Simple, easy, obvious. (Or: Why spotify lost me in 2 minutes.)

So a while back some rabid fanboy was all like “You’ve got to try Spotify! Best thing since bread in less-than-loaf sizes!” so I got myself an account, realized I had to download some app, wasn’t in a position to do so, and never came back. What is this thing? Not really sure. “Like Pandora” I’ve been told. “Social Music” seems to be a term used.

Okay, but it gets better. I get an email from someone who I’d actually be interested in sharing “social music” with, so okay, you win. I’m at a computer, I have the app, let’s log in!

Spotify demands your username, not your email!


Sorry Spotify, 1997 called. They said they heard you were using usernames instead of email addresses and they wanted to mock you for being behind the times. What. The. Hell? I’m tired of remembering usernames! Someone has always already chosen my favorite username of “josh_the_greatest_dude_ever”, so unless you feel like reserving that for me please make your service use my email address as a login. (Especially now that my keychain isn’t going to sync between my macs, usernames are OUT, but that’s another rant.)

Failure 2: Facebookery.

I know, I’m the only person in the whole of the multiverse who doesn’t use facebook. And if you believe that you should get out of the internet business, especially if you’re trying for “social”. So, now that I finally recovered my username and got logged in I find a really oversized facebook logo in what appear to be the section where I should be able to add the friends I want to interact with. Tell me, did they actually pay you for that much advertising space, or are you just that desperate to suck up? (“Zuck’ up” perhaps? In any case I think we know where you got the “Spotify is so good!” Zuckerberg quote emblazoned on your site.)

So… apparently I’m completely cut off from social interaction due to my lack of a facebook login. I’m immediately cut off from the one thing I was actually sort of interested in: seeing what my friends are listening to. Whoops.

Interaction Failures of the third kind

I’ve finally logged in, found out I’m a one-man island, but I’m not yet completely discouraged. Let’s see what else this thing does for me!

Well, I’m really not sure. Apparently it scans my “Library”, which since I’m using it on the laptop and not the desktop is empty. I’m greeted by a screen that says I can “take my music anywhere” by plugging in my phone. (Which, since it goes with me everywhere seems potentially redundant to me?) I have an “inbox” where music that is “sent to me” will arrive. (One supposes it will be sent via those friends I have on facebo… oops.) There’s a nice “top lists” tab, which confirms for me that the world at large has absolutely no taste in music, but I already knew that.

Here’s the lesson Spotify. Don’t assume that your users know what your app does. Also: You’re probably not quite yet to that level where you don’t actually have to explain yourself to anyone.

For the record:

No, I’m not an idiot. Yes, I’ve managed to deduce that spotify scans your iTunes and somehow makes all your music available to you in a streaming format. No, I’m probably not going to use it as I’m just not seeing the value in it based on this brief experience. All the music I need rides around with me on my myriad iDevices. Maybe when I break free of the apple ecosystem this will… oh wait, no linux/web version? Nope, it’ll be just as useless then too.

But really, what this whole post was about, what really got my goat, was that error screen. “You must use your username, not your email address”. Seriously? 1997. Somewhere in my snobby little mind that tells me exactly what breed and level of designers and developers you are. Is that the snobbiest and most stuck up thing I could think? Probably. But it’s not completely wrong either, not even close.