I’ve had a chance to try Spotify for a week. For the narrow customer segment that I represent, it is probably not the right music subscription service. I am not a music nerd. I don’t really care whether a service has some obscure Dinosaur Jr. live performance from an old radio show. For me the most important features are music discovery and passive radio listening. The qualities that make Spotify popular have little appeal to me. Instant playback? I can wait a half second. Larger music catalog? I don’t listen to anything too obscure, nor do I care if a particular track is missing. Higher-quality audio? I’m fine with even 96kbps on my crappy computer speakers or headphones. Desktop app? It’s really for their benefit, not mine. At a recent talk their architect said peer-to-peer sharing handles 20-50% of the music delivery for them (depending on the market).
I actually like last.fm, but I do wish I could pick and choose tracks occasionally. I also would like offline access on both my laptop and iPods. Pandora is nice, but seems to cycle through the same songs and artists a bit too often. I’m going to try Rdio and Mog soon. Now I just need to pipe all this music through my stereo somehow.