As Zack pointed out Spotify is available starting today in the USA. Invite codes were sent to some of those who signed up early, but anyone can get in on the action with a $4.99 unlimited or $9.99 premium plan. I subscribed to the premium plan to try it out. While I am feeling my way around the service I have a few thoughts about it compared to Slacker Radio Premium and the Zune Pass subscription.
SpotifySpotify has something like 13 million available tracks for you to listen to with Mac and PC clients designed to help you setup your service. There are mobile clients for iOS, Android, Symbian, webOS, and older Windows Mobile devices. You can actually go to m.spotify.com to see if your phone is compatible with the service.
Spotify for the USA looks to be all about the playlists and that is not how I use my subscription services so in order for me to find it useful I will have to change how I enjoy music right now. I like how I can find a genre in the Zune Pass or radio station in Slacker to then just have music streamed to me randomly. I do see that Spotify connects through Facebook so you can share and subscribe to friends' playlists and imagine this is the most efficient way to get playlists with various song selections setup with Spotify. If you are someone who already has a ton of playlists then I am sure you will appreciate how Spotify brings those in and gets you running. I personally have a rather small music collection and prefer to listen to streaming collections of genres with services like Pandora, Last.fm, etc.
SlackerSlacker has a Premium Radio subscription plan for the same $9.99/month that the Spotify Premium subscription is priced at. This subscription plan gives you full control over your music (songs, albums, and artists) while also supporting genre stations. You can create custom playlists too so it is very similar to Spotify. Slacker has a catalog of something like 8 million songs so there is one advantage of Spotify. However, 8 million is plenty for me and I haven't found much lacking in terms of selection. Slacker can also be enjoyed on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and webOS devices so they even have more mobile clients than Spotify.
Zune PassI have written before why I think the Zune Pass subscription is a major value and with over 11 million tracks there is not much of an advantage by Spotify in selection. The Zune Pass is only available on Zune devices and Windows Phone 7 so it is quite limited in the mobile aspect. However, if you have a Windows Phone 7 device then you get the benefit of streaming or offline play, genre, artist, album, song selection, playlists, and 10 songs a month to keep forever too. There is also an excellent Windows Zune client that is enjoyable to use and supports social interaction with other Zune Pass members. One issue with the Zune Pass is that it is a pretty closed system that still has a limited following.
There are other solutions like Last.fm, Rhapsody, Rdio, Pandora, Napster, and more available too so there is a lot to look at for the consumer. I likely will not continue my Spotify Premium account past the first month because I find both Slacker and the Zune Pass to beat Spotify for my listening habits.
What service do you prefer and why?