Life has just changed so much for the better. Spotify arrived in Australia (where i live) just a month or two ago and I gave it a go. It costs $11.99 a month to have full access to the premium app...but this gives you access to stream (and at high quality - 320kbps if you so choose) pretty much any track that ever existed...ok, some pedants will start wailing and gnashing their teeth and scream that they can't find x or y, but in all seriousness "most" music is there.
So far so good. Playlists are a piece of cake to build and if you choose you can make them publicly available. This is a good thing, because you can either subscribe to someone else's playlist OR copy it and make it your own...and as you don't have to download any music it doesn't mean you have to download the entire thing. A good working example of this was when I, on a sunny afternoon with a few friends round, decided on a whim to search "sunny afternoon". Spotify duly served up all tracks, albums, artists and playlists that included the search term. A quick scan of the playlist results gave me a fantastic playlist that lasted about 7hrs and was amazingly perfect for what I wanted! I subscribed, sent a track recommendation to the playlist owner and said thanks. By subscribing to this list I get to see all the additions or updates.
I can also use free apps that attempt to create playlists to suit my mood, genre preference etc (ok, been done before, but still a good thing).
People seem to whine about the cost...but for $11.99 a month I NEVER have to buy (or search for) another CD again. Nor do I have to download over priced and lower quality MP3's from iTunes. My entire existing cd collection is there for my streaming pleasure...all I have to do is enter the name ONCE, then I can save it for future use. The only thing that is more cost effective is stealing music, but we all know that is a no-no :-) Radio Paradise is a cheaper option, but despite their "no ads and little waffle" policy, you are still at the mercy of their choice...a very poor substitute for total choice and ZERO ads or waffle.
Spotify even imports your current playlists from iTunes or windows media player...and again, obviously, they are ready to go with no downloading.
People also whine about the Facebook element...simply switch it OFF in options! Blimey, it's not hard! And you never know, if you left it on you may find that you discover some new tunes from your mates? It isn't so bad to have that option is it?
It works superbly on PC, IPad or iPhone and one can even download an app that turns an iOS device into a remote control for spotty playing on a pc plugged into your main hi-fi system.
It is also very good at buffering...I am not sure exactly why it performs better than other streaming apps I have used, but I think it is to do with the number of connections it establishes to ensure smooth and uninterrupted streaming...
Another feature I love is the "artist radio". Right click on any artist and choose "artist radio" and it will immediately fire up a playlist that gives you that artist plus similar other tunes (I assume from taking an average of what other people who listen to that artist also listen to?)
So, here I sit, an old laptop plugged into my hi-fi, playing great music at 320kbps (hard to tell apart from a cd...pedants feel free to differ, but really...) and controlling the whole thing from my iPad. I am old enough to remember taking ghetto blasters (large cassette players) on holiday with a tedious and bulky collection of tapes which got stale by day two! Now all I need is my iPhone and a net connection (and a decent sound system to plug it into) and I have ALL my music (and everyone else's too for that matter!) wherever I go. How is that not the best thing ever?
Within a week of downloading the app I had deleted ALL of the mp3s I had on my phone...Spotify has them all anyway and I don't have to bloat my phones limited memory with fat files!
You clearly don't know you've lived if you don't see this as one of the best things since sliced bread....in fact, I'd gladly slice my own bread forevermore just to have my Spotify.