Spotify & Turntable.fm: Streaming Music to Forever Please Your Heartparts

If you’re goddamn sick and tired of Coldplay popping up on your Pandora station every few songs (No really, why? Why does that happen?) I have excellent news for you. Web music is easing into a sweet spot right now. At least here in the hapless U.S., we’ve been contending with an old model of music, one dictated by a small collection of record label overlords who insist that CDs remain relevant while keeping music rights in a chokehold — because sharing is obviously evil and the only way we can discover new musicians is by buying CDs at random based on their cover art in the aisles of Best Buy, right?

remember these?

While a direct musician-to-listener relationship could be ideal, and some artists are bold enough to go that route, we’re entering the golden era of streaming. YouTube, Netflix and Hulu are dominating our eyeparts with streaming video and now we’ve got music options to match — ones that blow Limewire out of the proverbial water body.Not only is music streaming these days, it’s getting social — like everything else, for better or worse. You may have mixed feelings about the increasing level of digital interconnected weirdness dominating your life, but you probably are just going to straight up love these two music streaming things that you should be listening to your delicately crafted playlists on.

Spotify

If you live outside the U.S., you may have been using Spotify for months, in which case gloat on, you gloaty diamonds. If you were stateside last month, Spotify took the the Niña, Pinta and the Santa María, over the fucking Atlantic ocean and right to your ears. After negotiating deals with the four major music industry demons, you can now stream basically whatever your tiny, ever-earnest heart could desire.

Spotify is a music streaming service, not unlike Rdio, but not like it either. Rdio is okay if you’re into compromise, but Spotify combines the super-clean, navigable interface of iTunes with an epic catalogue of music that probably meets 95.5% of your sonic needs. Spotify is on-demand, which means you don’t have to endure songs that you’d be uncool if we knew you listened to while you’re waiting for Your Next Jam.

It’s basically a pre-stocked iTunes that takes up essentially no hard drive space and you can tie it into your Facebooks and your Twitters and whatever you budding social media flowers are doing these days (but not Google+, yet. By the way, can we all go back on there? Remember how it’s cool?)

So, like, how much does it cost? Happily, Spotify has a free plan that’s on a waitlist right now unless you can swing an invite from your Europals or savvy state-side friends. If you want to jump the queue, you can invest in a monthly paid plan for $4.99 or $9.99. If you can swing it, the most expensive plan is totally worth it. You get the mobile app too, and it can cache your playlists offline so you can actually listen to stuff even when you aren’t mooching off of your neighbor’s menacingly-named wi-fi network.

Turntable.fm

Turntable.fm is a totally different animal, but it’s a really cool one and you’re gonna like it. Hell or highwater, you are. Don’t make me come over there.

It’s a really fun way to casually interact with friends (or lovers, penpals, strangers, weirdos, enemies, frenemies who when you’re down ain’t your friend) without needing to actually trade words back and forth, because lets be honest, sometimes sentences are hard. It’s also a great suggestion engine, since you can skip around, hear something you like, and whisk it to your social network of choice to remember it, or to Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, or Last.fm.

So once you request an invite and get all signed up, you’ll be gifted with a little avatar (lord only knows I have strong feelings about avatars). Then you can start DJing your tunes and be up-voted by your supernice friends and change your li’l DJ’s outfit and accessories, which essentially makes it like World of Warcraft, but without the elves and with more dubstep.

You take turns curating your miniature DJ world, like you’re at a big house party where everyone is switching the iPod connected to the speakers, except it’s much less domineering and there’s no ironically light beer spilled on your second-to-favorite pair of jeans. (I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I like taking turns.) You can queue up your songs and overthink your personal music selections all you want, and then watch your little avatars bop along to your mad beatz together.

It’s like if Pandora was sentient, and populated by a small army of tiny digital cats and gorillas with discerning music tastes. Also, look, we can have an Autostraddle Turntable.fm room, isn’t that neat? Fucking pump those jams, please.

Spotify is more of an all-purpose sonic Swiss Army Knife. For me, it’s completely replaced the weird blend of Last.fm, Pandora, Rdio and iTunes that I had going. And if you’ve got a ton of jams downloaded (legally, right?) already, Spotify vaccums those right up and let’s you listen to them too.

Turntable.fm is more of a bonafide social network — it’s a great place to roleplay the cat-eared, alt-capitalized diGiTaL DJ coiled deep within your sonic soul — but using both services in tandem will be sweet, endless streaming music to your mixtape-making, earnest little heartparts.

[image credit: emilyonasunday]

Taylor has written 136 articles for us.

47 Comments

  1. Love the playlist, hope it’s public.

    My roommates and I have done nothing but RAVE about Spotify.
    It would absolutely be worth 5 dollars a month.
    Yes, it could replace iTunes, but would ~human kind~ lose the right to private .mp3s?
    CONSPIRACY!!

    However, love Spotify. Now I can have the same playlist on every level of my house! PLAYING AT ONCE.
    via “streaming”

    YEHAW

  2. I am constantly surprised by the huge range of music on spotify. I live in the uk so I’ve had an account for maybe 2 years now and I can’t imagine a world without it.

    Only problems with the free version is that
    1) You have to listen to annoying adverts every few songs
    2) You can only listen to a certain number of hours per month
    3) You can only listen to songs 5 times (!)

    Oh and in terms of artists the revenue from it is next to nothing. Which I guess is still slightly better than nothing.

  3. Here is the thing. I use both. I use turntablel.fm to idle in during work. When i hear a song I like. I spotify it, so It links to the application and I can listen to more things by the same artist. Spotify also has scrobbling ability to last.fm which is a neat feature if you use it for like charts and shit.

    I agree that the ads on spotify are annoying especially because you do not know that they are ads at first they sound like music and then you realize they are not.

    • yeah, connecting the two is an amazing experience. i <3 it!

      and those spotify ads are damned sneaky. when i was using it before it came to the US they had the worst voices ever and always tricked you at first

  4. About the ads on free Spotify:

    I live in the Netherlands, and use the Dutch Spotify, so no idea if this applies to the American one as well, but my friends and I foster the theory that the ads has voices that are as annoying as possible to make sure as much people as possible convert to the paying version. (The concept of Spotify is too good to abandon the service altogether over annoyance with that husky sorority girl who tells me to ‘upgrate to Spoddifai’.)

    I have been using the unlimited Spotify (€5/month) for some time now, and I love it. It’s a bargain, really. Rests my only complaint: There’s no ACDC and no De La Soul on there. (Thunderstruck is the no. 1 song in my ‘Get yo ass off the couch and do stuff’- playlist)

    And yes. Portishead is on my ‘get laid’-playlist too.

  5. Spot on, Taylor!

    Pandora was cool, it gave us a new definition of “radio” and made everybody think a little differently about streaming music and music discovery. And Spotify and Turntable.FM are the evolution of that thought.

    So glad these times they are a changin’ 🙂

  6. I didn’t realize Spotify became available in the U.S. until now (clearly I am very aware of what’s going on), but for the past few years I’ve been using Grooveshark, which is also pretty awesome. I don’t think there are any audio ads, which is a major plus.

      • i don’t like the grooveshark user interface (it’s pretty rough around the edges), but I used grooveshark too until fairly recently, it’s just much less polished and has a smaller catalogue seemingly

        • the small catalogue is defff kind of a problem sometimes, but in all truthfulness, i really only use it when deciding whether or not i should buy certain albums by kanye west/eminem/various popular musicians.

          BUT, mp3fiesta.com is probably one of the greatest things i’ve ever come across in the music world. not streaming, but you can buy music legally for really dirt cheap. you can pay $50 for a year of unlimited downloads.
          it’s got a great selection, as far as I can tell. like, it even has all the really obscure minimalist compositions that I’m really into.

    • I also use Grooveshark. But that just might be my hometown Gainesville, Fl loyalty talking. Those kids come in my restaurant everyday and give me free koozies. I’m totally bought! hahah.

  7. Sometimes ,when I’ve got a few extra bucks, I discover new (or old) musicians by buying CDs at random based on their cover art in the aisles of the used section at Amoeba. I feel like I’m the only one that still loves buying CDs sometimes.

    But now I want to give Spotify a go just so I can title something “get laid, pretentiously” hope you don’t mind me stealing that. I suck at coming up with shit to name my playlists.

    Turntable confuses me. It’s only by invite? Or facebook? If you’ve got neither, does that mean you can’t use that mofo?

  8. I’ve had Spotify since right after it became available in the US, I definitely enjoy it, though I wish it had more content. Even Pandora had more of the strange bands I like on it, though with admittedly really shitty content between songs I actually liked.

  9. wish turntable.fm was still available to canadians. then again if it was i’d probably get even more addicted to it and start spending entire days there. oh well at least i’ve still got 8tracks. 8tracks is so good you guys. no ads & being able to skip songs (not very often but hey what do you expect from a free online radio service) = <3

    • You can do this this. It works perfectly.

      I used OpenVPN instead of WiTopia because I didn’t want to pay for it. Downside is that you’re only allowed 100Mb/day…but I’m sure if you google you can find something completely free.

      Hope it helps! = ]

  10. I wish there was an easier way to find people on Spotify. I have a bunch of friends using it, but only a few are making public playlists. But if you want to check out my playlists, search for me using this query:

    spotify:user:hermionedanger

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