It is quite likely that you have already discovered the joy that is free music streaming via the services of Last.FM and/or Spotify on your home PC or laptop. Now that the mobile arms for both of these services are dependent on you handing over your hard earned cash (Last.FM switched to a micro payments model in February this year), you may be wondering which is the superior service for music on the go via your internet enabled smart phone – assuming you aren’t stuck in the 90s and actually own one that is!
Here is my comparative analysis the Last.FM and Spotify mobile apps…
Last.FM mobile – The Good:
- The Price for Last.FM mobile is a measly £3 per month – about the same price as a Starbucks coffee!
- The interface of the application is extremely simple – even the most technophobic noobs will be able to use it!
- The ‘Recommended Artists’ feature included in the desktop version is also included in the Last.FM mobile app, as is the ability to search for upcoming events involving your favourite artists. You can also view your friends’ Last.FM profiles (making the app a far more social than the Spotify equivalent).
Last.FM mobile – The Bad:
- The number of tracks available in the Last.FM catalogue is limited compared to that offered by Spotify. Using the “My Library” radio limits the tracks further, to only those which you have listened to before and that are currently available through Last.FM. This means that you’ll hear the same tracks regularly.
- Interrupted internet/3G signals seem to affect Last.FM more than Spotify. Tracks do not tend to recover and start buffering again after interrupted signal in Last.FM (instead skipping to the next available track), whilst songs in Spotify will just pause for a second or two before continuing to play.
- Data consumption is higher than that of Spotify (at least, in my “limited-to-1GB-of-mobile-internet-per-month” experience).
- Despite this, the sound quality is less than Spotify as streaming occurs at a bit rate of 64kbps HE-AAC.
- A “pause” option had only just been added to the Last.FM app (arguably, this could have gone in the Good list but this is a feature that one would have assumed would have been comprised from the start!)
Spotify mobile – The Good:
- Higher sound quality is available to Spotify Premium members (a maximum of 320 kbps using the Ogg Vorbis Q9 codec).
- As mentioned in the Last.FM Bad list, Spotify is less prone to buffering difficulties as a result of temporary interrupted internet/3G signals.
- The Spotify mobile application is easy to navigate and anyone used to using the desktop version of the program shouldn’t have any problems using the mobile adaptation.
- Spotify provides a HUGE collection of music for your enjoyment – it really is the ultimate jukebox and makes Last.FM’s offering look miniscule!
- The applications ‘Offline mode’ can save you a significant amount of data – precious should your contract limit your to a certain amount each month.
- Exclusive content is often made available to Spotify mobile users, for example, the option to hear new albums before or from the very day that they are released.
- Spotify mobile automatically integrates local music files into the player for your convenience.
Spotify mobile – The Bad:
- Spotify mobile is a bit more of an investment at £9.99 a month.
- The number of tracks available in the app’s offline mode is limited by the space remaining on your phone and its SD memory card (you may have to pay for a larger card get the most out of this feature).
- The Spotify mobile app is a less social one compared to Last.FM. Users cannot view their friends’ profiles, artist bios, related artist suggestions or upcoming events using their mobile. Friends however can send tracks to your inbox (which is accessible through Spotify mobile).
- Queuing tracks can often be a problem in Spotify mobile. Sometimes, long pressing a track title will bring up the option to a queue a track and in other instances; this same action will play the track the second you let go – which is really annoying should you be getting to the awesome guitar solo in the song you are already playing! It should however be pointed out that queuing is not an option at all in the Last.FM mobile app.
From this breakdown, you can probably tell that I prefer the Spotify mobile app over Last.FM’s and this is why I currently pay the monthly fee for Spotify Premium. Before the micropayments were introduced to Last.FM however, paying for Spotify didn’t even cross my mind. One 7 day free trial later however and I am hooked! The fact that the free version of Spotify now limits users to playing each tracks a maximum of 5 times EVER also may have had something to do with the switch!
Consider the points above to determine which the best is for your own music listening needs; the colossal jukebox that is Spotify mobile, or the iPod shuffle-esque Last.FM mobile app.
About the Author:Katherine Cole relies on Spotify mobile to keep her entertained while she undertakes her daily commute to her job as an accident compensation advisor. She does however love Last.FM too, if only for the scrobbles and resulting statistics that it provides her.