For years at this point, I’ve completely weaned myself off of owning physical music and/or a library of individually-purchased albums. For me, it was Google Play Music that sealed the deal and moved me from a place of simple interest in streaming music to a full-blown reliance on it. It took some time, but Google giving me the option to upload my entire music library (which was about 15,000 songs for me at the time) to my Google Play Music account helped me along quite a bit. Once I was sure my personal library was secure, I was OK with leaning on a stream or two to fill out my collection when needed.
It didn’t take long for me to see the massive upside in what amounts to a limitless music library for a small monthly fee, and before I knew it, I was choosing the Play Music version of albums over my own, personally-uploaded music more often than not. 6 months into it, realizing that everything I owned was already available online, I completely forgot about my personal collection and went all-in on streaming music. The rest is history.
Spotify arrived, but I wasn’t convinced
Google Play Music was it for me for quite some time thanks to different bundled subscription options over the years. I dabbled here and there, but I really enjoyed Google’s take on streaming music. Over time, more competition arrived, and with the arrival of Spotify across all major platforms in the US, things started to shift. Spotify had more brand awareness and more users, and before I knew it, I was tempted to try it out for myself.
That didn’t last long, though, and rather than pay an additional fee each month for Spotify, I quickly jumped back to Google Play Music. Even through the rough patches of the transition to YouTube Music, I only tried out Spotify one other time and was quickly turned off by their lackluster casting abilities. It was just too hit-or-miss for my use since casting to the office speakers is one of my primary use cases for streaming audio. For better or worse, I stuck with Google Play Music and YouTube Music through the thick and thin. Well, until recently.
A Tesla changed it for me
I recently purchased a Tesla Model Y (I got a really sweet deal on a used one) and one of the built-in streaming services is Spotify. That’s not surprising, really, as Spotify is by far the most-used, most-popular streaming music provider in the world. Sure there are well-known players like Apple Music and Tidal, but their reach is nowhere close to Spotify’s user base; and that means the app is supported in tons of places by tons of hardware.
So, long story short, if I wanted quick access to music in my new vehicle, the simplest path forward was Spotify. Our own Joe Humphrey has been using it of late and has had nothing but good things to say, so I thought it might finally be time for me to give it a go once again. And I’m very glad I did.
Not only do I have all the music I could ever want at my fingertips while driving, I’m now getting to experience what is by far and away the best casting/multi-device playback I’ve ever seen. It’s not just an improved casting stability compared to my earlier Spotify experiences; this is cloud-based audio source management the way it always should have been. No longer am I guessing what device is casting to my speakers or whether or not my audio is going to emanate from a Chromebook, my phone or my speakers. Instead, I have precise control at all times now. Let me explain.
Spotify handles device switching like a boss
With a service like YouTube Music, I can cast my session from my Chromebook (most times) and if I open the YouTube Music app on my phone when away from my desk, I can click on the cast button and sometimes get connected to the cast session. Sometimes what’s playing will populate on the phone, but other times it will simply take over the cast from the new device. Sometimes that will simply silence things and other times it will begin playback of whatever is queued up on the newly-connected device. It kinda works, but it also kinda doesn’t.
With Spotify, however, I have the ability to see the device my music is playing back on and switch that output to my liking. For instance, right now I’m casting a low-fi groove playlist on my Pixel Watch and on my watch alone: no phone app necessary. However, with no real effort, I can opt to shift that audio to my Chromebook, to my Pixel 7 Pro, or to a speaker group. Because of the way Spotify handles where the music goes on their end, this makes selecting an output device dead simple.
Where casting my music was a hindrance while using Spotify in the past, they have now created something insanely useful with this feature that no other cast-enabled music service has managed to. It’s so well-connected that I can leave the office with music playing from my Spotify account and pick up right where I left off when I get home. And the same is true if I start music elsewhere and head over to the office. Simply put, it just works like you’d expect every single time.
No longer am I left guessing where my music is playing or how I can take over a cast session. With Spotify’s setup, it is clear and concise and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with it so far. And that’s not to mention the vast catalog of music available, the brilliantly curated playlists and recommendations on tap, and the inclusion of the largest podcast collection on the planet as well. All-in-all, it’s been a very positive switch.
If this excellent user experience continues, I don’t think there’s any going back for me at this point. Spotify offers everything I’m looking for in a music streaming service, and though I do have YouTube Music as part of my YouTube Premium subscription, the benefits of having Spotify are enough that I’m OK with paying for it as well. And that kind of says it all, doesn’t it?
Instead of sitting back and playing things safe, Spotify has continued to evolve and offer more and more benefit to its customer base, and what they’ve built is simply without peer right now. Where it wasn’t a good fit for me a couple years ago, Spotify is without question the best music streaming service I’ve ever used. And I think Google would do well to take YouTube Music and copy Spotify’s formula for end user experiences. Until that happens, though, I’m a Spotify guy.