A brief stint with Spotify

Motivated by better integrations with Sonos and a desire for a more unified local/streaming music experience on Android, I decided to make the switch from Roon/Tidal to Spotify. My wife already had an account and so switching to a Duo account made a lot of sense. After some disagreement with the way Spotify was operating itself, my wife and I decided to both move to Tidal, which brought me back to Roon a few months later. It’s given me some new perspective on the two and so I thought I’d share some of my findings:

  1. I’m not as picky about sounds quality as I thought. I had always told myself that I can tell the difference between lossless and lossy music. And maybe once in a great while, I could tell the Spotify songs were not as high of quality, but it was incredibly rare. In either case, it didn’t change my enjoyment of the music.

  2. Roon’s way of showing albums is second to none. I did miss browsing through an album view in a nice interface. I also missed the album details page. What is offered by Spotify is just not designed for exploring a collection of albums. And there is no way to sort by release date! This drove me nuts. Spotify (and Tidal’s own interface for that matter) seem to rely much more heavily on search.

  3. That brings me to my next point: Roon’s search functionality leaves a lot to be desired. If I was in Spotify, search could figure out what I was looking for with just a few characters with uncanny accuracy. On the other hand, Roon’s search often prefers to show me things not even in my library over things that are in my library. If I’m searching for a song by its exact title and I have one song in my library with that title, it should be the first result in search. Most of the time, it is not. I got used to the benefits of search in the switch to Spotify and I’m finding it frustrating now that I’m back to Roon.

  4. Spotify’s queue semantics are much harder to understand. If I started playing an album, then played a separate track, then played another album, it was very confusing how the albums and tracks got mixed. Sometimes it would jump back to the first album after one track, sometimes it wouldn’t. I’m sure there is some rhyme or reason to it, but Roon’s more explicit control over this makes it much easier to understand.

  5. Spotify’s supposed ability to work with both local music and streaming music in the same interface on mobile does not live up to the promise. I have both local music on my phone and use streaming. I have to use two apps for this on my phone. Spotify supposedly allows one to download local music on to the phone and access it within Spotify, but it is much more clunky than I had hoped. You can only access it by creating a playlist on the desktop with the songs you want and then downloading that playlist to the phone. The playlist’s search capabilities are limited, so finding a single album on that list is very difficult. I ultimately had to keep using two apps on my phone, which reduced the benefit of Spotify greatly. I’d still love to see a Roon mobile app that doesn’t require a separate core to operate.

  6. Spotify does have a larger music collection. In the move back to Tidal, I lost some albums. Most of them I still owned, but a few I did not, so I will have to acquire those albums elsewhere.

So those are the main differences I noticed. I’m happy to be back to in a lot of ways. However, Roon does have some work to do on search to make it usable. Roon also has an opportunity to get ahead of the game by offering a good mobile experience that is unified across local and streaming music.

  1. This is probably the main reason why I think it makes sense to pay for Roon, even if you’re just using it as a frontend for Qobuz or Tidal – the album-based library view is just unparalleled both in technical & UX implementation. E.g. Tidal’s own apps completely choke if you have massive amount of albums favorited, and there’s no proper way to browse that via genres or decades etc…

  2. For some reason I’ve also never been able to wrap by head around on the play queue logic on any other music app than Roon, where things are explicitly clear and I always know what will happen and which action adds stuff to the top vs bottom.


Happy to see I am not the only one who can’t wrap my head around the queue function in Spotify. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


That’s a very nice summary that pretty much tallies with my experience and feelings as someone else who occasionally reinstates a Spotify subscription ’ just to see how it is developing’.

The only other thing that I can think of - it may relate to that ‘uncanny accuracy’ you mention for search - is it’s ability to supply me with pre-cooked ‘individualised’ playlists that appear amazingly pleasing for my taste - although I started to suspect that part of the trickery is to include a lot of cover versions of tracks I had picked or favourited myself, but executed by other, often technically accomplished, artists. Nothing wrong with that, but gets perhaps a little limited after a while. Or more plausibly, my taste is just not as eclectic as I would want to believe and it drives Spotify’s algorithms to desperate measures :sob:.

I’ve read that Spotify tailors recommendations in a way that is seeks to minimize licensing fees for the recommended content. If you’re aiming for “the cheapest thing that the user won’t reject”, I can see why cover recordings by less popular artists are bubbling up.

Oh, and hey @kamal_aboulhosn , and thanks for the feedback :wave: . We are indeed working on all of that stuff :slight_smile: .