Shedding the Spots
The main reason I moved away from Spotify was because I discovered that it uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology and that there is no option to disable this. This means that whenever the Spotify program is open, it will happily upload lots of music data that you happen to have on your hard drive (perhaps because it’s cached or because it’s in an “available offline” playlist) to other Spotify users.
This poses a number of problems. Firstly, those with a limited amount of bandwidth provided by their ISP may find that Spotify uses up a lot of their allowance. Secondly, when uploading to other users, it can cause problems for other applications that use your Internet connection. In particular, online gamers (such as myself) will find their ping/latency in games reach unacceptable levels.
I had been slightly grumpy with Spotify for a while (due to posting a number of issues / recommendations on their support forum and not getting any official responses.) At the time I was also using a 1st generation iPhone (‘2G’) and Spotify had recently decided (without warning) to remove support for these iPhones from their mobile app.
So I couldn’t really have Spotify open (and therefore listen to music) at the same time as playing Guild Wars and I could no longer listen to Spotify on the move. I decided to look elsewhere.
Becoming a Deezer Geezer
Deezer seemed to fit the bill nicely. Not only do they offer a free month’s trial (I didn’t even have to enter my credit card details if I remember correctly), it works from within the web browser (so it definitely doesn’t use P2P) and has a large collection of music. Plus their app worked on iOS 3 and so I could listen to music on my mobile again.
All well and good but after a few months I noticed a number of problems. Because Deezer works within the web browser, this introduces a number of limitations. Firstly, any multimedia keys you have on your keyboard (‘play/pause’, ‘next track’, etc) will not function. Secondly, it cannot play any local music tracks (e.g. mp3s) that you have on your computer without you uploading them first. And once uploaded, the way u navigate them is rather clumsy – it wouldn’t even let me sort them by or even list their track numbers. Thirdly, the only way to add an album to a playlist in Deezer is to add each track in turn. This may not sound like much of a problem but it can get pretty irritating pretty quickly. Lastly I found that Deezer didn’t have music from a number of artists that I really like that Spotify does have; Hybrid, Plaid and Autechre, for example. By this point I had ditched the iPhone and got a fantastic Samsung Galaxy SII which Spotify supported so I chose to return to Spotify.
Spotify have recently implemented ‘gapless playback’, a feature that many users had been requesting for ages. When listening to an album where one track is supposed to mix seemlessly into another, this feature really improves the experience for me.
But what about the P2P problem? I still played Guild Wars and I still wanted to listen to music whilst playing without it uploading lots of data to others and giving making my character the response time of a drunken tortoise. Unfortunately, Spotify still provide no option for disabling the P2P part of the program so I had to resort to more technical measures.
At first I thought I would have to enable ‘offline mode’ whenever I was playing an online game. However, this would prevent me streaming any music (that wasn’t “available offline”.) What I did was to use the Windows Firewall built into Windows 7 and configure it such that incoming connections to Spotify were refused except for IP addresses on the local subnet (i.e. other computers/devices on my home network.) If you want to know more details about how to do this, please leave a comment and if there is enough demand I will explain in a seperate blog post.
So now I’m back with Spotify, minus the annoying P2P and with a supported mobile phone! Hooray!
Summary of the advantages
- Larger music collection
- Gapless playback
- Multimedia keyboard keys work properly
- Better support for playback of local music files
- Works within any Flash-enabled web browser therefore more ‘portable’
- No peer-to-peer (P2P)
- Support for the original (‘2G’) iPhone