Is Spotify The Best Modern Music Service For College Students?


While Spotify is not the newest digital music service on the table (formally established in 2008 and has gained momentum ever since), it definitely breaks the mold. I have been a Premium subscriber since June 2012, and have never reconsidered my decision. Yes – I pay $9.99 a month for unlimited music, but my purchase is always well worth it. I’m here to support my claim that Spotify is definitely the best music mobile/desktop application on the market. But before I can confidently make this statement, let’s examine the main competitors that I’ve used thus far: Pandora and Songza. For the purpose of this article, I am primarily comparing my experience with Spotify to the paid versions of Pandora and Songza as almost anyone can vouch that unpaid versions of any music platform are either frustrating, or will not provide everything you are looking for.

Before I started using Spotify, which I frequently use while driving, I was an avid Pandora user. In order to make the most of your Pandora experience, users are encouraged to upgrade to Pandora One, which includes: no advertisements, higher quality audio, desktop application, custom skins, and fewer interruptions for a meager $36 per year/$3.99 per month. Additionally, Pandora One grants you a 24 Hour Free Trial.

Sure – this sounds great, right? But let me tell you how Spotify surpasses these features – namely, using Spotify Free is what usually leads one to upgrading to Spotify premium. With Pandora, you are almost, figuratively speaking, forced to upgrade because it can piss you off that much. While you will not be free of advertisements if you use the Spotify Free version, the first sixth months of listening time are unlimited, and downgrade to 10 hours per month after your trial is over. That way, a user has six months to decide whether or not it’s worth the financial commitment. With Pandora One, you almost have to plan which day of the week would be best to begin your 24 Hour Free Trial. For instance, I know I am not streaming Pandora while I’m out at the bar on a Friday or Saturday night, or during the workweek when I barely have any free time. Like Pandora One, Spotify Premium has no interruptions and also provides high quality streaming.

The only downside of Spotify as compared to Pandora One is the fact that Spotify does not have any skins for its player. In my eyes, this is a minor detail as I am far more concerned about the capabilities of my music platform. Pandora may let you create a list of your favorite stations as per artist, song, album or genre, but you will never be able to create individualized playlists of a mixture of the aforesaid items like you can with Spotify Premium. Lastly, Pandora doesn’t let you see and add what your friends are listening to! I find this to be important because this is one of the main ways, besides utilizing the Radio/What’s New feature, I find new music. On to the next…

Songza isn’t necessarily on the same tier as Spotify and Pandora because users sorely lack the scope of choice. Don’t get me wrong though — Songza is accessible because it curates edgy playlists for any mood, activity or time of day. Most recently, Songza has incorporated Club Songza into its model, which eliminates advertising and provides twice as many skips for just $1 a week. This ends up being just as much as Pandora One in the long run. I also acknowledge that Songza provides users with a multitude of playlists to choose from, does not have advertisements, and allows users to see what their friends are listening to, along with the option of contributing your own playlist to the platform. While Songza allows one to follow friends and see what they’re listening to, the option is still very limited. For instance, the Spotify platform maintains a constant feed of what your friends’ activity that covers what they’ve recently listed to, their updated playlists, who they’re following and more. Lastly, Club Songza should definitely join Pandora One and Spotify Premium by incorporating a desktop application into their platform.

Overall, I’d say the main takeaway with Spotify is scope of choice and its quantity/quality of social sharing options. With the amount of music that’s out there these days – that should be the most important feature of any digital music service. Pandora One and Club Songza are simply unable to exposure users to the vast pool of musicians, combined with the activity of users, within any given listening session. In today’s digital age, we want the world to be at our fingertips. Of course, it’s nice to stay with the classics of each genre and intermittently be introduced to some of the newbie’s – but I think users should have the ability to make the most eclectic playlist at their own discretion, always.