received a lot of buzz lately is Spotify.
Spotify is a Swedish company that rolled out its service in 2008 and built up a strong following in western European and Scandinavian countries before coming to the United States in 2011. Since then, the Spotify user base has grown to 10 million users with 3 million of them as subscribers. There are two big arrows in Spotify’s quiver. One is that Spotify offers 15 million tracks from record labels including Sony, EMI, and Warner Media Group. The other is that Spotify is tightly integrated with Facebook—to the point where you need a Facebook account to log into Spotify for the first time. After you log in, you can create your own Spotify account.
There are three versions of Spotify that you can choose from:
- The free version allows you to listen to Spotify’s entire catalog. The catch is that you have to listen to advertisements from time to time. Originally Spotify was going to allow free users to have unlimited streaming for the first 6 months and then limit the streaming time to 10 hours per month. As of March 2012, Spotify announced that they would keep the unlimited streaming “honeymoon” going.
- The unlimited version removes the ads and provides unlimited music streaming. This version costs $4.99 per month. Since Spotify has mentioned that the unlimited version doesn’t have any time restrictions on streaming, it’s likely that Spotify will introduce time limits for the free accounts at some point.
- The premium version includes everything in the unlimited version and also includes access to the mobile Spotify app as well as the ability to play your songs when you’re not connected to the Internet. You’ll also get enhanced sound quality and exclusive content. Spotify offers a 30-day trial for their premium service and if you like it, you’ll pay $9.99 per month.
When you search for Spotify in the Google Play Store you’ll see not only the Spotify app you can download but also a number of related apps in Spotify’s ecosystem as shown in Figure 1..
Figure 1. The Spotify app and related apps in the Google Play Store.
After you download and install the app, you can log in using your Facebook account. After you go through a couple of screens you’ll be asked to install the Facebook Spotify app as shown in Figure 2. When you listen to a song on Spotify, you’ll be able to share that information automatically in your profile and communicate that to all of your friends. If you don’t want to do that, tap Cancel in the upper left corner of the screen. Install the app by tapping Install in the upper right corner of the page.
Figure 2. The Spotify Facebook app installation page.
After you install the Facebook app (or not), you’ll see the Spotify screen with the list of newest tracks under the What’s New tab shown in Figure 3. The tabs at the top of the screen keep you up to date with the newest tracks, the tracks Spotify users are listening to the most in the Top Tracks tab, and read what Spotify users are talking about in the Feed tab.
Figure 3. New tracks in the What’s New tab.
At the bottom of the screen you’ll see a menu bar with icons shown in Figure 4 that you can tap to:
- View your playlists
- Search for a song
- Open the play screen to play music
- View what’s new, which is open by default, and
- Do more including change settings, get information about Spotify, and log out so you can log back in as a different user.
Figure 4. The icons at the bottom of the screen.
You can search for specific tracks or artists by tapping the Search icon and then tapping the Search button in the upper left corner of the screen. After you tap the button, type the track title or artist name in the search box and then tap Go on the keyboard. The list of tracks appears in the Tracks tab shown in Figure 5. You can also view the albums from that artist in the Albums tab and also view a list of all artists you’ve searched for in the Artists tab.
Figure 5. The list of tracks returned from the search.
When you click on a song track it starts to play and the album cover appears on the screen shown in Figure 6. The player controls appear at the bottom of the album cover.
Figure 6. The album cover appears on the screen when you play a track.
If you want to get more information about the song and perform other tasks such as add the song to your personal playlist, click the info button (the I in the circle) to the bottom right of the album cover. You can also favorite the song by tapping the black star to the bottom left of the album cover (it’s a bit hard to see) and after you tap it the star turns gold. Then you can tap the Playlists icon in the menu bar and view your favorite tracks in the Starred category.
Close the play window by clicking the down arrow at the top center of the screen. The list of tracks appears on screen again. You can go back to playing the song you were listening to by clicking the up arrow between the Search and What’s New icons.
If you want to change Spotify settings, tap the More icon and then tap Settings. In the Settings page shown in Figure 7, you can change different settings including offline mode, sync options, streaming options, and also tell Spotify if you want to show what you listen to on your Facebook profile or not.
Figure 7. The Settings page.
If you go back to the Google Play Store and then search for Spotify again, you’ll see a list of apps produced by different people that you can download. There are dozens of Spotify apps and see how well they work for you. Some apps have both free and paid versions so you can try the app before you pay for the full version.
One example is SpotSearch for Spotify, shown in Figure 8. This app allows you to search for the title of a song by typing in part of the song lyrics. SpotSearch finds songs that match the lyric phrase you entered and provides links to the songs on Spotify and/or YouTube.
Figure 8. SpotSearch in the Google Play Store.
If you decide to try Spotify, get more information about Spotify on its Web site. There you can get more information about features and a comparison of free and paid options so you can learn what version of Spotify is best for you.
Eric Butow is the owner of Butow Communications Group (BCG) in Jackson, California. BCG offers Web development, online marketing, technical documentation, and computer-based training services . He has written 18 books, with two more books in development for publication in fall 2012. Eric has also developed and taught networking and usability courses for Ed2Go and California State University, Sacramento.
When he’s not working in (and on) his business or writing books, you can find Eric enjoying time with friends, walking around the historic Gold Rush town of Jackson, and helping his parents manage their infant and toddler daycare business.