Spotify Finally Seems Like It's Making Extended Range Portable Music Collections a Possibility

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Spotify has recently announced that it’s at last removing the 10,000 Song limit on personal collections. What exactly this means still isn’t entirely clear, and as per my testing today those limits still seem to be very firmly in place - and I’m still getting the alerts! Weird too is that the announcement appears in several news and social media, but not in Spotify’s own news feed - which is leading on the Joe Rogan Experience story?

iTunes

Going back a good few years I already had a 23,000+ strong collection of songs on iTunes - which worked fine on my main machine - an iMac at the time, but increasingly became corrupted and scrambled when trying to sync across to my mobile phone / iPhone. I am one of those guys who likes to have his music with him at all times - and even since before my DJ'ing days I had an extensive collection of vinyls - which at the peak of the collection number around 10,000 vinyl platters.

 

So in the early days iTunes worked really well for me as I regularly chopped and changed and added to my hundreds of playlists. This all started going south after iTunes 11 was released - where on 3 separate occasions iTunes totally mangled and corrupted my collection - and I had to rebuilt all the playlists from scratch (circa 700 of them). My brother then suggested I try Apple's Music-Match function to try to better preserve the collection - but that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster as iTunes took to randomly replacing very specific mixes and remixes with bog-standard album tracks. That was the last straw for me, and fortunately I had backups - but that put the seal on the iTunes experience. Interestingly my cousin Stewart still has his even more massive collection in iTunes - but since he doesn't do the device syncing thing - his collection has remained remarkably intact.

Vox Music Player

I went down the route of trying to find a music collection playback software the equivalent to iTunes - and ended up on the Vox Music Player for a while. But I found out that not enough had been invested in that platform and the syncing from backup and to mobile devices is just horribly unreliable - for instance it refused to recognise the 'ö' character in Björk etc. so none of the Scandinavian stuff got synced across. That which you can get to work works fine - but because of some weird cacheing glitch the Playlists don't update properly - meaning older versions over-write new changes somehow and you loose tracks along the way. I also could never get the sync to mobile working properly. I think I still pay a subscription fee to Vox in the hope that they might one day improve - but it does not look like it's ever going to happen - so I'm definitely mothballing those efforts.

 

After becoming frustrated with Vox - I then discovered that I could save and sync my rare tracks to Spotify. Note that a significant part of my collection is based on rare tracks, mixes and remixes that have never been officially digitised and don't exist on any music library - not Amazon, Apple Music, BeatPort, TraxSource or any equivalent. I've had to rip so much of my own music from my vinyl and CD collection. And weirdly there are strange licensing restrictions in place with lots of conventional material - meaning that I can't access several of my favourite albums on Spotify UK as they're not licensed for that territory for some bizarre reason. When I go back to Iceland - all those childhood favourites are available - and we're talking International bands here with a global presence. It's not altogether dissimilar to Digital Video Content which has its own weird and wonderful territorial licensing foibles.

Spotify Personal Downloads

So I was delighted when I came across the Spotity function that allowed me to load up all those tracks that Spotify could not provide me with from its core library - which is probably 30-40% of my collection. Yet my delight was short-lived as I soon crashed into the barrier that was the 10,000 track limit. This meant that of my 23,000 former iTunes collection - I could carry less than half with me.

 

Several years have passed in the interim and Spotify has started to become more unreliable too - at times I deleted dozens of albums of downloads in order to add newer material - but Spotify would still not allow me to upload any in their stead. I thought these might be cacheing issues - but several months later and yet further download deletions - I was still unable to upload any more. A pet peeve in all of this is that Spotify never tells you what your number of tracks total is - which would be very useful for knowing how many downloads you need to delete etc.. And when you get the 'All Filled Up' notice - deleting a tonne of downloads seems to have no bearing on proceedings at all - so it looked like Spotify was becoming as unreliable as iTunes for me.

The 10,000 Song Limit

I was delighted when the announcement rang out that the 10,000 limit was being dropped. I waited a couple of days to check it out - and it allowed me to download just a couple of new albums before the alert reared its ugly head again. Spotify says it's gradually rolling out this new no-limit feature - but it hasn't been particularly clear on how or when. There also seems to be some fine-print about limits on shared devices - which really would make a mockery of this whole announcement. My intent has always been to have a fully portable Jukebox of my entire collection - which I did indeed have in place some 10 years ago before everything started to become scrambled.

 

I've always gone for the maximum capacity iPhones for this exact purpose - with the intent of filling the phone mostly up with my music - so that it can travel with me anywhere and everywhere - subterranean and in the air! So while I am a little excited by the prospect - I'm a more than a little suspicious too of exactly what Spotify is doing here. I've communicated with them on several occasions asking for the limit to be upped - and offering to pay further fees for the privilege. I fear that this new announcement may just be another copout - and I still wait nervously to see exactly what will materialise and when.

 

I would love to know what your experiences are of curating and syncing your own portable collections and playlists ...

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