Spotify is a free and legal service which gives you access to millions of songs. They achieve this by licensing the tracks from record companies in a similar way to radio stations, and they pay for it with advertising. You hear the occasional advert between tracks, and there are also options to pay a monthly subscription for a premium account. When I first heard about it, like many others I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. I also discovered there was no Linux version, so I pretty much gave up on it. That was until recently, when a friend was extoling it’s virtues to me so enthusiastically that I decided it warranted a second look. To be fair to them when you try and download the software on Linux the site does direct you to a wiki page for making it run under WINE. It turns out it’s pretty easy to install and configure on most Linux distributions. So I wanted to share with you how I did it, in the hope it might prove useful to others.
A Quick Warning: Before we start I should point out that Spotify is currently only available in the UK, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and Spain. I apologise to readers outside of these countries, but I wanted to make sure you knew this before getting too far into the article. They say this is because of licensing restrictions, only some record companies and territories are on board with the service. I won’t go into another rant about the stupidity of national borders when it comes to the Internet, but you probably know my feelings on this.
Step 1: Install WINE
We’ll be using WINE to install Spotify on Linux. WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator) is a clever tool which allows Windows programs to run on other platforms. I was testing this on a standard Ubuntu 9.04 install so could simply do “sudo apt-get install wine” in a terminal, but you don’t have to resort to the terminal if you don’t want to. WINE is packaged and waiting to be installed on most Linux distributions these days, just search for it with your package manager. With the Ubuntu Add/Remove tool you can just type “wine” into the search box and wait a few seconds, it should pop up as the top result “Wine Microsoft Windows Compatibility Layer”. Tick the box and press “apply changes”, you’ll be asked for your password as a security measure, then the application will install.
Step 2: Download Spotify Windows Installer: This is pretty easy, you just need the standard Windows installer from the Spotify website. Head to this page and download yourself a copy. It doesn’t matter where you save it, as long as you can remember for later.
Step 3: Double-click The Windows .exe:
With WINE installed on most distros it should open .exe files automatically when you double-click them. It can take a minute to do something so be patient, it is working just slowly, especially if it’s the first time you’ve run WINE.
I left the default Spotify install options allowing the program to create a shortcut on the desktop. It was installed in 2 seconds, literally.
Step 4: Log In To Spotify:
Obviously you need an account for this but provided you have one you can just log in to spotify with the pop window it presents. You can create an account for yourself by going to this page, or you might be lucky enough to get an invite from a friend, which has the same effect but makes you feel a bit more loved. Once logged in you will see a splash screen. I untick the box at the bottom so this isn’t shown every time you load, it’s up to you what you do.
Step 5: Listen To Some Music!
Finally you just need to find some music to listen to. Spotify has a very good library of tracks available and features such as shared playlists with your friends can be great fun. Sadly not all of the record companies are on board yet, but the catalogue is growing daily. I’m amazed at some of the obscure stuff you can find, it’s perfect for a terminal music geek like me. Almost everything works the same in WINE as it would on Windows but there are a couple of things which don’t work as yet. One example is the links to playlists people might send you in emails and such. They should open automatically in Spotify when you click them, but that doesn’t seem to work properly when you’re using WINE.
I’ve grown to like Spotify a lot and I really didn’t expect that at all. It has a few things to sort out but it’s coming along pretty nicely. I’d like to see it opened up to more countries and I’d also like to see a native Linux version eventually, but for now I’m quite happily rocking away with WINE. It works a lot better than I thought it would, according to the wiki some people are even using it on FreeBSD, wonders never cease. I hope you enjoy it too.