Spotify Has Landed in the U.S. and on Onkyo
The new streaming service offers on-demand music three ways. We took it for a test drive.
July 14, 2011 by Rachel Cericola

Music fans have another service to add into the medley that’s currently available. Spotify has just launched in the U.S.

The free, ad-supported music service has been in Europe for years. Yes, it’s similar to Pandora, but it’s also completely different. Instead of forming a radio station around your favorite artists, Spotify allows you to listen to any track on-demand.

Within moments of the launch, Onkyo delivered word that Spotify Premium will be available on the company’s home theater receivers, via a firmware update. The first Onkyo product to receive the service will be the TX-NR609. Onkyo plans to add the service to other products in the near future. We’re guessing they’re not alone.

So how does the service work—and more importantly, how is it different from every other music service out there? Well, first you’ll need to be invited to use Spotify. Free access is actually an exclusive club. However, if you can’t wait for an invite, you can buy your way in by signing up for either a Premium or Unlimited plan. The Premium plan delivers unlimited, ad-free music for $5 per month. For $10, you can have Unlimited service, which adds offline storage and Spotify on your compatible mobile device of choice.

Once you decide on a plan, you need to go through the sign-up motions, which includes a user name and password, as well as your zip code, birthday, and gender. Cell phone details are also an option, if you want to add that into the musical mix. Once you have signed up, download the Spotify software to a PC or Mac.

After launching the software, you’ll be greeted by a variety of new musical options. You can also cut to the chase and use the Spotify search bar at the top. This makes it insanely easy to find songs, artists and albums from almost any era. We were able to find plenty of mainstream artists, as well as some curveballs (The Vindictives, The Mr. T Experience, and Panther Burns). In fact, there was only one band we couldn’t find in our search experience (sorry to The Rave-Ups). 

Obscurity aside, results were instant. Even better, so was the streaming process. On our wireless connection, we had absolutely no hiccups. Press play, and it plays. It also sounds very nice, although we didn’t have the chance to run it through our home theater setup.

Spotify’s search process also includes local tracks in the mix, which can make for one pretty hearty playlist. Also, there are a ton of new albums available for streaming. We found the new Beyonce, Beastie Boys, Britney Spears, and plenty of other artists that don’t begin with the letter B. That said, it is nice to be able to try before you actually buy the CD (remember those?) or even invest in an iTunes purchase.

Spotify also has a social element, via Facebook integration. This allows you to find out which friends use Spotify and make all other jealous with posts of what you’ve been playing.

Overall, Spotify may seem like a small fish in a huge pond of options out there. Millions of songs on demand (and possibly for free) certainly seems like a good hook though, doesn’t it?

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

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