The arrival of Google+ is forcing us to make some tough choices about Facebook — what about the friends, carefully-curated photo albums, and goofy little notes you're not sure you want to pack along to the new place? And now there's Spotify, which is trying to force our hand when it comes to our beloved music source Grooveshark.
Much like with the likely-soon-to-be-passe Facebook, it's tough to make a clean break with Grooveshark's free music streaming site. Spotify recently hit American shores, leaving us with more difficult decisions and unsatisfying choices. At present, neither music streaming site feels complete, but if you rolled them both together, you'd have close to everything you wanted — in one large, lumpy, and inconvenient package. So, the question is: Which is better?
Spotify, like Google+, is shiny and well organized. On the other hand, Grooveshark has a friendlier interface, not to mention a more lawless, less-corporate feel. That's because Grooveshark's user-uploaded database has plenty of music that can't be found on Spotify. For example, Grooveshark has Adele's album 21, but Spotify still doesn't. Then again, when Spotify has an album, all of the tracks will play properly. Grooveshark, not so much.
Both sites cost about the same to use. They're free in basic form, and getting rid of interface ads will set you back a few bucks per month: six on Grooveshark and five on Spotify. Getting Grooveshark on your mobile, meanwhile, is $9 more, $10 on Spotify.
But unlike the suddenly-ubiquitous Spotify, Grooveshark is still the place to go for tracks of dubious legality. For example, you'll never find Negativland's “U2” on Spotify, but you can punch up several versions of the uncopyrightable classic on Grooveshark. Grooveshark also beats Spotify on house music mashups, boasting an impressive collection of tracks from Bootie, et al.
Both sites have labeling problems. The quality control at Grooveshark — reminiscent of pirate programs like Limewire — is far poorer than that at Spotify, but Spotify isn't flawless either. For example, if you want to look up the music of one Polly Jean Harvey, entering “P.J. Harvey,” with periods, yields a different set of results that entering “PJ Harvey,” without.
Another nifty feature is that Spotify seamlessly integrates with your iTunes playlists. Grooveshark doesn't. Spotify also has a hefty selection of vocals-free karaoke tracks that pop up, for those playing along at home.
In the end, though, I don't want to be paying for two different services. So, which will I choose?
Although the rebel in me likes Grooveshark's DIY feel, I'll probably be killing my subscription there, reverting to the free service and paying for Spotify on my mobile. In the end, Grooveshark just has too many glitches, whereas if a track shows up on Spotify, you know it'll play. That means less futzing with the phone and more busting out the beats.