Spotify – My Cost per Minute

On a per minute basis, Spotify is the cheapest application I use

My favorite application – Spotify – sent me a note today with my listening stats for the year.  I think when people hear me say Spotify is my favorite app and that I listen to it all the time, they don’t understand just how much I enjoy it – or the utility I get out of it (if I can use that word in this context).

How much do I listen to Spotify?  The objective answer to that question requires some math.  How many minutes are there in a year?  There are 365 days in the year, with 24 hours in each with 60 minutes in each of those hours.  Without considering leap days and other obscuria, there are 525,600 minutes in a year.

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Spotify is telling me I spent nearly 10% of 2016 consuming their service.  Specifically, the service reports I spend 53,235 minutes this year.  I enjoy the curated playlists, and I have a few to which I keep coming back.  I have the kind of job where I’m either in a meeting or sitting at my desk. When I’m at my desk, I commonly have Spotify on.  It’s not surprising then to know that most of my time on the service occurs during the week.

I won’t tell you how much I spend annually on online services.  It’s embarrassing and worse you’d tell my wife, and she would be angry with me.  But I will say I pay for a handful of services, some of which cost more than $100/year.  I guarantee none of those other services will ever tell me how many minutes (or transactions or any other metric) I consume from their service.  They won’t tell me because they want to continue to receive my money and I would probably stop doing so if I ever learned how little value I get for them.

I pay $15/month or $180/year.  I’m sure you can see where I’m going.  I spend approximately .3 cents/minute. Read that closely.  That’s 3/10 of one cent.  But wait you say, the $15/month rate is for the family service.  Why are you paying that much?  My family all use the service.  I doubt any of them use as many minutes as I do, but that per minute spend rate is only going to go down as I add my families minutes to the equation.

Let’s put that rate in context with the alternative approaches to consuming music – chiefly radio and purchasing the songs directly.

According to Spotify, this year I listened to 2,543 individual tracks from 2,392 unique artists.  iTunes sells most songs for 99 cents with more popular songs going selling for as much as $1.29.  None of the songs I listen to are popular in a contemporary sense, so I’ll just use the smaller amount.  That math is easy.  2,543 songs would have cost me $2,517.

The math for the radio is much harder and requires many more assumptions.  I don’t pay for radio (assuming you don’t count the cost of the radio in my car or on my desk).  First, I would have to find some combination of local radio stations which play my preferred music.  Assuming that’s the case, I would then need to factor in the number of minutes of advertisements I would need to add to the total time it would take to cover the songs to which I listen.  I’ll assume that in any given hour on the radio that fifteen minutes are consumed with ads and on-air personality radio chatter.  Now, I’m listening to the radio for 66,543 minutes to hear all 2,543 of those songs.  My time is worth something, even if that’s not always apparent from the ways in which I choose to spend it.  Let’s make the math easy and say an hour of my time is worth only $10. The additional 220 hours I spend listening to ads would then cost me $2,200.

Well worth the money.

Modern Gothic Blues

I really enjoy Jamie N Commons’ style.

I’m sitting at work listening to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist while finishing up some audit work.  I commonly listen to less engaging material while I work so I can focus on the work but I felt like some variety this morning.  Most of the playlist is forgettable – but I will credit the curators with the inclusion of Jamie N Commons.

Any performer categorized as Modern Gothic Blues has to sit in a pretty narrow niche.  I’ll follow the path into the Related Artists Spotify recommends but I’m guessing he has very few contemporaries.  His voice is compared to Tom Waits – and I get that, but the variety of styles he successfully synthesizes with the Blues is separate from my experience with Waits.

I’m not certain which of his songs to recommend – but I’ll go with the latest from the performer.  Glory.


Best Covers: I Put a Spell On You

Watching The Voice this evening.  The show is not engaging enough for me to simply watch without a distraction.

One of the performers (Rob Taylor) covered “I put a spell on you“.  He’s a capable performer but I’ve heard better version of the classic.  In our family, the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler is a seasonal must-see. We all watch it together and because we’ve seen it so many times we can anticipate the actor’s lines.  Bette covers the song very well.  It’s a great Blue’s classic and like all songs in this genre – the best song connects emotionally through the vocals.

I decided to abuse my Spotify account and try to figure out who sang it best.  Pretty much everyone has covered this song.

I think Annie Lennox is a phenomenal performer – but hers is not the best version in my eyes.  Jesse Cook – one of my favorite (but more obscure performers) has  a great version.  Even Marilyn Manson has a version which I like it until the performer insists on singing.

David Gilmour (with Mica Paris) covers the song.  Because it’s David Gilmour, it’s hard not to focus on the guitar styling he brings to everything he does.  Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana create a similar experience – you just can’t escape a guitar virtuoso.  They own anything in which they are featured.  It becomes a guitar performance.

My three favorite performers are Manfred Mann, Joe Cocker, and Pete Townshend.  They all three approach the song as a Blues Standard.  Each adds a unique element.  Manfred Mann is a smooth blues singer.  Joe Cocker is raw and emotional.  Pete Townshend is a polished, nuanced blues singer.

Here’s my favorite:

P.S. I’m not a fan of the honky-tonk versions performed by Leon Russell and Sam Bush.  That just does not work.  People also want to perform this as a jazz standard.  And God save us all, there’s even a Disco version of the song by some obscure group called The Hershey Barr Band.  I’m good with artists re-interpreting songs, but I don’t think this song can be done better in a different style.  It’s a Blues standard and is done best in that style.

P.S.  While I appreciate that Jay Hawkins authored the classic and was the original performer – his performances haven’t matched those who have covered his original work.

Spotify Music Embedding

I’m really enjoying Spotify.  A few days back I asked the Internet for their music streaming service recommendation.

My subscription to Rhapsody is to be renewed in four days and this gives me a chance to re-evaluate my service choice without incurring additional costs.  As you can see in the comments above, the hive mind believes Spotify is the best choice – even with some prodding towards Rdio.   Spotify is definitely a step up from Rhapsody in a few ways including selection, interface and the ability to share music – such as below:

My Odd Musical Tastes

As I grow older, I’ve grown to appreciate the way that music can energize, soothe and change my mood.  It’s probably surprising to friends and family, but I have become a big fan of Electronica.  What I like about it is that it helps me to stay focused and energized while I’m sitting at my desk at work.

I grew up listening to traditional rock from bands like Led Zeppelin, Boston, Aerosmith, etc.  In the late 80’s I started listening to New Age music to help take the edge off a very stressful period (new wife, child, and job while pursuing an MBA).  I still enjoy both forms of music – but at this point in my life, my greatest challenge is maintaining a laser focus. What I need in workplace music is an absence of distraction while helping maintain an energy level.  Rock music is far too engaging for me – I want to understand the lyrics and engage emotionally.  Lyrics are not commonly a problem with New Age music, but it’s not consistently energetic.  Electronica is high energy and instrumental (in the broad sense of the word).  I can put my ear buds in and focus on desk work.

I have close relatives who probably don’t understand this choice.  It’s counter to the tastes of my generation.  I guess very few 40 somethings choose to listen to Electronica.  But if you review my play list, there is no denying where I spend my time.

For your listening pleasure, I have included one of my current favorites.  Yea, I know.  It’s not what you would have expected.  (short link)