Spotify Is Music Streaming Without RIA Worries

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spotifyPirates now have a choice that doesn’t involve potential lawsuits. The music streaming site, Spotify, has the blessing of several in the music industry: EMI Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, Universal Music, and a few of the smaller record labels. The service itself has two revenue streams, depending on the user’s choice: paid subscription or ad-sponsored free use.

It works through a small download that acts as a “receiver” for the streams—sort of like a radio receiver for your computer. Using the streamer, you can search the database by artist, genre, etc. and create playlists of songs to stream. Tracks are streamed as often as you’d like, ad-free or otherwise (depending on your subscription).

Playlists can be shared with friends through the service or on Last.fm. Future plans include list plugins for Facebook and Myspace, according to Spotify.

The bad news is that the service is currently only available in Europe, but new markets will be opened this year, including the U.S. Current users around the Web are saying the site’s speed, usability, and song database depth are very good. Some are complaining about commercial frequency and some sound quality issues, though.

The songs can’t be downloaded and stored, thanks to the RIA-friendly proprietary stream, though, so you can’t put them on your iPod or other device for more portable use. I expect there will be a hack for this sooner rather than later, if it doesn’t exist already. The ability to build playlists based on streams as well as your local collection (such as ripped music on your hard drive) would be a bonus and isn’t offered by Spotify.

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At least they’re on the right track, making both music fans and the recording industry more or less happy. As the service and ones like this evolve, we’ll probably see more user-oriented additions to make things happy.

Once services like this catch on, it’s only a matter of time before Apple and other music device makers start integrating with them, making for more portable music. In fact, with the new stuff going on in Detroit right now, it’s likely the auto industry might jump on board too. So streaming music to your car might not be too far off.

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