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One thing that iTunes (s aapl) has over Spotify’s online music service is its wireless connectivity to the Apple TV. But it is actually possible to get the same kind of connectivity with Spotify, and use it from any room in your house, with the addition of a classic Mac app and a couple of third-party iOS apps.
Step 1: Get Spotify
There are two ways to get a Spotify account: either by invitation for a free account, or by paying for premium or unlimited accounts. Once you have an account set up, you’ll need to download and install the Spotify OS X client application. Then just start browsing for music and create playlists. Just a few more steps, and you’ll turn your house into one big Spotify jukebox.
Step 2: Extend AirPlay to any Mac music app with Airfoil
Next you’ll need Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil for Mac. Airfoil has been around since long before Apple introduced AirPlay and the second generation Apple TV. Any audio application on the Mac (including Spotify), or even the Mac’s system output can be made accessible to AirPlay devices with Airfoil.
- Download and install Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil for Mac.
- Choose Spotify in Airfoil as the application you want to play.
- Choose the AirPlay and/or Airfoil device(s) you want to connect to.
- Play music using Spotify.
Step 3: Extend your range with Airfoil speakers
One of the limitations of Apple’s AirPlay has been the fact that iOS devices themselves are not able to receive AirPlay streams, only send them. Luckily, Rogue Amoeba created an app called Airfoil Speakers Touch for iOS devices that allows Airfoil to play music on any and all iOS devices connected to your local network. This works great if you want to extend your playback to speakers that otherwise would not be connected. There’s also a version of Speakers for OS X (.zip file) that will allow you to extend your playback to all the Macs on your network. Keep in mind that you are limited to your local network, so this is not a workaround for taking your library on the go, which is only included in the premium and unlimited Spotify accounts.
Bonus: Remote control options to round it all off
Now that you’re playing music from Spotify around your house, how can you also control it remotely? There are two good third-party solutions to help with this: One will let you control Airfoil on your Mac, and the other will allow you to control Spotify.
- Reemote for Airfoil. Kai Aras’ Reemote lets turn on and off different combinations of Airfoil and AirPlay enabled devices on your network. You can even control their individual volumes, to some extent, and you can switch your audio source application on the host Mac. There is an iPhone as well as an iPad version of Reemote. To make this work, you’ll also need to download and install the Reemote Server application for Mac.
- Two Remotes for Spotify. To control what playlists you’re listening to from within Spotify on the Mac, there are two good solutions. Axel Moller’s Spot Remote and Anders O’s Remoteless. Both apps are universal, supporting both the iPhone and iPad. Both allow you to browse and start Spotify playlists, as well as search for tracks, artist and albums. Another thing they both share is the use of an open source library called SIMBL. The server software for Spot Remote as well as Remoteless requires that SIMBL be installed on the host Mac in order for either solution to work. SIMBL allows third-party developers to enhance the functionality of other applications from other developers. Unfortunately, while it seems to work for some, OS X Lion does not yet appear to be officially supported by either solution.
Since this does require a bit of setup, it isn’t quite as easy as just using iTunes and an Apple TV. But if you’re looking for an alternative that makes use of Spotify’s great new service, maybe this is the whole home music solution you’ve been waiting for.