February 24, 2012 by EH Staff
Last summer celebrated European music service Spotify finally debuted in the United States, terrifying iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and all the rest with its any-song-for-free listening model. However, the free Spotify version is riddled with huge ads, lower bit rates, and extreme time limits, so comparing it to, say, Rhapsody isn’t apples-to-apples. To create a proper battle, I pitted the unlimited-music, ad-free Spotify Premium ($9.99/month) against Rhapsody Premier ($9.99/month).
Both streaming music services offer 13 million-plus songs, so you’ll never run out of stuff to play (as long as that stuff doesn’t include live-streaming holdouts Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, or Metallica). To compare artist/album/song selection, I began by searching for artists on Spotify that I already had on Rhapsody, starting alphabetically. Disappointment didn’t take long. Hip-hop supergroup 213 (Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg): Not on Spotify. Same with downtempo electronica group 60 Channels. Okay, not fair to compare the services with obscure groups? How about Adele’s 21, one of the best-selling albums of 2011? Rhapsody, yes. Spotify, no.
Spotify offers 2 million more songs than Rhapsody, so what gives? Look up the Rolling Stones on Spotify, and you’ll be greeted with scads of albums you’ve never heard of, usually U.K.-only releases populated with the same old songs. So if you want every obscure version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” available, go with Spotify. If you want this year’s number-one album, go with Rhapsody.
Music Selection Winner: Rhapsody.
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