One epically slow Friday afternoon at my day job, I sat typing a horrendously long report—the kind that requires its own table of contents. Fridays are quiet around my office building. Rather than fall asleep at my desk, I broke through the silence with a song from Ingrid Michaelson. Then another and another. I listened to just about every song she’s ever released. Her music kept my toes tapping under my desk and my head from nodding forward in a lunch-induced coma. “If you are chilly, here, take my sweater,” she sang to me.
I don’t have Ingrid Michaelson’s entire library on my computer, but I do have Spotify, and this little desktop app lets me stream music straight to my computer. Calling itself the “lean, green music machine,” Spotify certainly has a lot going for it.
Released in 2008 in Sweden, Spotify has grown massively in just a few years. By the time it was released in the United States last summer, it was already available in seven other countries. With 1.6 million subscribers to paid “unlimited” or “premium” versions, Spotify makes music legally accessible online and on-demand for $4.99 for computer access or $9.99 for mobile capability and syncing with your home computer. The promise is that you have all of your music and all of Spotify’s wherever you go and whenever you want.
“It just made sense,” audiophile Micah Nickens told me recently in his cozy studio. Spotify was playing music in the background, and I immediately started asking about the artists, making mental notes to try to find Nickens, who’s also the owner of the Garden District salon Gaudet Brothers, on Spotify when I got home. “I signed up for the free version for three days—but I did the premium right after that,” he said.
What he wasn’t expecting was the full social integration with Facebook that would happen weeks later. Nickens signed up using his personal email address rather than his Facebook account, but this fall, Spotify made it mandatory for new users to sign up through the social networking giant.