Spotify vs Google Play

I've recently switched over to Spotify for the nth time to explore the Spotiverse world and compare as a long time Google Play Music user. This is a big deal for me, as I was a first adopter of Google Play and have used it before All Access, and subscribed immediately to All Access once it was released. As a ravenous music consumer, I've preferred the subscription model for instant, on demand access. This is my personal comparison of some of the strengths and weaknesses of each, compiled over actual usage. Hopefully, it will help anyone who is interested in the differences and trying to decide.

Spotify

  1. Playlists: A wealth of socially driven playlists exist with Spotify. You can even create a adhoc playlist on the fly via their api from your own music app. They also have collaborative lists so it's very easy to build a playlist with like minded folks.
  2. Crossfade: It's a pretty smooth experience to have tracks merge seamlessly. Setting 12 secs of crossfade makes it feel like a DJ is mixing up a radio experience for you.
  3. Radio is getting better than my first experience of it, at playing related music.
  4. Explicit filtering. Spotify doesn't offer as a global setting. They suprisingly seem to have ignored user requests for this. Makes it a little less family friendly if you aren't careful.
  5. Ability to follow artists helps with good "new releases" I'd be interested in.

Google Play

  1. Radio is ok.
  2. Offline: Pinning a radio station gives you a fresh mix of songs, but not too many. Pinning a playlist in spotify for offline = every song downloaded.
  3. Quality designated for mobile vs wifi. Spotify just has Download vs Stream, with no designation between streaming on a wifi network and mobile network.
  4. Explicit filter is implemented.
  5. Terrible new release feed. For a while it never even updated (some bug in sub-genre at the time I believe). No way to mark uninterested, so recommendations are pretty off.

Things I Can't Believe Aren't Fixed

  1. Global Thumbs Down. Why is this not there! Spotify should add a global thumbs down, instead of just in radio stations. I should be able to dislike a song to remove it from any playlist or the recommended discovery songs. Google Play has a little better experience with this, but still far to limited.

algorithms taking away my choice?

This seems speak to the mentality today that algorithms and user behavior drive all the results, not requiring user feedback. The negative to this is for people like myself who want to improve the results I'm offered... well we are left out in the cold. Pandora offers the best radio design out there, imo. They rely on feedback to help ensure the results are provided as the user wants. I'd like to see this design choice in more of the music services instead of them trying to assume they've identified my preferred choices.

honorable mention Pandora

Overall, the winner for me is Spotify. However, if Pandora's new service wasn't so darn limited in selection, inconsistent with on demand availability, and implemented on desktop as well as mobile I'd recommend them. As it stands, I can't recommend it at this time.