This is Spotify. It will change how you enjoy music. Any track. Any time. On your computer. On you your cell phone. Search for it. Play it. Any artist. Any album. Any genre. Available instantly. It’s never been this easy to discover, to play, to share. All your favorite music, all your friends, all in one place. It’s how music was meant to be enjoyed. It’s free and only one click away. Check out Spotify today.

Eliot Van Buskirk on April 8, 2009:

But those who have tried Spotify know it’s like a magical version of iTunes in which you’ve already bought every song in the world — and it’s free to use if you can put up with a 20-second ad every half an hour.

PHYSICAL ARTIFACT: High Point, North Carolina, 1980. At the time I was nine, an age when you soak up music. Every kind of music. Centerfold by J. Geils Band. PacMan Fever by Buckner & Garcia. The Tide Is High by Blondie. Marketing, even back then, knew how to sell. One day, in the mail was a music club solicitation. The deal: twelve albums for a penny. I thought, “Wow!” Excited, I checked off twelve albums and sent it off the next day.

Some of twelve: ACDC’s Back in Black, KISS, Styx, Air Supply, Rolling Stones. I still have ’em.

A few weeks ago, my neighbor had a garage sale and I picked up a turntable for $10. As the albums turned, I read the album covers and listened to the songs I listened to more than 30 years ago. That afternoon I was back in 1980. My records, they physically connected me to my past.

DIGITAL ARTIFACT: Even before Napster, CDs were ripped. CDs were small enough to be portable and you could instantly jump from song to song, but only to about twelve of them. So we ripped them into MP3 files.

Soon enough MP3 CDs came around. Twelve become a hundred and twelve. And then became 1000 and twelve, thanks to the iPod.

We were drowning in a digital sea of MP3 files. Filing them was difficult, if not impossible. Apple threw us a line with iTunes. And we gladly entered Apple’s walled garden to get our share of ¢99 songs. We no longer wanted to get ripped off by having to buy an entire CD for the one song we really wanted. And some of us wanted to go legit and drop the Napster habit.

Maybe it’s because we have thousands of them. Or maybe it’s because we can’t physically hold them. Whatever the reason I have no attachment to my MP3 files. Instead, they feel like a bother: backed up in dozens of DVDs, stored in large hard drives.

I think it maybe time to step outside the garden of Apple, even with iCloud on the horizon, because iTunes isn’t working well for me.

NO ARTIFACT: Let me say this up front. Spotify decouples artifact ownership from the experience of listening to music. In my opinion, this is the future. I like it and I don’t like it.

I love good music. Good music makes me feel. And the world is filled with good music. With iTunes I was limited by the size of my wallet. Spotify lets me explore, all 15 million songs, for free.

You don’t know how much this means to me. I like a lot of music. It would have cost me a fortune to own them all. (A quick side note: I think Spotify could dramatically reduce music piracy. There really is no need. It’s all yours anyway.) From the moment I installed Spotify this morning music has filled my room, nonstop. This is good and I like it, very much.

Will Apple be part of this? Is Apple so entrenched in the way it sells music that it will overlook the power a service like Spotify gives to music lovers the world over?

I’m no fortuneteller, but if I were to guess, song downloads on iTunes and elsewhere will soon plateau, and eventually decline. The tipping point was today. I firmly believe the age of digital music artifacts will soon begin to fade. We have stepped into an age free of artifacts.

I’m not uneasy, but the experience of not owning the music I’m listening to is different. Thirty years later, I’ll remember this day and there’d be nothing to hold, nothing physical or even digital to connect me to this moment. And that’s what I think I don’t like.

But like it or not, Spotify is the future. I have experienced it today. And maybe it is the experience of music, free from artifacts, that matters.

PS: While typing this post I searched, double-clicked, and was instantly listening to: Centerfold, PacMan Fever, and The Tide Is High. Brilliant, simply brilliant!

Update 2011.09.26: Spotify PR rep Angela Watts via All Things D:

As an existing Spotify user, you can still use the service without actively using Facebook. However, from last Thursday, all new users will need to have a Facebook account to join Spotify. To us, this is all about creating an amazing new world of music discovery. To make this as good and simple as it possibly can be, we’ve integrated Spotify login with Facebook login. By adopting Facebook’s login, we’ve created a simple and seamless social experience.

I am one of 6.2 billion people that don’t have a Facebook account. Bad move.

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