I have been a Deezer user for three years. When I started, I compared Deezer and Spotify and thought that Deezer had a better user interface and was a little better with “similar artists” and hence, with “radio” (‘play similar artists’).
I still have a free Spotify account, but (as you may know) a free account gets commercials, can only play in random order and cannot skip tracks a lot. The music that is available is virtually the same. Both have little things that are easier or better than with the other. Both use the same price of € 9,99 per month. Also I am relatively happy with Deezer, so I never really had a reason to use Spotify.
Both can “scrobble” to Last.fm.
There was a time I had a paid membership of Last.fm and used the “radio” function a lot, but when Last.fm was disallowed to stream music (even with paying users), they got less interesting and I moved to Deezer. Later Last.fm dropped some of their most interesting functions (recommended music and events feeds, discussion groups, and they launched a terrible website and an even more terrible app, making their service almost obsolete). I continued “scrobbling” with the hope that Last.fm would rise back to their old level, but so far, there are no indications that they ever will…
I probably knew, but never registered the fact, but recently I realised that nowadays Last.fm plays music through Spotify instead of their own servers (alternatively you can play tracks from Youtube when music is not available on Spotify). Would that mean that you can use a “tag” (but why oh why did Last.fm skip their tag search?), play the “radio” (which still exists) and Last.fm tells Spotify what to play based on the Last.fm algorithms? Or let Last.fm pick the “similar artists” to play rather than the awful “similar artists” of Deezer and Spotify? Now that is potentially interesting!
So, I am back looking at Spotify. The first thing I noticed is that the Last.fm / Spotify integration is shaky to say the least. You have to open the Spotify player or the web-player, make your choice at Last.fm and hit the “play” button. Then Last.fm will try to use the Spotify player to play the music, but this takes ages and often does not work at all. This could be caused by the fact that I use a stone-age laptop to play online music, but this laptop has no problems whatsoever with Deezer.
Some further experimenting shows that most browsers choke on the webbrowserplayer of Spotify (play.spotify.com) (not just the old laptop), but the laptop has fewer problems with the downloaded player. Unfortunately the integration between the Last.fm website and the Spotify player is still awfully slow and unstable.
Which made me have a look at Spotify without Last.fm and there are a few things that catch my eye.
The Deezer interface is (still) much more user-friendly and logical than Spotify’s. Deezer also has a great function called “play next”, which Spotify lacks. When you are playing music, you can choose to play something else (a track, an entire album or a playlist) right after the track that is currently playing. I use that a lot. Both have a playing queue, so you can play an album and tell Deezer or Spotify to play another album right after. This is also a function that I use a lot.
Deezer has a very prominent function “hear this”. Recommendations based on what you played before. This is even my start-screen for Deezer. The recommendations are not too good, but sometimes the first thing I see when starting Deezer is that a band or project that I like has a new album. Plus for Deezer!
Spotify has the same thing. They call it “discover”, but it takes a couple of clicks to get there and then you have to scroll horizontally (the app has easier access). Spotify could use a “discover” button on the homescreen with a simple list of recommendations (including why this is a recommendation like Deezer does). This is much better on Deezer.
Then I noticed that the “similar artists” of Spotify is much better than a couple of years ago and nowadays they are much better than on Deezer. I listen to ‘small music’ and Deezer often may perhaps have some album unexpectedly, but there are no “similar” artists for the artist (not even artist who released material on the same label, albums which Deezer also has). When they do have “similar artists” they often make no sense. Take this example: Genocide Organ, extreme noise terrorism. The “similar artists” include things like Herbst9 (dark ambient), Novy Svet (weird folk) and Tony Wakeford (neofolk). You do not want these artists in a Genocide Organ “radio” (even though they may be good on themselves) or the other way around, you are listening to neofolk and suddenly Deezer presents some power electronics.
The “similar artists” of Spotify make much more sense.
Another example. Deezer has no “similar artists” to the great Michael Idehall. His music is indeed hard to define, but Spotify does have “similar artists”. These are not great, but in most cases not entirely unlogical. They are not the same as Last.fm‘s “similar artists” by the way (some of which are questionable themselves).
So why do Deezer and Spotify not just follow Last.fm in these things? That sort of information is available on the public website of Last.fm.
Then again, like I said, the “similar artists” function of Spotify is nowadays much, much better than Deezer’s which just might mean that I would start using the “artist radio” function again. I would love to be able to use the Last.fm “tag radio” again as well. I am going to have to find a way to make the Last.fm / Spotify integration work more smoothly.
Another Spotify function that Deezer lacks: concerts. Last.fm recommends concerts based on music playing history in combination with location (but they will recommend a concert hundred of kilometers away and why not?). Spotify unfortunately is just based on location (and hopefully also my music history), but since the Last.fm concert recommendations are not easily accessible anymore (through feed or app), Spotify just might have an imperfect alternative.
Playlists. I find it easier to find playlists on Deezer, but Spotify has many, many more of them. This too is a plus for Spotify. I would prefer both platforms to make a clearer distinction between playlist, “radio” and album recommendations by the way.
Spotify has an option “no pause between tracks” which Deezer does not. If this works as it suggests it does, that would be amazing. Both have ‘fading’ options so that the end of a track is mixed through the beginning of the next, but in Deezer this is truly a crap-function. I have not tried it in Spotify yet.
The Spotify app seems better structured and easier to use than the Deezer app (which I never use).
Spotify has prepaid subscriptions. You can just buy one or three months Spotify premium without having to take a subscription. Also, you can pay through iDeal (a Dutch way of safely paying directly from your bank account), while Deezer only has Paypay or credit card.
Deezer does have a big plus again though. It works light-weightily through a webbrowser so I can use it at work, while I cannot get the Spotify browser player working either at work or at home on the old laptop.
I am going to use both services for the next month and see which has the least ‘cons’ to me. I must say that I am currently leaning towards going over to Spotify. Should it turn out that Spotify’s recommendations are better than Deezer (which is to be expected as their “similar artists” are too), then it will definitely be byebye to Deezer. The Spotify players do have to speed and stable up though and getting the Last.fm integration to work properly would also take way some serious reluctance.