logoYesterday, due to a colleague’s twitter entry, I came across Spotify, It’s a free music streamer that is frankly – amazing. I’m not often amazed. The things that make it amazing are:

  • The content from artists that is available – for nothing – I struggled to not find anything – just randomly I found the last single from Kings of Leon, plus older stuff from BB King, U2, Hendrix, etc. There’s material not available, like the well known case of the Beatles etc. But basically, you are never going to run out of things to listen to, and it’s growing all the time. It also made me realise that there is a lot of really cack music out there from years gone by…
  • The speed at which is connects and streams. None of this “Buffering 34%…” nonsense that we’re all used to. Even over a 3G connection it feels like all the music is local on your hard disk. It needs about 160kbps.

And that got me to thinking about how this was all possible. It seems to me that a very large part of it is down to the astonishing achievements of the open source movement – the world really has changed:

  • The codec is open source from http://www.xiph.org/vorbis/.
  • A whole host of open source code is referenced from the product documentation – zlib and others for compression etc
  • Sourceforge.net and other tools to support development
  • Obviously it is key that the license for the music is open also (for streaming, not download)

The other key change here is the ubiquitous availability of bandwidth of course. Let’s hope they can make some money out of it and keep it going. I can see that people really would cough up some cash every month to have access to this as an ad-free service…