I’ve been trying out Spotify Premium the last couple of days since it came out in the U.S. I have to decide between it and Slacker Radio which I’ve been having a lot of fun with lately. First Spotify appears to have more tracks in it’s collection 15 million compared to 8 million for Slacker. They both appear to have licenses with most major record companies, Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music Group, plus numerous independents. There are clear differences between th two services outside of numbers, which one you choose will depend on what you are looking for.
The first difference I noticed was how you set up playlist. With Slacker Radio, you pick an artist you like and it will give you a list of similar artist, you can then uncheck the ones you don’t want to hear. However you don’t get to choose specific songs. Slacker radio also has genre specific stations, top stations and highlighted stations. The genre specific station are somewhat limited though. With Spotify you have to create the playlist yourself by picking and choosing the artist and songs you want to have in the playlist. When you pick an artist there is a tab where you can see and browse similar artist and then add their songs to the playlist. Spotify doesn’t create any stations for you. I have to admit that the lazy part of me likes Slacker Radio, but the controlling part of me prefers Spotify in this area.
Exploration and Sharing
Slacker Radio also has a leg up when it comes to exploration. Slacker Radio automatically creates a playlist of similar artist from you what you start with. This is a great way to find new artist that you might like. With Spotify you have to choose each artist individually, it is easy to get stuck in the rut of choosing the artist you already know, instead of ones you don’t. The one area that Spotify does help with exploration is if you connect it to Facebook. When you connect it with Facebook you then see the playlist of your friends on Facebook that are also using Spotify. You can only play those songs that are available through Spotify. The more friends you have that are on Facebook and Spotify the better this is for exploration. Both services allow you to share easily with the popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
As far cost is concern both Spotify and Slacker Radio have a free version that includes ads. Spotify’s free version limits you to 20 hours of streaming per month as far as I can tell there is no such limitation on Slacker radio. Both have two paying subscriptions. On Slacker Radio you can pay $3.99 a month and get no more ads and unlimited song skips. You can also cache songs to play when you are offline. You can also view full lyrics instead just partial. Spotify’s first paying tier is called Unlimited and is $4.99. With this tier you get unlimited streaming and no ads. The top-tier on Slacker Radio is called Premium and it is $9.99 a month. It includes everything available under Radio Plus in addition you get the ability to play songs and artist on demand and create custom playlist. I am currently paying for Plus Radio on Slacker so I am not sure how well the premium version works. Spotify Premium is also $9.99 a month this adds offline mode for playlist. You can also play Spotify on your mobile device if you paying for the Premium version. You can take advantage of Slacker Radio on your portable device even if you are using the free version.
One of the biggest advantages Spotify has over Slacker Radio is it let’s you include your personal music library, so you can create playlist from both your own library and what is available through the Spotify catalog. You can not add your own library to Slacker Radio. Also Spotify does have a desktop application, Slacker Radio is web base and is available in the US only. Spotify is available in mutiple countries. I like the way Slacker Radio looks and is set up better then Spotify. It is just easier to see where things are with Slacker Radio. For example on Slacker radio if I want to buy a song or album the button is right there and easy to see, on Spotify it is hard to see.
The bottom line is if you have lots of friends who use Spotify along with Facebook and like to share music with them. Plus you want to have access to your personal library then Spotify is for you. However if you are more into exploration I would go with Slacker Radio. Right now I am leaning toward Slacker Radio. How about you, what music service do you prefer and why?