CMND/CTRL: November 2012

By Tom Aylott

Spotify Web Player

We held back on this month’s CMND/CTRL piece a little because we knew something was coming that would have to take centre stage. Over the weekend, that something arrived. Many existing and potential Spotify users have decried the service’s lack of a browser based player, and until recently the company had rather closed doors on the matter. In September, tech blogs started reporting that the company were finally getting around to launching a web player, and the Beta version is now live viaย

It’s worth noting here that the player is not a browser based copy of the Spotify client (as you may have gathered from the image above) as much as it is similar to the iPad client. With that out of the way, the design here is slick and the listening experience is enjoyable, but the lack of advanced features may prevent it being a viable alternative for some.

Still, a Beta version is just that, and there’s little reason to suggest Spotify are trying to make something as full featured as their flagship client for browsing – and why would they? Making something different would always be something beneficial to them to encourage different kinds of users, and all the right pieces are in place; playlist creation is simple, searching and browsing is straightforward, and the social features should creep in as time goes on.

Excluding the fact you don’t need to download Spotify to listen to music on Spotify any more – which some may say is a fairly “Apple” revolution to come to service as they trail many rivals here – the big, exciting thing here is the potential. Spotify are very smart in their marketing, and take their time over launches. Their API has constantly made them the best of breed, and I’d love to see the hint that this new web player will lead to a new web API being realised. We use the current API here to call album players on album reviews, and should the embeddable players become playable without a downloaded client (don’t expect this too soon), then things should get very interesting.

The little matter of how much online streaming services pay out to artists is long from resolved, but while people squabble over the merits of shunning this technology altogether, the industry will move forward. Many will remain unsatisfied by the premise of online streaming and of the current business models associated with companies like Spotify regardless of the cool toys they produce, but the industry is changing for the better – even if it hurts right now.

If you’d like to try it, you can do a cheeky circumvention of the current sign up restrictions by clicking here.

iPad Mini

In other news, I recently invested in an iPad Mini. Despite the pisstaking and cries of “POINTLESS APPLE CASH IN”, I have nothing but praise for it. I didn’t like the iPad because it was too big for me to really want to use it as a smaller computing solution, but calling it a big iPhone needs a headcheck. The main reasons for mentioning this here is that I will be investing in some iRig hardware to test out the iPad Mini as a recording device over Christmas.

Jam With Chrome

Finally this month, I was pointed in the direction of Jam With Chrome. It’s an awesome experiment into collaborative online music play, and see you and your friends take control of a bunch of virtual instruments.

Obviously, there’s a slight problem with lagging and the sync is never quite perfect with things like this, but as a visual experiment it’s hard to really slate it. It’s a bit of a distraction rather than a music composition revolution, but a great peek into the future of music webapps.

Next month, I’ll be doing a Christmas gift suggestion list for aspiring musicians and music fans alike. It’s the time of year where parents have no idea what to buy their satan / Chuck Ragan worshipping children, so we’re aiming to help them and you out with some ideas. If you’ve got anything you think should be on that list (of any kind), please give me an email at and I’ll take a look into it… See you in December!