Over a year ago, a friend of mine gifted me a one year subscription to Spotify, after I helped him out with a small web app project. So for the next 12 months I almost exclusively used Spotify for all my musical needs.

At first I was skeptical of the idea of music streaming, after all, I do not like paying for things without getting to keep them.

Which is also why I do not have a Netflix account or something similar. If Amayon Prime Video was not included in my prime membership, I would not bother to pay extra for it.

Yet, I found the service to be really good. Spotify's catalouge includes most of the artists I listen to regularly - even those indie musicians that I discovered via YouTube (Looking at you Taylor, Peter and Alex !). It also offered basically all the movie and tv show soundtrack I like to listen to when I am working. (When I was looking for the Apollo 13 soundtrack I even found the live recordings of the chatter between NASA's mission control and the crew during the critical phases of the mission. Something I never expected to be on a streaming service.)

Nevertheless many of Spotify's features did not really work for me:

  • Seeing what kind of music my friends listen to is not really that interesting. Given that they are my friends none of the artists or tracks really surprised me. Plus the fact that my taste in music and my playlists are rather “unique”, there was not anything for me to gain there.
  • Given that I listen to all kinds of music throughout the day, Spotify's suggestion algorithm was a bit clueless as to what I would like to listen to next. So I often ended up with suggestion playlists that included musicals, classic rock, metal, a capella and classical music. All in one playlist and without any particular order.

So when my initial subscription period ended, I felt like I was not getting my money's worth from Spotify and decided not to renew my subscription. The only benefit I was getting out of that deal was the fact that I was able to stream my music whenever and wherever I felt like it. iTunes Match does the same trick for less money (it's currently $25/year versus $9/month for Spotify's premium plan) and Google Music even does it for free.

Instead I decided to - from now on - spent my music budget on buying tracks and albums again. This way I not only get to keep my music forever, but I am also able to better support artists via direct purchases (for example via louder.com).

Additionally, I decided to buy all the tracks that I had discovered and added to Spotify in the last year. As it turns out, buying all those tracks only cost me about $90. So actually buzzing individual tracks and album is actually cheaper for me than paying for an all-you-can-eat streaming service. I guess the same is true for many people out there. I can only encourage everybody to do the math before buying into a streaming service.

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