Is Spotify Connect the Death of Spotify for the CI Channel?

With Spotify Connect, Spotify has basically turned its back on our industry as a whole. The technology’s “integration” consists of being bounced out of whatever app you are using to their app, where you then choose which songs to play and which system to play them on.
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Last week I wrote about holiday gifts for clients and one idea was to buy a subscription to a streaming service. I have learned, however, that Spotify may be a streaming service to avoid. I’ll be honest, I don’t use Spotify, as I’ve been a loyal Rhapsody customer since its inception in 2001. But my understanding and experience with Spotify Connect has been leading me to discourage clients from using it.

As custom integrators, we always strive to deliver a consistent, cohesive, and unified interface to our clients. This is a prime reason I do not support Sonos; their lack of integration makes it virtually impossible to deliver a reliable and uniform interface for our clients. Now, with Spotify Connect, Spotify has basically turned its back on our industry as a whole. The technology’s “integration” consists of being bounced out of whatever app you are using to their app, where you then choose which songs to play and which system to play them on. If you then what to choose which rooms get the music, you have to go back into the automation or whole-home audio app (be it Crestron, Savant, or Heos) and select the rooms. What an awful customer experience! And try explaining the usage to a client who is not as technologically literate? I can only imagine the service calls

-Hi Todd, I haven’t listened to music in a few weeks, but I’m having a dinner party tonight and I can’t get the music to play through the Crestron App. I know you told me that everything in my home is controlled from this app, but I can not for the life of me figure out how to play Spotify. Can you help me?

-Why yes Mr. Client, you need to first open the Spotify App, choose your music, go to the “now playing screen,” click the small icon that says “devices available” at the bottom and choose the Crestron NSP1 option at the bottom. OK, now open the Crestron app again and choose the rooms in which you want to play the music. If you want to pause or skip a song, you’ll need to go back to the Spotify App. Or you can just subscribe to Rhapsody


My head is spinning from that! Many thanks to Mark Feinberg of Home Theater Advisors for going through the process on his phone at home so I could type this up. Again, I’m not a Spotify user.

And if you have dedicated touch panels, it is even worse. You have to go through the ridiculous process above on an iOS or Android device to select the music and then go back to the touch panel to select rooms and adjust volume. What a terrible solution.

And to make matters worse, with Spotify Connect, ONLY ONE STREAM can be played to the whole-home audio system. That means that if two different people in the home want to listen to different Spotify streams, they need different Spotify accounts.

Why, oh why, would Spotify make things so difficult? Are they going down the Sonos path of “Our interface is so great that it is the only thing our subscribers can use to access our content?” I can’t see how this is better for any user of a whole-home audio system. It works the same way for Denon HEOS—you have to leave the HEOS app and go into Spotify and go through the exact same process as above. I can only imagine how many technical support calls have been made to Denon to figure this out.

What do you all think of Spotify Connect? Are you seeing any confusion among clients? How do you handle it? Are you trying to convert them to another service?

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