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Sunday, October 6, 2013

How I ditched Spotify Premium in favor of Google Play Music?

I've been a subscriber of Spotify Premium for quite a while now. Unfortunately during the last few months there have been some technical glitches. One time I had to downgrade my client as a new version hogged all the memory. This was fixed of course but it definitely didn't leave a good impression.

Google Play Music became available for Finland just last week. The VIP service seems comparable to Spotify Premium. And it costs less (7.99 vs 9.99 euros) per month. Spotify offers Unlimited package for 4.99 euros per month but that doesn't come with the highest quality or mobile support.

This was perfect excuse for me to give Google Play Music a go. I have not encountered any glitches yet. In some cases music selection seems superior to Spotify even though it is missing some of my favorite records likely due to contractual reasons. It uses a web based player. This comes with a gotcha, though. You won't be able to use playback controls by default.

Fortunately it is fairly easy to work around this. In order to avoid having the web player in one of my tabs, I use a specific Panel View plugin. It can be activated easily using an icon. As I am on OS X, it is possible to use Automator to trigger certain AppleScript and bind that to some keyboard shortcut. Unfortunately it is not possible to bind the media keys directly. Instead you have to do something clever.

Here's a basic recipe on how to get it work:
  1. Install Charles Wilkinson's scripts as instructed on his blog post
  2. Install KeyRemap4MacBook - Don't worry, it works on other OS X systems as well, not just MacBook
  3. Bind the new services provided by Charles' script to F7, F8 and F9 (fn-media key)
  4. Activate "Music Controls to F7,F8,F9" at KeyRemap4MacBook
If everything went fine, you should have a nice setup now. You might want to study the scripts before installing them. It's always nice to know what you are running.

This gives me experience comparable to Spotify for a cheaper price. So far I have not encountered any problems. Getting the hotkeys to work just makes it better. There are likely ways to do something similar on other systems as well.