🇺🇸 The negative parts of Spotify

After Rdio shut down, I needed some new streaming service. Amazon Prime Music does not have a sufficiently large music collection. Google Play Music has no playback possibility on Linux that does not involve the Flash player. Therefore I ended up with Spotify.

It features a native Linux client that runs on Fedora pretty well. All in all, I think their offer is pretty good! There are a few minor things that I would like to see improved, though.

Lack of support

With Rdio, I could just get in touch with a human and tell them about problems that I had. In every case I have got a reply. Sometimes even technical problems got resolved. That is very nice.

Spotify has a user forums on their official site. But it seems to be just a self-organized dumpsite for user critcism and the like. I do not have the impression that Spotify really cares about the feedback they get there.

Therefore I doubt that this page here will make an \(\epsilon\) difference at all to them. But if you should know somebody at Spotify you could perhaps give them a nudge to look over here.

Linux desktop player

I use the Linux Desktop client that is officially published for Ubuntu. As I use Fedora, I cannot use that directly. Luckily somebody has a Copr repository with Spotify for Fedora. That client is okay, I can play music with it and it does not bog down the CPU that much.

Global skip

What I would really like to have is global skip button for the radio. Going back to the client and skipping the track is not that much of a hazzle. Other players support global shortcuts, so I would have liked for this one to have one as well. As it is closed source, there is nothing I can do about that. And due to the lack of interest in user feedback, that is not going to get any priority anyway.

Update

Actually, there is a global skip button if you use KDE (or GNOME, I presume). The Spotify application communicates over D-Bus and it integrates itself as a media player automatically. This way I could just define a global skip shortcut within KDE with a few clicks. It is nice that Spotify uses a de-facto standard here.

I just have not noticed this before because I use Awesome WM which does not do anything which one did not configure by hand. But that is hardly Spotify’s fault.

Mix cuts

I listen to trance a lot. The problem is that there are a lot of mix cut albums there. Those are fine in themselves. They are nice to listen to when you listen to the whole album in order. When those tracks are presented to you on shuffle, one directly start in the middle of some track and it fades to the next. This is really annoying.

Also on the mix cut albums the DJs often say something. This is nice when you listen in-order. But by now I am really annoyed everytime I hear this

This is group therapy

whisper on Above & Beyond “Group Therapy” albums.

As a programmer, I would really like to have a filter for the radio and just say that everything that contains the substring mix cut in the title should be filtered out. But I cannot do that.

Changing your rating

Once you post your rating for a track it is permanent. So if you just click on downvote or upvote by accident, you cannot take that back. You can also only vote for the track that is currently playing. So if you skip a track and realize that you would also dislike it, you will have to wait until it plays again.

Disliked songs play

Another major disadvantage of the radio is that songs that I disliked explicitly show up occasionally. I am not really sure what that is about. On the Spotify forums I read from other community members that the radio is not really individual but rather a community thing. So instead of being tailored to your taste, it will tailor itself to the community and only play the average.

That algorithm sounds like the new filtering algorithm that is in the timeline of Facebook and Twitter. There are inherent problems with that approach. One will filter out irrelevant things but also very relevant entries. You are not left with the best content but just the best average of the content. In the case of the radio it will mean that some tracks that I might like will never be played to me if the track is not very liked on average.

That is not what I want, I want a personally tailored radio that will learn what I like. Rdio had that and Last.fm was really awesome with that.

Radio playback stops

If you listen to a radio station for long enough, the radio will be done. I mean there are no more tracks in the listening queue. And you cannot just start the radio again. On Rdio I never had the problem, it would just continue and eventually playing some tracks again. And I would assume that it would get broader over time and never run out of tracks.

On Spotify I have to start a different radio station every now and when. This is not what I want. Radio should be a “set and forget” thing. When I am “in the zone” while programming, I occasionally just do not notice that the music has stopped. At some point I do notice and it annoys me that I have to intervene to get it back on.

Update

The new Mix Tapes are a really great thing! Spotify looked through my library of songs and found a handful of clusters. I got one mix tape for trance, another for movie scores, another for classical, and so on. Those play endless music (though there are glitches at some times) and really stick to the genre. That’s what I use most of the time now.

Random setting global

The settings for random and repeat are global. This does seem to make much sense to me. I have certain playlists where I want to have random playback at all times. When I listen to an album, especially a mix album, I certainly do not want any random playback. The way it is in the player means that I always have to toggle the random setting.

Web Player

The web player only works with Adobe Flash in Firefox and Chromium. Since there are security warnings about Flash every other day, I do not even have it on my system. Rdio was playing music just fine with HTML5 technologies. I would wish that Spotify could do the same.

Android App

For some reason, the Android app uses 400 MB of memory. There are no songs marked as downloaded, so the footprint should be rather small. This is especially annoying since that memory is allocated on the internal storage (8 GB, mostly full) and not on my SD card (32 GB, mostly empty).

Deleting those files (whatever it is) can only be done by also deleting the account settings. That means I have to type in my password again (it’s very long). Every time I need to clear the files, this has to be repeated. Annoying.

This is partly the fault of Spotify, partly the fault of Android because the adopted storage does not work as promised. The Spotify app should not be able to choose the actual storage, Android should just move the files where there is space.