Though its on-demand offerings steal the show, music service Spotify does offer radio-like features. Dubbed “Artist Radio,” the service automatically generates a playlist of music similar to a specified artist. The feature wasn’t initially included in Spotify’s U.S. launch (apprently due to licensing issues, more here).
Artist Radio aims to be a lean-back experience in what is otherwise a lean-in environment. The service does accomplish this, though feels half-baked. The UI is unappealing and the features are lacking when compared to other on-demand music services’ radio offerings.
For example, Spotify’s playlists are completely (and sometimes embarrassingly) random, occasionally playing tracks meant to be near-silent intervals in albums. Repeats are surprisingly common. Users can only see a few songs in advance and can’t remove any tracks from being heard (both features offered in competitior Rdio’s radio offerings, more here).
And although users can skip forward and backward, they’re limited to 10 hours of free ad-supported listening a month — one-fourth that offered by Pandora.
Spotify does offer a long list of the artists included in the Artist Radio stream, making it quite easy to run off — abandoning Artist Radio — and listen to something new on-demand.
In the end though, Spotify’s Artist Radio feels like an after-thought, only there to appease a user tired of searching for exactly what music to listen to. But that user would have to, for whatever reason, be unwilling to switch over to one of the many half-decent lean-back radio services on the Internet that offer better playlists and more free listening time.
Spotify’s Artist Radio is dwarfed by rival on-demand services in features and by Internet radio services in quality. — MS