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guilty-pledgers-app.jpgThis week Spotify has unveiled the Guilty Pledgers app, a service that allows music fans to donate money to their favourite charity in exchange for adding their guilty pleasure tune to a party playlist.

The idea behind the app (that works from within Spotify's desktop app) is that Spotify users will sign up to throw a Guilty Pledgers house party that syncs up with their Facebook account. The guests they invite can then add songs to the party playlist, donating to a charity through Just Giving each time they do.

Andy Whitlock, Guilty Pledgers co-founder, said: "We wanted to make fundraising as feel-good as possible. And what could feel better than partying to your absolute favourite tunes without your friends being able to judge you?"


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So Spotify today celebrates its fifth birthday. Well done to a start up whose obituary has been written many, many times. The platform hasn't just survived this far though, it is starting to thrive. According to this report in The Guardian it has 24 million active users, 6m paying subscribers, and 1bn playlists created by those people.

In the future it will have many more rivals and ones with deep pockets (think Google and Apple) but for now it has become the byword for online music streaming.

From a personal perspective although I have a few reservations about the service I think it is quite possibly the best thing to happen to online music ever. Well from a user's perspective. If you are a musician, and your name is not Bowie, you probably see Spotify in a different way. Not suprisingly, for a service that is part-owned by several major labels, it tends to feed the big artists and just throws tiny crumbs to the smaller ones.

Yet while there are lots of great artists who now struggle to make a living from music, I don't think this is entirely Spotify's fault. Even before it launched, piracy and the changing nature of music distribution had chipped away significantly at the revenues of lesser known and cult musicians. Spotify certainly isn't the solution for funding new music and I can understand why some musicians are very anti the service.

I also think that it needs to innovate again. Focussing on the bottom line has given its stability but there are many ways in which it can improve.

Nevertheless for the user it is a truly wonderful thing - here's why...

1 It is cheap - Come on, just a fiver to stream all that music. You can't even get a pair Starbucks Lattes for that. From a punter's perspective Spotify is exceptional value for money. Remember the £50 man? Chances are he is now a £10 man with a premium Spotify subscription.

2 It has access to all those wonderful archives - Sure there might be a few high profile omissions, but many of the greatest recordings ever made are available for very little on Spotify. And it gives music lovers access to albums that they might never have had heard before. If the bands you love are influenced by say Captain Beefheart, Nick Drake and Sun Ra you no longer have to spend a fortune finding out what the originals sound like.

3 It tries to preserve the concept of the album - IMO the album was the ultimate artistic statement of the late 20th century and a bit off this century too. Spotify at least tries to offer music as the musicians intended the listener to hear it. As long as you keep away from that random button.

4 It has helped the music industry tackle piracy - Only in a small way, but there is evidence to suggest that Spotify has helped reduce the amount of piracy in some countries

And if you want to plug Spotify into your home hi-fi go here

googleplay.jpgThe big news this morning is that Google Music, which was announced in the spring and has been working in the US for several months now, has become available in the UK and other European countries.

You can sign up now and get a month for free and then pay an intro rate of £7.99 per month. It will eventually cost £9.99.

But what is it and how does it stack up against the current king of online music Spotify?

The similarities

In many ways the services have a lot in common, They both allow you to stream whole albums and the catalogue of tracks they boast is very similar. There's no Beatles or Led Zeppelin on either of them, but then you guessed that already. They both have deals with companies to deliver new albums though Spotify has the edge on indie and European music for now.

The music discovering offerings are also similar too with Google Music including offering up recommendations on what to listen to next based on your listening habits.
Listeners can also turn any song into a "radio station", with the service intelligently creating an endless playlist of songs based around the artist and track you've selected, with each song complementing your original choice.

Both services stream music at a maximum of 320kbps.

But there are some key differences

Price - Spotify has a lot more flexibility here. For starters it has a free ad supported version - Google starts at £7.99 a month. Spotify's PC only version is cheaper too at £5.99 per month. For the full versions both will come in at £9.99 a month (though Google has an introductory offer of £7.99) which will let you listen to and store songs on mobile. Google scores here as you can store up to 20,000 tracks, a lot more than the 3,333 offered by Spotify.

Platforms - Google can be played from a browser on a PC or Mac, and on an Android based smartphone. If you have an iPhone you can access the service via the browser. Spotify has a browser service for PCs, an app for PCs as well as apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Music integration - Google has an edge on Spotify in that the new service integrates with its cloud based storage system. So you can upload all your music to the cloud and it will be accessible on any PC using Google Music. This is very useful for people who like music in genres which aren't well represented on either of the streaming services (obscure 60s stuff, jazz, easy listening, exotica etc). It also means that it is easy to create playlists that contain both yours and Google Music which are then available anywhere. For some users this is a serious advantage over Spotify.

Overall - Which one you choose I think depends on a number of factors. If you are a casual music streamer then Spotify's free service will probably suffice for you. If you are an Apple diehard too Spotify has the edge. Where Google Music scores is the integration of your own music with the streaming catalogue. that is a small, but significant niche. It will be interesting to see if and when Spotify addresses this.

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spotify-ipad-official.jpgDon't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the music streaming service Spotify. The way in which it makes almost every great album, both past and present, accessible with one click, is a wonderful thing.

However there are still a few things which I think Spotify needs to address. Here are five quick ideas.

1 Charts - What would be amazing is if Spotify were to allow users to create their own charts. There must be a way of taking the data they collect and then enabling the listener to conjure up all kinds of fancy charts from 'most played tracks of the week' to the 'top ten album of the month.' It would be great to have weekly charts about my most listened to tracks which I'd prodigiously share on Facebook etc.

2 Less confusion about following bands - I want to get alerts that tell me when bands I love have added new music to Spotify. I do get alerts from Spotify but I have no idea why I am getting them. It used to be that if you followed a band then you got the updates. Now though you also apparently get updates of new music from bands who you have featured on your playlists. Except that I don't. I have so many bands in my playlist that if that were the case I'd be getting emails from Spotify all the time. Spotify needs to sort out the process and make it easy for you to keep tabs on who you are following.

3 Album sleeve notes and comments
- I know that there are notes for many artists taken often from Allmusic and other sources. Well why not grab album reviews too. In fact maybe take 500 great albums and get some serious, specially created sleeve notes for them. It wouldn't cost that much but it would certainly be an interesting new feature for Spotify to shout about. Alternatively it could add a reviews section and take reviews from some of its media partners etc, as well as giving users the opportunity to add their own comments.

4 Work harder to correct mistakes
- Today I got an email informing me of the new Cat's Eyes album, which was great news as I love the band's previous collection. Instead of a new collection of songs from the side project of the fella in The Horrors, I got some weird ambient nonsense from a French DJ. Spotify is riddled with errors like this. I do think that the company could crowdsource information from its users to correct sites. If there was an easy way of doing this, I am sure its users would oblige.

5 Request an album - In the same way that Amazon enables you to suggest to publishers that they publish books in the Kindle format, so there could be way of Spotify users asking for albums to be added to the service. Especially more obscure, low key or older albums.

If you were to tell me I had to lose every single website and app but could keep one (on my desert island apps interview) I would keep Spotify. I adore the music service and have been a subscriber since it first made its apps available.

The way in which I can listen to music as the artist intended, as a whole album played in the right order, as well as being able to access that huge back catalogue makes Spotify for me the most important innovation since the web itself.

However increasingly the service is coming under attack from musicians - the latest to stick the boot in are Thom Yorke and music producer Nigel Godrich, who claim that the service is failing new music.

Nigel Godrich's argument is detailed in a series of tweets here, but to paraphrase, he believes that Spotify is great for listening to back catalogues, but fails new bands as they don't make enough money from its royalties pay outs. The industry average offers 0.4p per stream - meaning that 1m streams of a song generate about £3,800. Most songs receive far fewer streams, which in fairness won't even keep some bands in plectrums for long.

Godrich finishes his rant by throwing down the gauntlet. He says that either Spotify needs to change its approach to new music, or that musicians should vote with their feet and follow Thom Yorke's example and takes their tunes off the service.

To be fair to Godrich he doesn't come across as being too anti-Spotify, but he is addressing the fact that there is a very real issue with how the service works. He has been retweeting some interesting pro-Spotify replies too.

Some of the other tweets and posts this morning though have been a lot more critical of the service.

I am not too convinced though that the Spotify bashing is really that helpful - here's why.

1 Spotify is the best things that has ever happened to music online - Almost every significant album in history available for users to stream at any time. Come on, ten years ago that was the stuff of dreams. How many new bands have created music that is influenced by older bands - and the first place they got to hear the Gang of Four, Soft Boys and Cleaners From Venus etc was on Spotify.

Also some snooty musicians have been moaning about how Spotify has opened up the floodgates to all kinds of hapless amateurs. This is utterly wrong IMO. I have heard many more great new bands in the last three years than I did in the ten that proceeded them. There has been an explosion of new music and that has been fuelled by Spotify.

2 Spotify has got to get its business model right - The problem here is that Spotify could charge £20 a month for its services and give a big chunk of that to the musicians who provide new releases. But is anyone going to pay it? Personally I wouldn't have any issues with that. There is however a much more deep rooted problem. It revolves around the under of music in our society now. One musician friend of mine recently tweeted that people seem happier to spend five quid on a big bag of popcorn at the cinema than they do on an album.

At the other end of the scale there are those who are using Spotify's free service yet forking out the best part of £20 for new album releases on vinyl. Spotify has got to get its business plan right. It has many real and potential rivals and quite a few of them come from companies that are way more aggressive like Google, Amazon and Apple. I know which of the four companies which one I'd rather give money too.

3 How can it change that business model? Godrich makes many good points, but he doesn't offer any real suggestions as to what Spotify should do. Here's a few ideas.

* Charge people an extra £5 a month to hear albums and tracks that have been released in the last five months.

* Introduce an optional levy on subscriptions where people can pay extra to support new artists

Err that's it. Unless anyone else has any better ideas.

Spotify won't push number one because - well people won't pay more for streamed online music and it creates an opportunity for a rival to offer that serve more cheaply.
Spotify could do two, but ultimately it wouldn't do musicians any favours as it makes them look like charity cases.

If musicians take their music off Spotify then ultimately it will wither away.

4 Musicians never made that much money from royalties anyhow - Let's be serious about this, did radio plays of anything other Walking On Sunshine and Unbelievable generate enough money to pay anyone's mortgages? Thought not. Here's a view on this from the legend that is @solobasssteve . Musicians have traditionally made their money in other ways. At the very least Spotify does give bands profile, and that profile could lead to much greater things.

5 New musicians need to use Spotify strategically
- Rather than place their whole album on there why not stick a few tracks on Spotify. Put the rest on Bandcamp, where incidentally people can still stream for nothing, or make the music available just as downloads. If people get hooked enough on your music then maybe just maybe they might pay for it.

6 Spotify needs to reach out to musicians more - How about some dialogue? Get some musicians on a board with maybe one of their representatives as part of the management team. It would be good PR for the company and might even help to resolve some of the issues musicians have with the service.

So finally can we please stop bashing Spotify. The big challenge for musicians, and indeed anyone who loves music, is to create a culture in which it is valued and that people are prepared to pay for it. Any ideas on how you achieve that are much appreciated.

Btw here's a load of great new music - if you like a bit of psych/shoegaze/dreampop

psonar.jpgSo no one yet seems to have properly solved the streaming music riddle. Apple's iTunes Radio seems like little more than a clever idea to get users buying more downloads. While Spotify can't quite seem to make its mind up as to whether it should be subscription only or an ad-supported free streaming service.

And for the musicians themselves, especially the smaller indie type ones, the payments from Spotify are so miniscule that they are generally better off using services like Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

And at the same time record companies seem to be turning a blind eye to users who upload whole albums to YouTube.

There is however one British based music streaming service that has come up with a solution of sorts and that is Psonar.

Psonar is a cloud based streaming service which in many ways is quite similar to Spotify. It does however have a unique (for now) payment mechanism with users paying 1p for every track they listen to. This of course puts the listener in control of their budget. You would have to listen to at least fifty albums a month before you even got near Spotify's base level sub rate of £5.

There are some nice touches too in that the company gives you free credits and users can also gift music to others too.

The service is available via a web app that works on just about every platform going too.

It appears that Psonar could be good news too for smaller artists. The company has this on its blog

For artists and labels, Psonar Pay-Per-Play has a single, straightforward tariff that's the same for all distributors or labels, as well as clear and transparent accounting where every stream is monetized apart from promotional activity. Psonar offers labels the tools to build highly social, viral promotion campaigns that don't involve unlimited free access to music and which can be fine-tuned to generate revenue or promote viral spread (or both) as the label judges best. Since all monetization is per track streamed, everyone with an economic interest in the music earns their share of the revenue generated.

The problem that Psonar has for now is that has only 600,000 tracks on its books. It maybe more as this was a figure from last year. Compare that with Spotify which has in the region of 20 million. So it is a chicken and egg situation. The site needs to scale quickly to make it successful.

Its other problem is that Spotify could ape its business model by offering pay per play on its service.

Nevertheless I have been pretty impressed with Psonar and think that the pay per play business model is an ideas whose time may have come.

What do you think?

itunesradio.jpgYesterday, among a slew of announcements, Apple took the wraps off its long promised streaming music service Apple iTunes Radio. Those hoping for a rival to Spotify are going to be disappointed. Apple has a very successful music download business and the last thing it wants is to jettison that in favour of music streaming.

So it has done something rather clever. For all intents and purposes iTunes Radio is a sneaky way of encouraging users to swell its coffers by downloading even more tunes and it uses the guise of music streaming to do it.

It works this way. The iTunes software analyses the music you play and download and then comes up with a station based on those tunes alongside music from similar artists that it thinks you might like. It is quite customisable too, so you can set it to just play stuff you know, or instead focus on discovering new music. You can personalise it more too by pressing the incorporated Play More Like This or Never Play This Song tabs.There are also some existing radio stations thrown in and the service is free and supported by ads. There's even a station dedicated to music currently trending on Twitter.

As most of US readers will know the service isn't that dis-similar from Pandora, a service that has never made it to the UK..

In fact there's no guarantees yet that iTunes Radio will ever land in the UK. The company would have to negotiate rights with UK record companies and if it doesn't fly in the US when it launches in the autumn it might not think it is worth its while.

Working on the assumption that we will see it in 2014 will you be using it?

Here's a few scenarios.

1 I am a Spotify subscriber
- If this is you chances are you haven't been anywhere near iTunes for two years anyway. You probably rarely download music and you won't even look at a streaming service that doesn't enable you to chose exactly what you want to play. iTunes Radio has nothing for you.

2 I am a casual Spotify user - If you use Spotify but only the free ad supported service then there may be more in iTunes Radio for you. I am guessing that most casual Spotify users are still probably using iTunes for downlands, many maybe to play music files. Spotify does boast radio stations - which are similar to the ones that iTunes Radio will offer - but they are in no way as sophisticated or intelligent as Apple's new service. Spotify's ace card is that you can choose which songs you want and when - and even though there are restrictions it is still free.

3 I mainly download music via iTunes - Well in many ways the new service is perfect for you. Just expece to be paying out more by downloading all those exciting new tracks that you discover.

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Great news for Spotify users in the UK. Its long promised web based service has now gone live. So, on the odd occasion you find yourself using some else's PC or if you don't want to download the client based version, you can still listen to you favourite tunes via your web browser.

So how does it work?

Well you simply to go to the website, log in and away you go. As long as you have a recent-ish version of Flash an analog of the desk based client pops up. It is fairly similar to the client. The big cosmetic difference is that the mini player (the bit which shows which track is playing) is on the upper right rather than the bottom left. Other than that the two versions are pretty close.

You don't however get to access your apps - maybe they will follow when the site moves out of beta later in the year.

Also if you are using someone else's PC you also don't get access to any tracks that you may have stored on your home PC's hard drive.

Spotify isn't the first streaming service to offer a web -based option. Deezer and others have also used the web browser to access music.

The web streaming market is set to explode this year, The other day we ran a story about how Apple are mulling over an streaming version of iTunes possibly in partnership with Beats.

Microsoft, Nokia and others are also developing services in this space.

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This story has been bubbling under for ages but now it appears it might just be about to happen. According to Reuters today Apple is in talks with Beats about the possibility of launching a streamed music service that would be available across all Apple devices - that ranks as a rival to Spotify.

Apparently Apple CEO Tim Cook and Beats CEO Jimmy Lovine have been chatting about Project Daisy which is the codename for Beats' music streaming service which was announced in January.

The movement to a streaming music service on Apple devices seems like an obvious one. By not offering a rival Apple has enabled Spotify to create a popular and competitive music service in Europe and the US.

The reason the company may have for moving slowly is that it has to weigh up how much impact the service would have on its iTunes downloads. Would the revenue from subscription services (assuming that you would pay £5-10 a month to access the service on your iDevice offline) compensate for the cash lots as people stream music rather than download it?

Reuters is coy about the leak saying that it came three people 'familiar with the situation.'

So would the streaming service be successful?

Unless it had something significant to differentiate it from Spotify I think it unlikely that anyone apart from hardcore Apple devotees would defect from the existing service to the new one.

Spotify though at the moment has over five million subscribers - which is a very small percentage of people who listen to digital music. Apple could massively expand the reach of streamed music services.

It also needs some high profile stories to accompany the launch of the Apple iPhone 5S which will probably be in the summer. If the new phone doesn't come with significant software upgrades then it might start to looks like a poorer relation to handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S IV and the Sony Xperia Z.

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Last night team Shiny Shiny went along to an exclusive Spotify event here in London to learn about what the popular music streaming service has planned after its most successful year ever with a whole load of new customers and countries under its belt.

We watched a livestreamed keynote speech from Spotify's CEO and all round nice guy Daniel Ek, in which the Swede introduced a number of new updates that will be coming to the platform over the next few months.

The most exciting one comes in the form of a new "Discover" tab in the desktop version of Spotify, which will suggest new tracks based on all kinds of information about the user. You'll even be able to see the context at the side, explaining why certain artists and albums have been served up to you. Ek showed us some examples of tracks that were brought up for him to remind him of his youth or other artists that have similar influences to his favourites.

There will also be new Twitter-style follow features, which will allow Spotify users to keep tabs on artists, friends and celebrities whose music or taste in music they like. If those people then upload a new track or make a new playlist you'll receive an automatic update straight to your phone.

We're excited about seeing the updates "in the wild" and will write up a full review once we've had a play around with them all.

However, the night wasn't just about the raft of new features that'll be introduced to Spotify, but a new band too. In a surprise that had everyone giggling and gasping, Ek revealed that heavy metal superstars Metallica will be releasing their entire back catalogue through the Swedish music platform. ROCK ON! Or something much cooler...

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The long-awaited Spotify application for the iPad has been released today, but don't just expect a big version of the current mobile app, this latest offering really plays to the tablet's strengths.

Up until now Spotify lovers with an iPad have been able to play their favourite tracks, but only from the music streaming service's mobile app, which looks tiny in comparison to the tablet's screen and doesn't make the most of its functionality. Well today, after waiting for what feels like eons for it to arrive, the Spotify iPad app is finally here.

The new Spotify app isn't just a bigger version of the mobile version, but it has a slide-out navigation panel, a trending playlists section (based on both location and friends) and full, individually-tweaked support for both landscape and portrait orientations.

The search functionality has been updated too, with band biography information and pictures offered up alongside tracks, while all album art work and interface features make full use of the new iPad's Retina Display.

Available from iTunes for free.

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Spotify is set to roll out a big new makeover to its Android offering complete with easier navigation, high-res album artwork and a range of cool new features.

If you're a Spotify-loving Android user you've probably always feel like you've had a bit of a raw deal when it comes to the mobile application of the uber-popular streaming service. While iPhone owners get a slick, clean interface, the Android version of Spotify has always been a bit of a... well... mess.

Until now that is, as it looks like CEO Daniel Ek and his gang have finally recognised this, as Tech Digest has just been sent a preview build of a forthcoming Android makeover for the app, which now looks and feels much much better.

Fully supporting Android 4.0, the app has been redesigned from the ground up to make use of Android at its best. It now features a left-hand slide-out panel for navigating social sections and browsing pals' playlists, checking out new releases, your inbox and app settings.

Album artwork now comes in high-resolution, while the related artist tab appears for the first time in mobiles too.

There are also a host of other little improvements, such as locally downloaded playlists appearing at the top of your playlist pile instead of dotted among you many created song collections, meaning you'll easily be able to avoid tapping into your 3G allowance.

And there's still more to come; Spotify will be adding folder support and Last FM scrobbling before the app goes live in Google Play in the near future.

[Via Tech Digest]

spotify-goyte.jpgToday Spotify has launched its new Play Button, which allows users to listen to content all over the web and embed tracks and playlists easier to blogs and social networks.

The new Spotify Play Button is a music widget that will allow users to share and discover music even more easily across blogging platforms, websites and social networks.

Gustav Söderström, chief product officer at Spotify, said:

"Today we're giving every blogger and web editor the ability to light up the internet with music.

"Adding a personalised soundtrack to your website or blog has never been this easy.

"You want to give your fans access to any song, album or playlist of your choosing and in its entirety, while ensuring people stay glued to your site. The Spotify Play Button does all of this for free, while making sure artists get paid for every play."

Those who use Tumblr get enhanced Spotify Play Button functionality, with the widget integrated into the dashboard, letting you search for the song you want to include directly from Tumblr and embed it instantly.

Those who aren't Tumblr users can also easily add the Spotify Play Button to their websites. Simply grab the URL for the track, album or playlist you're looking to share, and head over to the Spotify developer website to get the embed link.

[Via Tech Digest]

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Today popular music service Spotify made a quick announcement on its blog to launch a new Spotify Community area of its main site, called community.spotify.com/.

The Spotify Community is a huge forum giving users a place to talk about everything from issues logging into the streaming service to general chit-chat about music:

"You can use our Community portal to ask for support, help other users like you, provide us with feedback, share new ideas, playlists and musical opinions. This forum is yours!"

Some users have already commented on the blog post, pointing out that it's strange for the company to launch a brand new community when its GetSatisfaction forum already provides users with plenty of answers to their questions. However, this new step seems much more focused on getting users to engage with one another just as much as engaging with the Spotify brand.

spotify-apps.jpgThis evening Daniel Ek, the founder and CEO of Spotify, revealed the brand's next evolution, App Finder, set to bring a wealth of apps to the popular music streaming platform.

According to Ek some of the "best and the brightest" contenders of the music and app industries are keen to become part of the service, with the likes of Last.fm, Rolling Stone, Songkick, Fuse and The Guardian all readying different app offerings for the platform.

All of these apps will be able to integrate with Spotify's current catalogue of 16 million tracks and the very good news is they'll be available to both free and premium users.

There are a few different ways the apps can work and the Spotify blog gives users some interesting examples:

"Let's say you're listening to a new track and you'd like to know the lyrics. Just click over to the TuneWiki app and see all the words of the song perfectly synced as you're listening.

"Maybe you want to see a gig this weekend? Check out the Songkick app to find out if any of the artists in your library are performing near you. Then get your hands on tickets with a few clicks."

The App Finder will become part of Spotify's desktop application in the left-hand toolbar, with various pop-up elements appearing on top of the usual Spotify experience.

According to recent reports the App Finder will go live next week and will be part of an automatic update for existing users.

Related: Spotify launches musical advent calendar with Pixie Lott, Primal Scream & Westlife


spotify-christmas-playlist.jpgYou get to a certain age and advent calendars just don't seem as magical anymore, especially if you get home after a bad day at the office and stuff ten of the little chocolates into your mouth (we've never done that before, honest). Well this year Spotify aims to give us back a bit of that festive fun that we've all lost somewhere over the years with the help of some of the world's top artists.

The popular music streaming service teamed up with Leona Lewis, Jason Derulo, Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, Ryan Adams, Westlife, Pixie Lott and Primal Scream and asked them to submit a personal selection of 24 songs for the run up to Christmas. All of the selections have been added to a kind of musical advent calendar, which will soon exist as a shiny Facebook app called Festive Playlist.

Each day throughout December users can visit Spotify's Festive Playlist to reveal an artist's selection for that particular day. Now don't worry, it isn't all cheesy carols and self promotion, there are a few unexpected choices thrown in along the way that might raise an eyebrow or two.

Nikki Lambert, the European marketing director at Spotify, said:

"The advent calendar ritual of opening a new door each day to discover a new treat, is one of the most fun things about the run up to Christmas. And what could be better to be revealed each day than a favourite track from your favourite artist? We have worked with some of the biggest stars in the world to make this the only Advent Calendar you'll need this year!"

The Facebook app will be going live tomorrow (awh just like a real advent calendar) on the Spotify Facebook page or at facebook.com/spotifyfestive.


Our supercheesetastic motivational Spotify playlist

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spotify-playlist.jpgWe love Spotify here at Shiny HQ and spend far too much time putting together playlists to match our mood. Luckily it can sneakily be filed under research! There is an upbeat one, an indie one and an angry one...

Yet again the conversation moved on to music today and more precise motivational songs. We got onto this topic as we've just finished reading this new book called Stop Thinking Start Doing which is all about... well stop putting things off and following your dreams. If you want to do something but secretly fear you're never going to do it, whatever that might be, then this book might help you (it's only in paperback now but will be available on the Kindle very soon!)

So we set the Shiny team to the task of collating a motivational Spotify playlist for those times when you need a bit of uplifting music, whether it is a 20 mile jog in the freezing cold, keeping your blog up to date or just doing whatever it is you've been putting off for weeks.

Check out ShinyShiny's cheesetastic motivational Spotify playlist here.

Now the list is nowhere near complete so have a listen and let us know what is missing. And yes we are well aware that there are some cringe-worthy choices in there... Motivational music might make you cringe at times, but there is nothing like a bit of Bon Jovi or Survivor to lift your spirits.

spotify-logo copy.jpgThere's a great story over at One Mobile Ring, which if confirmed may have a huge impact on the way we consume music on the move. The site is claiming that Virgin Media will soon be announcing that Spotify will be accessible on the Virgin Mobile phones - without incurring any data charges, or affecting the accompanying phone's data allowance.

So, let's get this straight. You will be able to listen to streamed music over 3G wherever you are and not have to pay date charges for it. Spotify works OK over 3G, but most people realise that if they do use it they will incur huge date charges. In the future, when we get 4G networks, data costs will tumble and being able to access music in this way will be a no brainer. It will work better as connections will also be faster and more robust. It is interesting to note that one of the world's most advanced 4G networks, Yota in Russia cites streamed music as one of its cores services.

Apparently Virgin Media is the only digital entertainment provider in the UK to offer the music platform across multiple services, and for the foreseeable future will be the only company to offer Spotify on 3G.

We'll be watching this story develop

315909-facebook-music.jpgThe jury is very much out on Facebook's music offering - this comes after conducting a scientific search of social media reponses from two other people.

While everyone seems to love the Spotify link up, some people seem to have issues about people sharing what they are listening to in their timeline.

Personally I am all up for finding out what music other people are playing. However I think that Facebook's limited user response to this - you can either 'like' their music or add a comment - is now a bit outdated. I think it is time Zuckerberg and his pals created a few more options.

How about...

Dislike button - for mild distaste when you see someone playing Ed Sheeran.

Pathetic attempt to be a hipster button - for when people are playing Warpaint when you know they'd rather be listening to One Direction (or buying one of their phones)

Try and listen to something new you saddo button - For when they are playing Nirvana, REM or anything else that they listened to at Uni (sadly I think I might get this one a lot)

Your partner has hijacked your Spotify account button - For when the music gets much better/much worse or starts breaking into classical or jazz

We know you are playing air guitar button - Appropriate for Aerosmith, Green Day, Led Zep etc

Simon Cowell button - For when the music they play has absolutely no musical and artistic credibility, but you bet they wouldn't half fancy shagging the lead singer.

You have accidentally left Spotify running on random button - Tells the user to sort it quick before it starts playing their Genevieve Waite tracks.

Any more? What button would you want?

Deezer1.jpgSo what the hell is Deezer? And do you need another music streaming service in your life? Well, chances are you hadn't heard of Deezer before last night when the French company announced its role as part of Facebook's music package. Deezer however has been around for a while. It was launched as a service back in 2007 in France (before Spotify) and since then has signed up more than 20 million users and 1.3 million subscribers. It actually debuted in the UK earlier in September, but will have got a massive new number of subscribers yesterday.

But what if you have Spotify already - do you need another music streaming service? Well here are the differences between the two.

1 Deezer is web-based. Spotify is client based.

The big difference is that Deezer is a web based service. So you don't have to download any software, you simply go to the website, create your account and the music - all 13 million tracks - is waiting for you.

With Spotify you have to have a computer with the client on board for it to work. The Facebook upgrade, which lets you listen to Spotify songs on the social networking sites, doesn't actually change this. If you try to listen to a song it then downloads the client on to the PC. Very cleverly it doesn't matter who has been using the Spotify client as it automatically logs you out of someone else's account and connects to yours.

I guess the browser based nature of the service might mean that Deezer can go a few places that Spotify can't as it might be able to skip through some work firewalls.

2 The free options are different

As you probably know the free Spotify service is one, ad funded and, two comes with a few restrictions on the number of times you can play a track. With Deezer things are a little different. You can access the radio channels and Smartradio, but music on demand is limited to 30 second clips rather than the whole song. To listen to whole albums etc you have to subscribe. However when we signed in this morning we were offered a few weeks of the service for free. I am not sure how long this will be available for.

3 The mobile service is different

Deezer wins on this one. Its mobile options are easier to use and more detailed than Spotify's and includes extra features such as radio and Smartradio. You can also listen to music on your mobile via Deezer (well the radio and Smartradio) without having to pay for a subscription, Spotify only offers its mobile service to its paying customers.

Other than those three biggies the services are fairly similar.

Spotify has the edge in number of track 15 million to 13 million, however I did keep finding things on Deezer that are not on Spotify. The big names are John Lennon (his catalogue was removed from Spotify a few months back) and Pink Floyd (whose albums are being rolled out on Deezer in the next few weeks). Neither service has The Beatles or Led Zeppelin.

The interfaces and general features (like social sharing of tracks) work in a similar way. Deezer looks a little more MySpacey to Spotify's iTunes influenced design. Deezer does have Soundcloud integration, which is a very nice touch. I guess Spotify will get this soon.

The subscription deals are virtually identical with both charging £4.99 for full PC service and £9.99 if you want to take tracks with you on your mobile. Slight moan about Deezer though - their service is 4.99 and 9.99 Euros which makes it even cheaper in France. Shame they couldn't have saved us Brits a few pence too.

Overall then, do you need both? Well probably not. Is one better than the other? Not really, it is too close to call. There might come a day when one of them offers a feature that will make me change my mind, but for now both services are well worth considering. Five quid a month for all that music? Bargain!

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