Last week, the most anticipated launch of a cloud music service finally happened here in the USA. Spotify, available for years in much of the rest of the world, finally got their licensing and server acts together and turned on their “listen to almost anything for free even if you don’t own it” music service.
And with that breathless couple of compound sentences, I haven’t even begun to tell the story.
“The Cloud” matters. I’ve told you this several times, and while music streaming might not seem all that important to you, it’s enormously popular and both a great test of cloud service capabilities and people’s adoption of new ideas. The Cloud is business change.
I’ve talked about Google Music. I’ve told you about Amazon Cloud Music. Both of those, as well as Apple’s iCloud music streaming offering, require you to own the music you stream through the Cloud. For years other services such as Rhapsody have let you license the right to play music, even if you didn’t own it, for a fee—generally in the $15 per month range.
Still others let you listen to music for free, but limited the way you could access that music. Pandora, for example, lets you set up “stations” that are likely to play music you enjoy, but if something you don’t want to listen to starts playing your ability to skip forward is limited.
Spotify lets you play music you don’t own, on demand, for free. Oh, they’ll take your money for plans with extra bells and whistles, but if you have a free Spotify account you can listen to pretty much anything without paying a dime.
This ought to be great news. And it is. Unless you use your computer for certain things, which Spotify will break without warning leaving anyone other than a real computer geek with a very large headache.
Here are the two settings programmed into my network router that allow me to A) access a computer on my network using Remote Desktop Protocol(RDP)/Remote Control Software and B) point requests for RDP access that come through my router from the Internet at a specific computer—in this case the server that sits under my desk and that I use as a workstation when I’m in the office.
Last week, I installed Spotify on that computer. The next time I tried to use it I noticed that RDP had stopped working; I couldn’t access my server from the Internet. After too much poking and prodding I figured out that installing Spotify had opened another port on my computer, and that in doing so it had broken the RDP connection.
Spotify didn’t tell me it was opening that extra port, nor that it would interfere with other software I was already running. Not surprisingly, no matter how cool it is, Spotify is no longer on my computer.
When LogMeIn handled computer access in a way that was inherently insecure, my problem was that a company dealing in security and remote control access had messed up security and remote control access. Spotify is not in the security business, but they’re certainly in the access business. They could have done a better job of this.
But believe it or not, this rant is only peripherally about Spotify and how careless it was to make the Spotify software so grossly incompatible with other software.
No; this rant is really about the very large problems that crop up in business change, customer service, and in places that just shouldn’t be affected when you design a piece of software (or a business system) carelessly. It’s the reason my “Computers Are Hard” article from a couple of months ago matters to you. Somewhere along the line we all started believing that we could buy these magic boxes, plug them in, and they’d just work.
And they do. Until they don’t. I can’t even imagine what someone who doesn’t understand computers and networks really well would have done if they installed Spotify on a computer already running RDP and then had no Remote Access.
Need help with this computer stuff? PC-VIP is small business computer support for a fixed fee, and it available everywhere. Or if you’re in the New York City area and prefer the traditional break/fix approach to computer support you can hire The Computer Answer Guy.
In the meantime … if your computer is just a computer and not doing anything server-esque, see if you can snag an invitation for Spotify. It’s real business change in the music business.