Barely noticed amid the torrent of 'Twitter goes mainstream' stories that swept through nerd-world in January, a music service was launched that promises to utterly revolutionise the way we listen to and discover music.
The significance of Spotify is that it points the way to a post-MP3 future, where music becomes, as David Bowie so perceptively predicted in 2002, "like running water or electricity", a near-infinite resource.
In this scenario, the key activity is not downloading, but rather streaming.
Right now the prospect of streaming music on the go – via your iPhone, say – is not at attractive one. It's too slow. But that will change. And once you can legally stream almost any song in the world, as Spotify (which currently has the backing of all the major labels) will soon enable you to do, it's possible to envisage a world in which iTunes, with its emphasis on space-hogging music files, will seem impossibly outdated.
You can read more about Spotify in the new issue of NME. Meanwhile, in the spirit of celebrating the best in online music, here are twelve more services we recommend.
Billed as an "easier and better alternative to piracy", Peter Gabriel's new(ish) venture offers 3.5 million free tracks. The downside? They all have ads attached.
Web giant Yahoo has snapped up this Firefox/Explorer add-on, which enables users to control tracks via a browser add-on that also puts related info – song lyrics, Flickr images, Wikipedia entries etc – at your fingertips.
A recommendation service that focuses on gigs, not tracks. Simply list three bands you love and Songkick suggests concerts in your area.
Super-slick live gig streaming. Check out performances by Elbow and Bloc Party.
5.Now Play It
Multi-award-winning guitar tuition site. It's not all free, though: full-length tutorials cost £3.99.
Online file storage. Useful if your hard-drive is creaking under the weight of mp3s. Look out for the hopefully forthcoming Google 'G-Drive' too, rumoured to be the ultimate free online storage space.
The digital-age equivalent of making mixtapes for your friends. Also see Muxtape, which is now back up-and-running (but not as good) after facing legal challenges from labels.
A social networking service centred on creating playlists and recommending music to friends. Great for posting music clips on blogs.
A streaming service for people who can't download Spotify (due to its restriction in many countries) – although the catalogue is nowhere near as broad.
10.The Hype Machine
How to keep track of all those thousands of bloggers' voices, all recommending different music? Simple - Hype Machine does it for you and flags up the tracks that are getting the most attention, meaning you get great music on tap. An invaluable source for finding free downloads too.
Keeps track of everything you listen to on your iTunes and recommends similar artists - all while introducing you to fellow users with similar tastes. Great for finding new music or gig buddies.
'The Do It Yourself Music Club', aimed primarily at musicians who want to get their stuff heard.
Like Fairtilizer, this is mainly for artists and music-biz people since it facilitates the sending and uploading of files, irrespective of format.
...and one more that looks promising:
Still in private beta (it goes public in March), Twones is being pitched as the ultimate one-stop music-service aggregator. Particularly smart is the ability to snoop on what your friends are listening to in real time, then interact via Twitter. The next big thing?