Lots of music on hand for little money
January 11, 2017 9:32 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to find a (cheap!) way to bring a buttload of downloaded Spotify songs into work with me every day without burdening my phone.

My new job situation doesn't allow streaming music at work, which stinks because I've gotten spoiled by having access to the entire Spotify catalog. I'd like to sort of recreate what I had with my old giant-hard-drive iPod Classic, but with downloaded Spotify tracks- if I can't stream directly, I want to go back to at least the days of having thousands of tracks ready on hand to choose from. I can sort of do this with my phone, but I don't like the tradeoffs in battery life and music chewing up all of the memory space.

I know I could approximate this with a music-dedicated iPod Touch, but those things are damned expensive. Can anyone think of a way to make this happen for less than $200?
posted by the phlegmatic king to Technology (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A refurb 64GB iPod Touch will run you $209. $169 for a 32GB if that's enough space.
posted by corvine at 9:39 AM on January 11, 2017

Cheap Android phone with a microSD slot, and Spotify. That's going to be the cheapest way - less than $50, anyway.
posted by pipeski at 9:40 AM on January 11, 2017 [6 favorites]

(An unactivated android phone will still work on wifi...like a little tablet or ipod...you can literally get anything...look at the prepaid phones at your local electronics store or drugstore, even)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:45 AM on January 11, 2017

(I.e. you can still download apps (like spotify) and whatnot)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:46 AM on January 11, 2017

Cheap Android phone with a microSD slot, and Spotify. That's going to be the cheapest way - less than $50, anyway.

Yeah that sounds good, but there's an issue with Marshmallow handling SD cards on some Android phones (and who knows why, some models have working and non-working units). It's been going on for about a year, and there's been no attempt on the OS side to deal with it (no updates). Getting a high-speed SD card might help but also might not. Also know that if you format said card for internal storage, it's not going to be readable on anything else. Finally, not sure about Spotify service in other countries, but the app (in Canada at least) won't let you save things on external storage, it's got to go on internal storage. [And, because this is an Android problem, phone company and manufacturer aren't hugely invested in helping out.] So if you do go Android, pick a model that already has a good amount of onboard storage, just in case. going through this now.

posted by cotton dress sock at 10:05 AM on January 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I needed something for a similar purpose, I posted on a local buy/sell Facebook group. I wound up getting a very old but still perfectly functional iPod for $40.
posted by ficbot at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the suggestions so far! Can I add a refinement? If you're suggesting the Android route, if you could throw in more specific hardware suggestions, that'd be awesome. I'm 100% ignorant on the entire Android ecosystem.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 10:18 AM on January 11, 2017

If Spotify runs on a Kindle Fire, those things are dirt cheap.

Edit: the screen shots of them on Amazon show the Spotify icon, so I guess it does. But it looks like they're at most 16gb. But you could buy two and still be way under $200. Not sure if they have expandable storage.

Edit2: You can get 32gb models for $120.

Edit3: Or 5 monthly payments of $24!!!!!! ZOMG
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:28 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

According to Spotify's support page you should be able to save to SD on android.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2017

There aren't as many as there used to be, but regular [MP3] players are still available to buy new, and most are way less expensive than Apple products.

SanDisk has always been the best. They start at around $30 new and many if not most of them have SD card expansion slots. The one I have was discontinued a long long time ago, but I've heard that they're still making good ones. (Mine is easily over ten years old and while I don't use it as often as I used to, it still works great when I do.)

I'd recommend putting Rockbox on it, but they also work just fine out of the box too.

I don't know about downloading things off Spotify, but if you can get to the point that you've got the music and need something to store and play it, that's probably the cheapest and easiest solution.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:35 AM on January 11, 2017

According to Spotify's support page you should be able to save to SD on android.

It didn't when my card was actually recognized by the phone (which did happen for a hopeful minute) - referred to both global and app settings. (After clearing caches, rebooting, etc etc)

It also doesn't matter if it does or not if the phone doesn't recognize the card because Marshmallow won't let it [and/or because it's the wrong kind of SD].

you could throw in more specific hardware suggestions

I can only advise you to avoid the Moto X Play. But just check the specs for lots of storage, along with whatever else you need. Good luck.

posted by cotton dress sock at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding Sandisk products. They also have great tech support and even replaced one for free which was out of warranty. (I also use Rockbox on mine.)

I also have an old iPod Nano but prefer my Sansa clip.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2017

Following on jeffamaphone's suggestion for the Kindle Fire tablets, they do have an SD card slot.
posted by zsazsa at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2017

Note that Sandisk products, while excellent for MP3 files, won't work with Spotify.
posted by pipeski at 10:48 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

If the only obstacle is the prohibition of streaming, you could simply buy a 128GB sandisk USB flash drive for $23, and listen off of that on your work computer. I use one in my car, and it's replaced my phone and mp3 player as my main way of listening to digital music.

If you need a software player, I recommend foobar, which is free.
posted by millions at 10:53 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

This cricket phone is only $70, has 16gb of memory, and an SD card slot for more memory. I use this phone as my primary phone, and I've never had any problems with performance, storage, etc. It is just as good and powerful as the HTC phone I had before it. This screen is bigger and I find the tactile characteristics pleasing.

Good / bad news is that it has an absolutely amazing battery life (3070 mA/h, whereas the iPhone 7 is 1960 mA/h). The bad side to that is: in order to charge the battery in a reasonable time, they use the more powerful USB-C charger. It's only become an inconvenience when I've wanted to borrow someone's charger.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:12 AM on January 11, 2017

I asked something similar a few months ago, and here's what I ended up doing:

- A HooToo travel Router -- either the unpowered, $19 Nano or one of the bigger models with its own built-in battery. (See HooToo travel routers)
- A 128GB thumb drive
- My iPhone (only 16GB: sad!)

I filled up the thumb drive with music while I am at home. When I get to work, I put the thumb drive into the travel router and turn on its WiFi signal (not bridging to the building WiFi). I tell my iPhone to connect to that hotspot, and then I open the HooToo Plus app to connect to the travel router. The app lets me stream any music or video on the thumb drive, and I groove and jive freely all day.

On family road trips, I let my kids all stream a different movie or music to their tablets as we zoom down the road. It's heaven!

(You can also use the app to view documents stored on the device, and to move from between your phone and the device. This is great for backing up photos from your phone while on a trip, for example. Travel routers in general also have more features for travelers, and they are just super awesome.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:32 AM on January 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I do (almost) exactly what wenestvedt does but with this unit from RAVPower and an SD card, though it would work with a thumb drive as well. It is certainly light on documentation but it works pretty well and it's easy to set up. It can also be used the other way, copying files off of the phone to SD to free up space or make backups.

I don't download from Spotify specifically so I don't know if that piece would work, but in general audio and video stream well with this method. I assume if you're able to play them on an iPod Classic it'd work fine.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:11 PM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have no earthly idea if it's any good, and I didn't back it, but I remember there being a kickstarter for exactly this problem:Mighty. Looking at it, it's only 4gb.
posted by Pacrand at 4:21 PM on January 11, 2017

Plug your phone in while you're at work.
posted by rhizome at 5:51 PM on January 11, 2017

I've run Spotify on a random $30 Amazon Fire with a random microSDHC card with no problems. I don't think you can pick up a Fire for $30 every day but they get cheap often and you can . Otherwise you don't really need a specific Android phone recommendation especially since you're not to use it as a phone. Buy a cheap android phone for $30 and it will probably work. If not, throw it away and move on the next one.
posted by rdr at 5:51 PM on January 11, 2017

Cheap Android phone with a microSD slot, and Spotify. That's going to be the cheapest way - less than $50, anyway.

I've done this before. I rooted the phone, installed Spotify, and downloaded playlists to it. I use it as a beach MP3 player so I don't really have to worry about damaging it. I've used Swappa once as a buyer and once as a seller, and had great experiences as both. You could get a Galaxy S5 with 16GB of storage for about 150. I'm sure you could find an older phone with similar storage capacity for cheaper, too.
posted by codacorolla at 7:51 PM on January 11, 2017

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