I’ve been Spotify subscriber for 7 years. At the beginning of 2021 I decided to end my subscription and start rebuilding my own local music library instead.
Coincidentally while writing this post, Spotify increased its subscription prices by 7-30% in Finland. This price increase didn’t affect my decision.
The reasons for ending my subscription are as follows.
- Artists’ compensation
Spotify’s compensation model is unfair to smaller artists. In Spotify’s model I pay a small fraction of my monthly fee to Drake1 regardless whether I listened to their music on that month or not.
Availability of music
I have about 180 songs in my Liked Songs list and at the time of writing 8 of them are unavailable. It’s not a huge number but still a bummer when you’re in a mood for that one specific song.
The Spotify’s user interface is optimized for a mobile device — even on desktop. It has a low information density, it’s slow and common operations, such as library management, require too many clicks.
Now that we’ve decided to ditch Spotify what do we replace it with?
The player part is easy: foobar20002. I had been it for years before subscribing to Spotify, so it was easy choice. The UI of foobar2000 is customizable, it’s fast and has many tools for library management, such as mass tagging.
To acquire music, I reviewed my Liked songs playlist in Spotify to see how many of them would available in services such as Bandcamp and many were. I purchased recent additions to the playlist and put the rest to Bandcamp’s wishlist.
Eventually I came across a song or an album in my Liked songs playlist that was not available for purchase in DRM free, lossless format. Many artists sell their music in physical format but I’m not going to buy CDs or vinyl records any more — there’s already enough “stuff”.
I could download the unavailable songs through Soulseek or other file sharing network but then remembered that some libraries have extensive music collections. The Helsinki Capital Region music library has over 100 000 music items. These items cover wide variety of genres in different physical formats. It’s not without its problems though: some of my loaned CDs have had scratches in them and a few tracks have been unplayable.
I used Exact Audio Copy to extract, compress and test the loaned CDs with these instructions (partly outdated). The important bit is to enable AccurateRip which checks the extracted music for errors against an internet database. I’ve used FLAC format because storage is cheap3.
Why see all this trouble of loaning CDs and ripping them? Why not use Soulseek and be done with it? This comes to how I see myself changing how I listen to music — I should do it more intentionally rather than having it as noise in the background. If I got everything immediately, without any friction, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much. Thus, I’m creating artificial scarcity and intentionally focusing on the albums that I’ve loaned.
I haven’t decided the tools for music discovery yet — I have a backlog of music to listen to. I’m planning to use Last.fm when the need arises. Bandcamp also has music discovery features.
For a long time, I’m now eagerly waiting for new music to be released. Today one of my favorite artists released new music and it’s available in Bandcamp DRM free.