Music on the internet is a big thing in so many ways, not only have you got the online physical and digital sales but you also have the free online streaming services as well as the massive (estimates suggest even 95% of music download activity) illegal market. So it’s always great when people offer you free music and this is something you can access with a free Spotify invite for their beta.
Currently the Spotify beta will allow you to quickly and easily stream music through a combined use of streaming servers and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. This system will be free, funded by the short adverts in-between songs (although so far I haven’t encountered many). Unfortunately this is only in the beta stage and only those people with invites can use it… but there is a back door so you a Spotify invite is not needed!
The idea behind invites is that companies can trial the beta without excessive amounts of usage, meaning that any changes to not disrupt too many people, and also so that they can be picky over who can look at it (i.e. they will choose people who can help them discover bugs, or can offer publicity). But for all of the sleek professionalism, they have made a critical and worryingly basic error in their invites system.
Basically this allows you to create a profile, something you’re not supposed to be able to do without an invite, which means you can download the programme which runs this service and thus listen to music for free. However when you enter your invitation code you are not send to an encrypted page that can only be accessed if you have a cookie placed there because of a correct code, oh no, you are sent to a run-of-the mill web page, one that can be accessed by anyone.
This means that anyone who visits http://www.spotify.com/uk/get-spotify/overview/ can cut out the invite system and download the beta for this new system. This really is a bit of a mistake by Spotify, especially when you consider how much good music is on it: this is probably going to be quite popular.
But is it really worth it? Is it any better than Last.fm or WE7 who also offer this advert subsidised music streaming option? Obviously there are a few problems with Spotify given that it is a beta, but so far so good.
The interface is very nice, and the fact that it runs as a separate application is nicer than using the internet browser based ones. Its design is very similar to that used by Apple’s iTunes, and a result it is very easy to use and navigate and use — the search facility is also very quick (if a little inaccurate – no advanced search feature as of yet). It is also very quick, I have a shocking 12Mbps wireless connection that although is temperamental still manages to search very rapidly and play the high quality music seamlessly.
The downside at the moment is that there isn’t that big a music selection — this is not surprising considering that it is a beta and they are updating all the time — but some notable artists that have opted out of Spotify include Metallica, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, ACDC and Led Zeppelin which will disappoint many.
So if you want to be ahead of the crowd on this new idea, you know where to go, take a look at Spotify – it really is worth a look as it will probably be big when it finally gets out of beta or if the guys over at Spotify don’t fix this flaw, so that a free Spotify invite is not needed.
UPDATE: Spotify is now going from strength to strength as can be seen some of the related pages at the end of this article, so feel free to read more about Spotify there.
UPDATE 2: Unfortunately, the above invite work-around will no longer work, so you’ll need to try and get an invite off an existing user who still has some remaining. If you’re looking for a cheap way of buying music in the meantime, I’d suggest you take a look at the Amazon UK MP3 Download Store which often has some great cheap prices!
UPDATE 3: Spotify have now released some new feature usage / payment plans which not only gives you different options, but the new basic “Spotify Open” plan allows anyone to sign to use the streaming music service for up to 20hrs per month for free and without the need for an invite – a great way to experience the service until you can get an invite for the full free service or until you decide it’s worthwhile enough to pay for one of the subscription options.
UPDATE 4: Given that 20hrs of music can go by quite quickly and invites are still so scarce, you might also want to take a look at Last.fm which is a Spotify alternative online music service.
But once you’ve got started with Spotify with your free invite I would highly suggest that you take a look at how to share Spotify playlists with ShareMyPlaylists.com!