I ditched Spotify Premium this weekend. Why? Well, I read an interview with Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, and I profoundly disagreed with what he said and his attitude towards musicians in the interview. So I said 'F*ck it', and closed my premium account. I still do have a free account as many bands choose Spotify to release their music, so I'll keep it for that reason.
What now though? Well, I'd created a large library of music on my home server over the last 20 years or so. Every time I bought a CD, it got ripped to the server. Every time I bought digital music from Bandcamp, Google or 7 Digital, they too got stored on the server, and that was fine for home use, it worked well. But now I'd dumped Spotify, what could I do, how could I access my music outside the house?
I'd played around with software called Plex a few years back, but had no use for it. I ended up doing nothing with Plex, but for this project, I decided to revisit it. I knew that if I set Plex up correctly, I would be able to access my music library from anywhere in the world and it turns out that it is rather easy to setup!
I setup a Plex account and signed up for a years subscription. It cost about €35 euro. I then downloaded and installed the software on my server. Now, you don't need a server, you could set this up on your Mac or PC, it'll work just as well. The only thing to remember is that if your computer is turned off, you've no access to your music. My server is on 24/7, so that's not an issue.
The next step was to add my music to the Plex Library. That's simple to do. You go into Settings, then Manage and finally Libraries and just follow the on screen prompts. It took quite a few hours for Plex to sort through my library, but eventually, it was all there.
One thing to look out for is to make sure that Remote Access is enabled, otherwise you will not be able to access your music remotely, obviously. To do that, go to Settings, then on the left hand side, click on Remote Access. I left the defaults as they were. I've a good broadband connection, so upload speed is not something I need to limit, but if you need to, you can limit it here so Plex doesn't hog all the bandwidth.
And that's it, that's the Plex Media Server set up. Well... not totally, but all the hard work is done. You can set Plex to Update the Library at various different frequencies, I've set mine to daily. I don't think I need to update it more than that, though you can manually force an update if you want.
So how do I access my music when I'm out and about? Simple really, I installed the Plex App on my phone (available for both Android and iPhones), signed into my account and my music was there waiting for me.
That's the Music Library screen when you select the artist you want. You can also search by Song Title, Album or Artist if you wish. I'll select US rockers Holy White Hounds for this example.
Plex gives you a little bit of information on the band and lists all the music from them in your collection. I only have their 2016 album Sparkle Sparkle. I can select it and hit play or I can browse tracks on that album.
And that's it. That's how I got rid of Spotify Premium and now have full access and control over my own music library on the go.
Over all, the installation and configuration on my server and on my phone took about an hour. It took over night for my collection to be scanned in to the Plex Library, but that's all down to the size of my collection. If you have the hardware, it's well worth checking Plex out!