Question: How can you carry your entire record collection in your pocket on your phone? Answer: Using a streaming music service (and a good data plan).
Napster has the superior music collection having a larger number of record labels on-board, having many common tracks that are missing from Spotify. I found many high profile artists like Example and Adele were missing from Spotify (a clue to the reason can be found here) which can limit your listening pleasure (especially when you find a cover version automatically substituted for an original). I’m hoping that as Spotify expand into the US they are able to encourage more labels to sign up.
The Napster client has the same functionality of the desktop client and is reasonably well laid out (although I would have preferred to see your own music collection as the default tab on opening). Much of the functionality depends on a fast data connection and those on limited data plans might want to ensure they are in a wifi hotspot before using.
Unfortunately the mobile client seems to be plagued by the same reliability problems that affect the desktop client:
The Spotify client in comparison is slick and smooth in use, intuitive and a pleasure to use. Downloading music to make it available offline is simple and the mobile client again offers the ability to scrobble to Last.fm if you are a user. The radio feature is missing from the mobile client, but I couldn’t help be impressed with the speed that playlists synchronised when changed on the desktop client. The Spotify mobile client can also manage your existing collection of music, and can be used to move your own music library (MP3s etc) onto your handset if you aren’t a premium subscriber.
From what I can determine there is no social aspect to Napster. There are some mouldy old forums with a few old posts in, but little else to encourage sharing of playlists. Spotify by comparison links to Facebook (although this is optional) and gives you the ability to share live playlists with your friends. Many websites have sprung up to share playlists, aiding music discovery and allowing you to swap playlists with your friends. As an example of the power of this facility I found a s
hared playlist of the Radio 2 record of the week. Every time this playlist is updated by its owner, my copy changes too and is updated to match – which makes the Napster client feel basic and underpowered in comparison.
Having tried both I prefer the music catalogue from Napster, however I found the interface spoilt my experience and I missed the social features so I went back to using Spotify. With both services priced at £10 for unlimited streaming and mobile access, Napster are going to have to up their game if they want to compete with Spotify which offers a far more feature rich package for £10 a month.