Written by Natasha Douglas
On October 7, 2008, a new application called, “Spotify” was launched, similar to iTunes, but with a large and significant difference. According to Chris Salmon, “Spotify gives you instant, legal access to millions of tracks without any charge” (Welcome to Nirvana). The Swedish originated application streams music, as well as podcasts and videos, providing “digital rights management-restricted content from record labels and media companies.” Spotify has created an application for authorized redistribution of media, giving consumers access to numerous amounts of copyrighted content.
This application is accessible through multiple devices and platforms, running on “all manner of smartphones, tablets, PCs, and even television-connected set top boxes, including gaming consoles” (John Patrick Pullen). The convenience of Spotify has created a large following, but the even greater allure is the access to over '30 million tracks' in addition to your ability to utilize Spotify’s services for free with the exception of a few ads per hour.
The real question now is how Spotify gets you access to their vast music library from your computer. Music is stored within Spotify’s servers and once a song is requested, Spotify begins a process in which it searches for the track in your cache, “a folder on your computer used to temporarily store tracks you already listened to on Spotify” (Kim Gilmour). Spotify then retrieves the “track from its servers” and “searches for other nearby computers that use Spotify — run by other Spotify users like you — who may have local versions of the tracks, or fragments of the tracks, stored in their caches” (Gilmour). Your computer is now intertwined in a large network of Spotify users, using a peer-to-peer [P2P] network to share content and communicate with other computers.
Spotify created its P2P network in order to reduce the traffic on “Spotify’s servers and bandwidth resources” (G. Kreitz). This was implemented so that the performance of Spotify would not decrease in result of an overloaded server. Spotify’s P2P server utilizes various components in order to produce its quality and speed, including the selection of peers for P2P sharing. “Each client has a maximum number of peers it may be connected to at any given time” and are “configured with both a soft and a hard limit, and never go above the hard limit. The client does not make new connections above the soft limit and periodically prunes its connections to keep itself below the soft limit” (Kreitz).
Spotify is an ingenious application, created for the purpose of providing consumers with access to millions of tracks, videos, etc. at little to no cost. While this idea seems simple, the process in order to arrive at that conclusion is intertwined with various components and factors. Note that “the approach that Spotify uses to combine server-based and peer-to-peer streaming gives very good results, both with respect to user-relevant performance measures, and in reducing server costs” (Kreitz).
Gilmour, Kim. 'How Spotify Works - For Dummies'. Dummies.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.
Kreitz, Gunnar, and Fredrik Niemelä. "Spotify--large scale, low latency, P2P music-on-demand streaming." Peer-to-Peer Computing (P2P), 2010 IEEE Tenth International Conference on. IEEE, 2010.
Pullen, John. 'Everything You Need To Know About Spotify'. TIME.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.
Salmon, Chris. 'Welcome To Nirvana: The Future Of Downloading'. the Guardian. N.p., 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.