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Incident report: Spotify outage on March 8 (atspotify.com)
120 points by charlieegan3 5 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 129 comments

Has anyone else noticed that the quality of the Android app has really gone downhill lately? There's often a lag of a few seconds now when switching between tracks and I've noticed an issue recently where the song title/cover art doesn't always update to reflect the currently playing track. Sometimes the play/pause/skip buttons become completely unresponsive.

This doesn't appear to be an issue on my end, I haven't had problems with any of the other streaming apps I use and I've confirmed the same set of issues after a fresh install of the app. For the time being it's more of a nuisance but I would be prepared to consider alternatives if things don't start improving soon.

It's bad. Unfortunately last time I tried the main competitors, TIDAL and Deezer, their app was somehow worse.

It surprises many colleagues and friends that I still use an iPod Video from 2005-6.

Life without adverts, week-long battery life, instant track skipping, ratings, playlists (and OTG playlists) make the music experience better than any streaming services, which are really just radio replacements.

Embedded systems might not be "cool" any more, but they're repairable, and have other features too (iPod notes, games, contacts, calendar), and a thriving mod firmware scene (iPodLinux and Rockbox).

There is an alternative, if you'd like to come to the hardware side :)

You can also do this with your phone. You don't have to stream everything. Just add your files and use an app that can play music locally.

Or something like plex/embly/jellyfin and I can stream any of my home media to my phone/tablet that won't let me have removable storage.

Try Amazon music :)

For what it's worth and since you ask, no problems like that here. Spotify is fast and responsive, and I'm on a real cheapo Android phone at around the $100 price mark, and with really poor internet connection.

So the bigger news here is GCP had a global outage. How'd that happen?

It mentions a pipeline deployment introduced a bug (https://status.cloud.google.com/incidents/LuGcJVjNTeC5Sb9pSJ...) but why weren't they doing staged deployments to region(s) at a time?

This is now 'par for the course' with GCP.

A recent example, Firefox's Jan 2022 outage was due to an unannounced change deployed by GCP to their load balancers.


I've read several GCP related stories over the years so my opinion of them has fallen quite a bit. For some reason GCP does not get the flak they deserve, and their role in outages tend to be downplayed, while AWS and Azure are scrutinized and raked over the coals for smaller incidents.

They don’t get flak because most folks are in AWS or Azure. You notice when AWS or Azure hiccups because of this. GCP, not so much (besides Spotify and Snap, although I believe Snap’s 5yr $2B GCP commit deal recently ended).



Worth noting that Snap also has a commitment with AWS, they are not exclusively running on GCP.

Also worth noting that AWS is not exactly the most stable either.

Ah, good point about higher usage therefore flak, I hadn't considered that. Thanks.

Bjarne Stroustrup’s classic quote “There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses” certainly applies here.

>unannounced change deployed by GCP to their load balancers

Google doesn't need to announce every change they make. It was Firefox's fault for not supporting the protocol correctly.

Changing a default behaviour, yes they do. If you feel they don't, then you might be happy with GCP's services. It does not inspire any confidence with me.

It was known in advance that HTTP/3 support would eventually be enabled for the load balancers. If you wanted to force support for it or force it to not support it there was an override setting. Mozilla did not override the behaviour meaning that they did not mind HTTP/3 to be advertised as being supported.

so this is my "worked in aws" informed take, but you absolutely do not force default behavior change on anyone unless it is absolutely necessary, and advertising http/3 isn't necessary.

AWS had a similar oopsie with their Load Balancer: introduced a new flag to strip some headers, enabled it by default for all existing public ALBs, and the effect was that all custom headers with an underscore in the name (“x-access_token”) started getting stripped. Took down a few APIs https://forums.aws.amazon.com/thread.jspa?messageID=923182

Most outages have more than one cause. It’s true that Firefox had a nasty bug but it’s also likely that they’d have resolved the problem faster had a clear notification that GCP had upgraded their infrastructure right before the outage started, especially if that had an easy rollback option.

Traffic Directors config is global. I assume it was some kind of config system bug.

Over the past year I've taken to just buying my music and using plex/plexamp for the streaming convenience. I'd have a hard time going back to other streaming services after getting used to the convenience of having control over the entire chain. Buying music also serves as a nice way to spend digital credit from Amazon.

It ends up costing me about as much as streaming.

> It ends up costing me about as much as streaming.

Spotify is $10/month. If you're purchasing everything instead, that's only about 1 new album or 10 tracks per month into your collection.

The only way the price could be similar is if you're not listening to much new music. That may work from some people, but I don't think it's common. I estimate I listen to a minimum of 50 new tracks per week, which would be hundreds of dollars per month if I was buying everything.

I also wouldn't be exposed to nearly as much new music if I had to buy it all.

> I'd have a hard time going back to other streaming services after getting used to the convenience of having control over the entire chain.

I'm also confused about how dealing with all of these small purchases, manually managing your library, and setting up and maintaining a server for it is more convenient than signing up for Spotify.

It's hard to beat something like Spotify for convenience: Create account. Add payment method. Listen to nearly anything.

I think you might be dismissing the relative complexity of your setup because it's something you enjoy setting up and maintaining, but it's definitely not as convenient as Spotify (or other music streaming services).

> Spotify is $10/month. If you're purchasing everything instead, that's only about 1 new album or 10 tracks per month into your collection.

On average, that is indeed where I'm at, I had thought I did more than that but upon actually checking my purchase history, I found that I didn't really get new tracks too often, instead every few months I come across a new artist (via covers on youtube or from twitter) whose style I really enjoy and end up buying most of their discography in one go (and new tracks don't come out too often). Then I spend a lot of time listening to it all, enjoying picking up things I might've missed before. This is probably also affected by my preferences being a bit niche as a very specific flavor of J-Pop.

For managing the overall structure of my library I use MusicBrainz Picard, the small purchases don't really bother me too much.

You're right in that I do also enjoy setting up and maintaining my configuration. I self-host a bunch of things so the machine is already running anyway.

> getting used to the convenience of having control over the entire chain

What convenience is that? How do you consider that your setup is in anyway more convenient that opening the Spotify app and listening to basically anything?

If you are into very niche music or something maybe, but it's pretty hard to beat just clicking "play". Now if you said you simply pirate the songs I could see the convenience of saving money, but in your case you buy the music anyway?

My biggest complaint with all the streaming apps I tried was that their interface was terrible (in my opinion), so that was an especially important consideration to me. I prefer an 'old school' music player interface that focuses entirely on just my library.

Then there's also the issue of VPNs, especially on my phone, I prefer to always have my VPN active which most streaming services do not allow.

Plus, on desktop I often prefer to use a separate music player (MusicBee), which again lends itself nicely to the self-hosted solution since I just have it pointed to the same library as plex. Related to this is that I can organize my music however way I want and don't have to worry about being locked into the app's quirks.

Then, with the spotify outage I came across many complaints about login timeouts causing the app to outright log them out, preventing them from accessing even their downloaded music, which is also a nice thing to not have to think about.

On top of all that, my taste in music is indeed slightly niche and it isn't too uncommon for some track I have to outright not be on any streaming service (sometimes because it's too old, sometimes because it's from too small of an artist or isn't a public release), so not having to switch to a different app for only that music is also nice.

So combining all that makes a plex/plexamp style arrangement much more convenient to me than any streaming service.

I used to pirate the music back when I was too young to afford it and might still do so for music that isn't available for convenient purchase (ie only available by importing expensive physical media from the other side of the world), but otherwise since I can now afford it and am often somewhat invested in the artist's career, I don't mind buying it.

What convenience is that

In my particular case, as someone who listens to a lot of international music: licensing. I've come across, and subsequently lost track of so many amazing international groups whose music suddenly comes off of streaming sites and don't come back because of licensing disputes or the license just plain ran out.

Pretty convenient for me now to just buy the song/album, put it on my drive and know it's not going anywhere outside of data loss or drive theft. Two things I can reasonably control with a bit more vigor.

- Opening this setup and always finding the tracks you have. Nothing ever disappears from the catalog.

- Opening this setup and enjoying the highest quality.

- Opening this setup and having full control over playlists.

- Opening this setup overseas and still listening to the same tracks, regardless of local distribution rights.

- Opening this setup and realizing that you have already paid the artist likely more than several years of your listening on Spotify nonstop would bring them (only feels good if it's one of your favorite artists).

Because of outages and or censorship of content

I probably listen to music on Spotify ~5h a day while I work and I haven't had any downtime ever since I subscribed. As for censorship there was that thing with Joe Rogan, but as far as I know Spotify sided with him so I don't see where the censorship is?

You are in a thread about a Spotify outage. The White House press secretary called for censorship of Joe Rogan and I expect it will happen soon as they find a reason. Personally I cant stand the user interface and many times I am away from a network connection and something I downloaded is not available or Spotify is just stalled trying to connect. Its probably just not a good fit for my use case

I've never experienced a Spotify outage in the 5 years I've been using it and I use it daily. Not once.

I have issues with Plex regularly with file formats not playing nice, incorrect box art, content being labeled completely wrong, and random server hangs. It's OK, but I wouldn't say it's more convenient than Spotify. With Spotify I do literally nothing. With Plex I have to troubleshoot now and then. I don't see how self hosting a media collection is more convenient in any way.

I haven't had an issue with server hangs or file formats (not suggesting that those can't exist), but for metadata I'm in the habit of putting all music I buy through MusicBrainz Picard which can automatically fix any errors or missing metadata fields and put them in a neat structure (Artist/Album/Song). Haven't had to manually fix any matches since that.

But yes, if you don't have to do anything to have an enjoyable experience on Spotify, then there's no reason for you to bother with self-hosting.

Gosh, I used to fuss over metadata constantly back when I managed my 500gb library of music. MusicBrainz would frequently mess up fields like composer, album artist, and especially remix credits and formatting of the same (using brackets instead of parentheses, "Rmx" instead of "Remix," etc)

I would go on weekend long binges of cleaning up the mess. The neurotic side of me misses having the busy work, but the practical side appreciates having the free time.

> On March 8, Google Cloud Traffic Director experienced an outage. This in coordination with a bug in a client (gRPC) library caused the Spotify outage that affected many of our users: if you were logged out of a Spotify app, you were unable to log back in.

But they don’t explain why I was logged out. I did not log out myself. Or is this “logged out” in the sense that I did not have their app active at the time of the disruption?

Logging out on a 401 is pretty common in authentication, because it gives the user an opportunity to sign in again. Maybe the problem resulted in a 401 being returned, when it would have been better to return a 500.

In the web at least it was returning 500, I guess that the desktop/mobile apps make some check in intervals. When the backend returned 500 the app thought that the current login could not be authenticated and logged out everybody

I think some will aggressively log out even on 500s. If you log out 500s that's not the same as logging out failed network requests. The server has to actually send a response, so while it will erroneously log out sometimes, in a reliable api, or one that sends errors in 200s but is otherwise reliable, it won't be so often that a whole lot of users give up. Plus some API middlewares will default to hiding error response codes for security and always send 500 no matter what the upstream response code (this assumes the error codes aren't needed by the devs because they can look at the logs).

I've seen logging out on failed network requests, but that is highly annoying and frequently occurs and typically just a coding mistake.

Maybe some token expired and could not be renewed. They also mentioned a bug on a client grpc library.

Everybody was instantly logged out, which doesn’t make sense if their backend just went down, as the app normally works fine offline.

Well, not everybody, since I was logged in all week and didn't experience any downtime.

Does anyone have more context on why “unable to retrieve their xDS configurations.” led to ” Traffic Director-managed clients deprogrammed as the configuration was removed” ? For example, Envoy will keep its configuration forever unless 1) the configuration has a ttl or 2) the server itself sent back empty results. Was it the case that TD config uses ttls, the server was actually sending back empty results (frightening), or is this a behavior specific to grpc?

We suffered from similar issue to Spotify. Traffic Director pushed a mostly empty configuration to envoy. Very frightening indeed. It continued to push that invalid configuration over the course of the outage.

The main problem of the outage was that users were logged out and thus unable to play what songs they had downloaded / cached.

That and the accounts appearing locked, with password reset links not working. For the first few minutes of the outage, I thought I my accounts were what was compromised. Caused genuine concern for a while there since it appeared I had lost control over my Spotify account, and there's credit card data in there.

My better half thought that her account was hacked. So yeah, the logout thing is even worse than not being able to log in. Doesn't help that the error message they have is not very useful (there should be a "yeah it's our fault" message)

For sure. The "invalid password reset link" one really caused worry. It took until I hit the support page to figure out there was an account issue. Probably should have issued an email notice so I could have seen it when I tried to reset my password.

Yeah I was surprised that wasn't clearly stated in the incident report. They made it sound like I wasn't logged in when the outage occurred when I'm always logged in across all my devices.

Hey, for once it wasn’t DNS!

Traffic Director replaces DNS in GCP

There is always an exception to the rule!

I recently went to pay for a music service and wanted to give spotify a chance, but they have a huge information leak somewhere on when new accounts are created.

On the day of my free trial ending I received the first and only phishing email I've ever had from spotify telling me my trial was ending and it was time to swipe.

Up until then I had been happy with the service, but then noticed I was about to get owned.... Down to the day of expiration...

I emailed their support about how this was sketchy and they needed to do better information masking and got told their team did not consider any of this a vulnerabilty.

With this in tow, it really cast some shade on their serious engineering abilities for me.

I’d love for outages to not be newsworthy.

Just a reminder that downloaded audio files work offline, can have very high or lossless quality not restricted by bandwidth, have a concept of ‘ownership’ with no DRM, don’t have ads or tries to sell your data (though voluntarily contributing to ListenBrainz is admirable), don’t require a monthly fee, and if bought legally gives a bigger slice of the money pie to artists. Also podcasts are just RSS audio.

According to Last.fm I’ve listened to 156k songs from 16k artists (35k albums) over a little less than 10 years. Last time I bought music it was on iTunes and the lowest price was €0.79 per song. That would be a total of €123k.

Over the same period, I gave exactly €1200.93 to Spotify [1].

[1] note: it’s a pure coincidence that this is ~ €10 * 12 months * 10 years; the price has not always been the same.

6500 different songs by 1650 artists last year for me. I wouldn't say I listen to that much music, but buying individual albums is completely unrealistic. I've bought some, mostly to support artists, but in the future I'd be more inclined to buy merch (which is often unfortunately hard to find.) Similar to Steam, pirating is so much worse that paying a little for quality streaming is acceptable. As for data, I'm practically giving that away with last.fm anyway.

It's a combination of Spotify's fantastic weekly playlists, keeping up with new releases, and exploring new genres.

How do you find so many different songs? Shuffle?

You are essentially listening to 40 new songs per day.

Can't say for them, but for me I have a single playlist 6,994 songs on shuffle. I try to add songs every week, haven't recently as I also should be moving off of Spotify.

To what alternative are you moving into?

I guess I will just move to Apple, because the moving should be relatively easy.

Spotify "radios" (playlists that are generated on-the-fly once the thing you were listening to ended), recommendations (Spotify’s weekly playlists) and top 50 <country> playlists, browsing the "similar artists" tab on artists I like, browsing the "discovered on" tab to find playlists. Then, when I like a song from an artist, I usually listen to at least their most recent album.

Last week I found a Russian artist in a playlist I follow and I listened to all their albums. I don’t know how to pronounce their name nor the title of any of their songs, but it was a nice background music for coding since I don’t understand a thing of the language.

You buy albums

You sound like a 'radio' person and I'm a 'record' person.

I don't want to have thousands of different songs floating through my ears. If I'm in the mood for something new, I'll get a recommendation from a friend or an online service, listen to a couple tracks then decide if I should invest more time in the band or just forget about them. Interestingly after a few streams of albums it on Bandcamp, they nag you to buy and it's usually about the time where "yeah, you know, I probably should add this to the collection". Unless finding new music, I always listen by whole albums as the bands decided was best to listen to the tracks, not individual songs--so the numbers you bring up just aren't something I care about. Whole albums are cheaper and if only one track is good on an album, that band not really something I'm interested in.

I'm 10 years ive spent 1000s on vinyl.

In 20 years spent even more on digital.

I have tons of things not available on streaming.

Regardless, the fact my listening gets to be an isolated activity, the fact no one can take it away? Priceless

Depends on your listening habits. If you listen to a few albums a lot, buying the albums absolutely makes sense to make sure you'll always have them.

But for example me, I grew up listing to mixtapes and as a child/teenager spent many weekends in front of my sisters programmable 5 disc CD player to record songs from CDs borrowed from friends to cassette tapes. I never got out of this habit. While some albums I prefer to listen as a whole, in general I favor playlists. Streaming is great for this. Also especially YouTube has a lot of live recordings that aren't released otherwise.

I do buy quite a bit of digital and physical records from independent artist but then listen to them on Spotify. Because the streaming platforms tend to have horrible payment models. This I find much worse, than DRM and lack of ownership.

Pretty much on the money. I'm not a 'playlist' kind of person so this doesn't interest me. I've been able to send a full OGG file to a friend as a recommendation though, which didn't involve sending someone to service.

I'd add versatility to that list too. With DRM free files you can edit songs, remix individual tracks, create mashups of multiple songs, create your own mix-tapes/compilations, use them in your own videos and projects, convert them unto whatever formats you want etc.

They're also amazing for portability. Every phone, desktop PC, laptop and tablet I have can play MP3s, and while most can also run spotify, the same can't be said for all the TVs, DVD/blu-ray players, CD players, ebook readers, and game consoles that support MP3. It must have been an easy bullet point to add to a feature list because I see MP3 and other music formats supported in a huge number of devices. I've seen it supported in GPS navigation devices, alarm clocks, children's toys, workout equipment, and toothbrushes

I'll admit Spotify (and other platforms in a smaller degree) aren't ideal and operate in an ethical gray spot the size of the moon, but the convenience is so hard to beat, it would literally take hours every week to make my music listening experience anywhere near enjoyable.

On the other hand I buy merch and go to concerts as much as I can, but at this point I could actually ditch Spotify and Deezer only if they confess to killing puppies, the difference is that big.

Anyone know of a self hosted audio streaming service that works reasonably well?

As well as some potentially really shady practices. https://youtu.be/whQ8UBoz-To

Is listenbrainz related to "Musicbrains Picard"?

Yes. MusicBrainz is the umbrella project. ListenBrainz is for "scrobbles" (is the name trademarked?) similar to Last.fm and Libre.fm. Because it's an open source and open data project, the broader community can build tools with the data rather than having it hoarded by a corporation to try to sell the data back to users.

Got a favorite source for same? I'm bewildered by too many options and not enough comparisons.

I get my music on Bandcamp, if the artist sells it there. They compensate artists far better than Spotify[1], and offer lossless, DRM-free downloads.

Some major labels don't sell on Bandcamp; for those I often buy the MP3s on Amazon. I don't love Amazon, but they do sell high quality, DRM-free music now.

[1] https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/how-much-more-money-artists-e...

I would also recommend checking Qobuz which is where I find most of my larger label FLAC files.


Not to mention you are not financing spreading lies about covid...

Are there alternatives to Spotify that can only provide me the right information so that I don't have to think by myself?

Just here to share that if you haven't tried Apple Music for its lossless and Dolby Atmos sound quality then you really, really, should.

Apple Music does not have a great UI but it is definitely worth the trade off.

Tidal sounds great, but they make you pay extra for lossless and have a smaller catalogue.

If you can consistently tell the difference between Spotify Premium's 320kbps and Apple Music's lossless, I am very impressed. Most folks reading this won't be able to.

Having used both, I'm now happily paying for Spotify to avoid using the train wreck that is the Apple Music app. It is a true shame what Apple has done to iTunes.

You can definitely hear a difference when the Apple track is using Atmos or spatial audio and your system or headphones support it.

Also, I’m not certain, but I think the tracks that are studio masters are often mixed differently. I’m not sure what it is, maybe greater dynamic range (cd tracks are louder). I think it sounds better.

Even though Apple sounds better, I probably still use Spotify more because the client isn’t as terrible (or at least is terrible in different ways that I’m used to).

Not sure if that’s the question you’re asking but, the Atmos mixes are a completely separate deliverable. They need to be the same length as the original stereo master and obviously shouldn’t deviate so much that they sound like a different piece of music, but there’s a lot of scope. Also, the loudness wars are kind of over now that streaming platforms normalize to a loudness target; if your track is super hot it’s just going to get turned down.

I think it’s less the lossless than the higher bit depth & Atmos adding extra channels.

I’ve been a long time Spotify user but the difference in quality is very perceptible (to me at least) and I find myself using Apple Music a lot more.

Just depends on how you are driving it. I can tell the difference on Homepods, Airpod Max, my car (wired) and few other places, but barely on airpod pros and most other bluetooth headphones. And to the crowd that has their keyboards handy to say "but the airpod max and homepods do not support lossless", you are absolutely right but the quality of the source does make a difference, even though those devices will not be playing lossless, they will still have better quality if the source is better.

I am not completely sure if its the codec Apple uses that is making the difference or if it is because the source is lossless, but bass sounds punchier and instrument separation is much better with Apple Music compared to Spotify's best quality.

I was really looking forward to Spotify's lossless that was announced (I think it's called Spotify HQ?), but I haven't heard about that in a long time.

Edit: If you plug in your Airpod Max with a hardwire cable, the difference is even more noticeable, even with iPhone's internal DAC.

Also want to clarify that the differences and not so pronounced that you will be able to tell right away, but if you listen to Apple Music for a while and try to listen to the same song on Spotify, it will not sound the same. It's one of those cases where you don't know what you don't know till you know it once.

Apple Music is just so increadibly bad UX wise. I have a real hard time justifying paying for it and have considered many times to switch back to Spotify. Trying to find new and interesting music is pretty much impossible outside of the "here's what people listen to now" playlists. You need to know what to look for when searching for things.

Spotify was great for finding indie music bands, and could really give good recommendations. Apple music is not even in the same league.

> Apple Music is just so increadibly bad UX wise.

Is it? When I switched to Apple Music I didn't find it remarkably better or worse then anything else I've used (including Spotify). Reviews (https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/apple-music) don't mention any UX issues either. If you know of any substantive commentary on this I'd appreciate a link.

It is. In my personal experience:

- On Mac, Apple Music will just consistently stop playing audio. Force quitting & restarting fixes it.

- On iOS, the app is prone to crashing more than any iOS app I've seen. It's not horrible (I very rarely see crashing period), but it's far more than 3rd party apps or even Apple's own set.

- On iOS and on a weak connection, Music will not play even if it is downloaded. I suspect it has something to do with DRM servers, but don't know for sure.

- I once changed my iCloud password on my account, and it sent the Apple Music app into an infinite loop of trying to reload content, instead of just prompting for my password again.

- Load times are horrendous for online content, even on fiber connections.

- I don't have many complaints about discoverability, but it's certainly nowhere near Spotify's recommendation engine. Spotify's weekly-updated new music playlist is way more relevant to me than Apple Music's version (New Music Mix).


- I think way more people can tell the difference between Spotify's audio quality and Apple Music's Lossless/Atmos. I sure could, and it was obvious.

>I think way more people can tell the difference between Spotify's audio quality and Apple Music's Lossless/Atmos. I sure could, and it was obvious.

But have you blind A/B tested this with a third party? I don't mean to be combative, but the audiophile community is ripe with this kind of thing. People claiming that a speaker cable (or sometimes even a power cable) gives them better quality audio.

And then once you blindfold them and ask them to tell which is which, suddenly the differences aren't so clear.

I mean it's obviously purely anecdotal, but I would by no means consider myself an audiophile. I use Airpods Max at my desk and Airpods Pros during my run, and that's about it.

I would love to see someone do this experiment though, maybe I am an audiophile and didn't even know it.

You need not fear, for if you were an audiophile there is no way you could use Airpods.

Your perceived change in audio quality is more likely to be placebo in the justification of your own platform choices. Spotify high quality is certainly transparent on the equipment you use, as the drivers in those headphones are physically unable to provide enough detail to show any differences between that and lossless.

Anecdotal, purely in my personal experience I have never once ever had Apple Music crash on any of my devices. This is across multiple generations of MacBooks, iPhone, and including CarPlay. Nor have I ever had it just stop playing music. Strange.

I switched to Apple Music from Spotify just because I don't like podcasts mixed in with my music, and UI that constantly advertises their podcasts side.

The improved sound quality on Apple Music is a major benefit, and I was able to add all my music that isn't in their library (and sync across devices).

I also love that upcoming albums that drip feed new tracks aren't categorized as EPs like Spotify does it. I can view the track in the upcoming album on Apple Music, add the album to my library, and then get notifications as they add more tracks or release the album.

Apple Music's macOS app UI is terrible, no way around that. They're supposedly making some parts of it native in a future macOS release though.

Might I recommend you check out the Cider client? I've been using it for a while and its pretty decent.

Oh neat! Been looking for a better Windows client. I'll check it out.

Reminder that Apple pays artists better too (average penny per stream over Spotify's average 3-4 tenths of a penny per stream).

And that Spotify is led by people who think artists who want that level of compensation are "entitled":


I don't believe Apple pays better out of the goodness of their own hearts. It seems much more likely that they pay more because that's what they need to pay to get artists on to their platform.

Apple posted profits of $34.6 billion last quarter. Use whatever service is most convenient for you, but I take umbrage with trying to paint a trillion dollar corporation as altruistic for paying a penny per stream to a musician.

But its not like Spotify is making billions off the artists. They barely break even. Their margins are very very tiny in the first place.

Obviously Apple can afford to pay a lot lot more. Now obviously you can say that if they can't afford it they shouldn't be in business, but you can say the exact same for the record labels/artists. They can just pull their songs from Spotify.

Labels are their own problem for sure, and Apple has advantages over Spotify (I'd guess they mostly come from the fact that Apple can run its digital distribution infrastructure at a profit even without music altogether).

I don't have any sympathy for Spotify, though. No one has done more than they have to create the price point expectations for products like theirs. They should have known it wasn't enough. They probably did know and like most growth phase startups simply decided to care until later if ever, and any negative enduring impacts on artists be damned.

>No one has done more than they have to create the price point expectations for products like theirs.

I think Napster/Limewire/Kazaa were far greater influences on price point expectations for Music. This reads like complete erasure of music distribution from 1999-2011. Not to mention you already have companies like Rdio and Grooveshark that were pretty much squeezed to death by the labels.

Yes, Advertising is a poor way to monetize such a service (just look at Pandora), but Apple is in a privileged position being able to start today with a subscription only service; one that is enforced by their market position in devices. There is no way you could have pulled that off in 2008, and the reason for that was piracy.

> I think Napster/Limewire/Kazaa were far greater influences on price point expectations for Music.

Unauthorized copies have been a fact of life not only through the dawn of the P2P era but back through the cassette era. And you don't even have to get into the ethics of that in order to understand that none of them ever set price point expectations. Everyone involved in that activity ultimately understood that they were not participating in economically supporting the artist (or indeed, in any economic transaction at all). Everyone was clear on the accounting.

Spotify adopted an economic model marginally different from piracy but with the veneer of a legitimate economic transaction, the pretense of some kind of proper accounting.

So yeah. It absolutely did more to set price point expectations.

> Rdio and Grooveshark

Rdio and Grooveshark are weird examples to pull in, Rdio because it was always too late and too small to have really made that much of a difference, Grooveshark because it started life as more of a P2P tool. What's next, pointing out the missed relevance of audioscrobbler/last.fm?

> There is no way you could have pulled that off in 2008, and the reason for that was piracy.

The primary reason you couldn't have pulled that off in 2008 was economic contraction, not piracy.

If you actually look at the RIAA sales history figures you can see it:


The total sales volume peaks quite clearly coincide more with macroeconomic trends than technical trends. CDs get huge during the "irrational exuberance" of the 90s. It dips with the dot-com crash, but even with P2P taking off like crazy and digital retail barely getting off the ground, the amount of money going into CDs is more flat than downward ... until 2007, of course, and everyone knows what happened then. And the recent primary huge revenue growth in streaming has coincided with periods of big economic growth.

And you can also see the story in there of digital retail growth from 2004... up until streaming cannibalized that.

>Everyone involved in that activity ultimately understood that they were not participating in economically supporting the artist (or indeed, in any economic transaction at all).

I don't believe you can present this decision as independent of piracy and business model. The reason for Spotify's abysmal payouts compared to Apple's has to do with the _business model_. Advertising is an awful way to pay to content when it comes to music especially when you have to placate labels. You are making it seem Spotify just kept the money for themselves, when there simply wasn't that much money to go around.

>Rdio and Grooveshark are weird examples to pull in

I bring them up (and include Pandora) because they had the functionally the same business model; to appease labels by giving them advertising revenue. It didn't work because the revenue wasn't there.

>The primary reason you couldn't have pulled that off in 2008 was economic contraction, not piracy.

Spotify was founded in 2006; and launched in the US in 2011 (the same year Limewire shutdown). You could not have launched a successful, subscription only streaming service the year limewire shutdown. Your chart is a great resource - look how tiny the "On Demand Streaming (Ad supported)" revenue bar is; that is the "money pool" most artists are drawing from when they get paid from Spotify.

To summarize, Spotify's payouts are historically terrible and will continue to be terrible for as long as they continue to support their free product. The advertising market just isn't there, and all those free users depress the pay per streams that Spotify provides. Spotify's "price expectation" was driven by the fact they likely needed to launch with a free ad supported product or they would have never succeeded in the competition with piracy. Apple now enjoys only having to compete with Spotify, and not with Limewire, and doesn't have to offer a free product. With a much larger revenue pool to draw from, per stream, their numbers naturally look better than Spotifys.

The effects of piracy cannot be discounted; even Jobs practically built iTunes and the iPod on the backs of piracy.

> Spotify adopted an economic model marginally different from piracy but with the veneer of a legitimate economic transaction, the pretense of some kind of proper accounting.

How does your critique of Spotify not apply to Apple? They lack a free/ads tier, and claim to pay a bit more to artists. Does this fundamentally change the fact that they’re still /streaming/?

/Streaming/ itself isn't the problem. The problem is the /payouts/. Retail revenues were replaced with fractional revenues more suitable for broadcast. That makes life economically more difficult for musicians.

So my critique could apply to Apple in approximately the ratio between their payouts and Spotify's (averaging around $.01 to $.004).

I would also point out that Apple's scheme starts to get into territory that looks reasonable-ish as a replacement for recording retail. Ask yourself how many plays you're likely to get out of a single you buy. If my recall of my iTunes history is any indication, it probably averages out to around 50. $1.00 a track, 70% to artist, that's right around a penny per play.

Of course, there's a short peak (opposite of long tail) of more individually popular tracks that people will play hundreds of times. Those the economics probably works out down in the tenth-of-a-penny range. But even then, retail incentives were better -- front-loading payouts creates a situation where new-music-creation is incentivized more heavily, leading you to be more likely to have more from your favorite artists if there's more to make.

I think it’s unfair to say they barely break even, if they do then it’s because they’ve decided to spend so much.

Looking externally at the company they’re listed as having 50,000-100,000 employees. That’s a lot of people to employ for a audio streaming service.

I also happen to know their cloud commitments (I know a guy) and they are large enough that it starts to make a lot of sense to invest into physical hardware.

I’m talking so much money per year that it rivals the GDP of some countries.

>Looking externally at the company they’re listed as having 50,000-100,000 employees

Uhhhh. Do you mean Apple or Spotify? Spotify's 2021 Q4 press release says:

>At the end of Q4, our workforce consisted of 7,690 FTEs globally.

I actually meant Spotify, I must have misread something and I’m off by an order of magnitude, LinkedIn says 10,500~ people who have Spotify as an employee on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/spotify/

Cause they can manipulate the market and don't have to give 30% of their income to an unchecked monopoly

Apple Music’s best feature for me is its real focus on building up your own library. On top of that, it integrates seamlessly with iTunes in the Cloud. Using the same app, I can stream anything from my iTunes library, which includes a decent amount of music not available on any DSP.

I am a pretty big Apple Stuff Fan. Have owned their stuff since my first translucent baby/aqua blue iMac. Including laptops I've purchased for kids headed to school over the years, I think I've purchased 8 laptops and 4 iMacs.

I did Spotify for a year. Then I did Apple Music for a year. Family plan both times for the whole family. I switched back to Spotify after a year of Apple.

Spotify let me catalog, and find music better. The rest of the family agreed.

I found this BYU Divine Comedy amateur sketch to sum it all up pretty well. Particularly the Apple experience parody: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvqcNBksCXE

I’d prefer to use AM but they’re lacking an ability like Spotify’s to play to Google Home devices and device groups. We use that feature daily, and I highly doubt Apple will ever support broadcasting to Chromecasts.

random sample but i try this every couple of years - both tidal and apple music do not have 10 songs in today's release radar list available.

the tidal client is nearly as bad as spotifys too

The android app of apple music is terrible though. I've tried using it for a month but had constant trouble with it getting stuck loading searches or artists. I've switched to tidal a few days ago, and that seems to have odd issues with buffering (despite having stable 6MB/s downloads with steam).

I'd bet my next paycheck you wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a blind test.


> lossless and Dolby Atmos sound quality

General headphone recommendation? Best I have is an MDR-7506 but I don't think it's meant for listening rather producing.

I currently own the Sennheiser hd 650's[1] with a Schiit amp[2] and absolutely love the combo. I also have them on a harman curve. You can get the HD 6xx from Massdrop for cheaper and it's the exact same driver[3]. My partner uses the Sennheiser 58x's[4] as well as she doesn't like to use an amp and they are probably the greatest bang for your buck I've come across.

[1] https://en-us.sennheiser.com/high-quality-headphones-around-...




Thanks that'll probably be a next model up, it's up there in price for me.

Will keep it in mind I'll compare the 58x to DT 77 although open backs limit usage for me I think (not have other people hear my music).

Looks like the 58x is better than DT 77 though without using eq

This one of those things drives you insane so many choices

Yeap... I went with Sennheiser 560S and I'm not pleased lol compared to the 7506 that I've been using for over a year. The 560S everything sounds blended.

Will give them a chance/listen for a bit. Just funny you get this obsession like "I gotta buy it" then disappointed.

Depends on price range. DT 770 PRO's would be a nice step up and serve both purposes pretty well. They're over-ear like your MDR's. You can usually find them on sale for like $140-160 USD

Fairly neutral response (dunno if you'd prefer something bassier for listening) and very comfortable

Yeah I don't really have any specific demands other than it is meant for music... I bought these ATH-MX-20/40X from reviews and apparently they're monitoring headphones?... so yeah. Those are definitely flat.

Thanks I'll put those on a list. Definitely one of those things have to try on in person to buy but recommendations help too.

Edit: not too bassy actually, neutral would be nice like works for almost anything.

I use these for both without issue.

It is nice for being able to pick out specific sound, it's very clear. The downside I think about is the treble/how "too loud" the highs are sometimes.

With some of the banal EDM that's out there now, some retro 1980s walkman headphones would do.

Would do for... What, exactly?

Amazon Music Unlimited also has it included in their catalog. How does Apple's fare against Amazon's?

I have no interest in paying one of the large American tech giants for my music. They already control too much, and music is a side business for them.

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