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I love Spotify, I’ll just make that clear from the start. Spotify has completely changed the way I listen to music.
In fact, while I briefly linger in this positive mood, here are some more reasons why I love Spotify:
As a part-time music journalist, I couldn’t function properly without its unlimited access to 20m songs. Also, new album releases for any given Monday seem to appear not long after midnight on the Sunday before. This is terrific for my Monday morning commute.
I can also use Spotify on as many devices as I like (desktop, laptop, phone, work computer) with up to 3,333 songs able to be synced for offline listening on up to three devices at a time.
Just in case Thom Yorke is reading, I will also add that far as I’m concerned, using Spotify has led to me spending more money on music through other channels (mainly independent record stores), purely because of the access I now have to music that I wouldn’t normally listen to
As a final bonus, in the free version of Spotify, it has jettisoned the limits to how many times you can listen to a song and how many hours a month you can use it. I would however suggest that £10 a month is a small price to pay not to have to put up with some of the most irritating adverts ever hosted on a platform.
And this is where we arrive at the major thrust of this article.
Perhaps because I love Spotify so much and because it’s a major part of my life, it also means that I’m profoundly aware of its limitations and frustrations. Just a few UX tweaks here or there could massively improve the experience.
There’s an argument to say that because Spotify never really had any competition, it didn’t have to worry too much about improving its functionality.
Those days are over. Beats released its possible Spotify rival last month and with it, a much more streamlined design, intuitive interface and properly curated playlists.
Spotify needs to significantly up its game instead of wallowing in complacency.
Here I’ll be taking a look at the downloadable desktop version (Spotify Player), the Web Player that simply opens in a new browser and the mobile app to see where improvements can be made.
Spotify Web Player:
There’s an absolutely baffling array of ‘personalised’ choices on the homepage.
I haven’t listened to Lanterns on the Lake for nearly a year.
There are two suggestions for ‘if you like Metronomy you’ll like…’ and neither artist sound anything like Metronomy.
Also I have hundreds of playlists featuring a huge variety of music genres, why would I want two suggestions for the same band right next door to each other, especially when there’s only room for three suggestions per row.
This is my favourite of all the erroneous recommended listens…
I haven’t listened to a single soundtrack using Spotify let alone a Jerry Goldsmith one. This along with a permanent insistence to recommend Talking Heads to me based on every single band I listen to, irrelevant of their similarity or lack thereof, makes for a baffling ‘curated’ experience.
I’m not sure how useful the ‘your friend has been listening to a lot of… lately’ links are either. The rather judgemental tone is also bizarre, seemingly outing Chris Lake as a Byrds fan as if it’s a problem in need of intervention.
Tiny play buttons
The player, permanently embedded on the top right hand corner is absurdly fiddily.
I also remember it taking me forever to figure out where the volume control was on the Web Player.
It opens when you hover over the player.
This really should be a permanent fixture on the page.
You can’t batch delete songs or albums from playlists. You can only do it one at a time.
You have to right-click on the track and scroll down to ‘delete’ to do this. You can’t just hit delete on your keyboard like you can with the Spotify Player.
Another frustrating thing about the Web Player compared to the downloadable version is you can’t drag and drop tracks into playlists. Again you have to right-click and ‘add’ to playlist.
You also can’t rearrange the order of tracks in a playlist, or delete the entire playlist.
Links on a tab that perform the exact same function really annoy me.
Here the ‘Spotify’ button just takes you back to the ‘Discover’ page, when really the ‘Spotify’ button should act as ‘home’ and return the user back to what they were last searching for or listening to. What’s the point of having two links that do the same thing?
This is an annoying feature that’s not just limited to Spotify. The desktop version of Instagram does this too.
I can’t find much to complain about with the classic, downloadable version of Spotify.
Although I realise that it’s barely changed since I first started using it five years ago. Perhaps it looks a little dated. The clinical font. The off-grey/black background. The general blandness of it.
User experience comes first though, and the above may just be down to my own personal taste.
As a music critic I often have to listen to music that perhaps would provoke derision from some of the more judgemental quarters of my friendship group.
As I have linked my account to Facebook, my friends there will see what I’m listening to in a constant stream of updates. Turning on ‘private session’ means they won’t question “why is this 34 year-old man listening to Ke$ha at 1am on a Tuesday night?”
However, if you’re making a playlist in private mode, this still updates on Facebook. If you’re making a secret playlist as a surprise for a friend or loved one, and you’re adding tracks, each track added will be highlighted as an update on Facebook.
Yes you can unlink your account to retain your clandestine activities, however you would assume that by clicking ‘private session’, all of your activity would be hidden.
“So tired… tired of waiting…”
It takes forever to load up. It crashes if I use it too quickly after start-up. It crashes if I start it up and I have other programmes or even an internet browser running at the same time.
I have an i5 dual core processor and 4MB of RAM. This should not be happening. I have to pre-load-up Spotify, just so it’s ready and waiting in case I need it later.
Speaking of draining resources…
Spotify mobile app
The Spotify mobile app is an absolute battery killer.
Generally speaking, and this is even when I’ve made playlists available offline, I only get a few hours of Spotify pleasure before I have to shut it down and conserve battery life.
I’m using an iPhone 4 with iOS7, so I realise that this is not the best parameters for a test as I would imagine the latest Spotify app is optimised for the latest model of iPhone. But still, I would’ve expected better.
There’s no ‘private session’ mode.
It also flags up on Facebook that you’re listening to a particular artist even when you’re listening ‘offline’.
I really dislike the giant image that takes up the entire screen when you tap through to a playlist.
It’s not terribly clear that you have to scroll down past it to access individual tracks. The small play button in the middle is the only functional are of the image. You may expect to be able to tap-through to one of the albums highlighted in the image, but you can’t.
For more UX nit-picking, check out 13 major UX flaws on social media sites.