Last January when Sony announced that they were shutting down their Music Unlimited service and replacing it with Playstation Music I assumed there would be some kind of an overlap period. It seems Sony had other ideas. Music Unlimited closed on Sunday, March 29th, and Playstation Music launched on Monday, March 30th.
Playstation Music is basically Spotify with a very light Playstation coating. If you already have a Spotify account you can link it to your PSN account (you can do this from the web or from the Playstation Music app) and just like that you're a Playstation Music account holder. Playstation Music is available on the Playstation 3, Playstation 4 and Sony Xperia devices and it's nice to report for once that we're not talking about a US or North America only service. In all 41 countries are currently supported:
Spotify® is now available on PlayStation™Music in Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria (English only), Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (English only), Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (English and Traditional Chinese only), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway (English only), Peru, Poland, Portugal (English only), Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan***, Turkey, UK and USA.
You can use a free account (you'll get some ads of course) or sign up for a $9.99 premium account. Brand new users are supposed to get a one month trial of the premium service, and if you were a Music Unlimited subscriber you'll get a two month trial.
The experience on the Playstation 4 (where I did my testing) is pretty good. Everything is broken down into two main sections, one for browsing Spotify's library and one for your music. Under Your Music you'll find all your Spotify playlists, including ones that you're following. You can also browse through songs that you've added to your collection, but only songs. One big issue is that there's no Album view for your collection and all your songs are in a single (and probably very long) horizontally scrolling list. Pretty clunky.
So they need to work on that, and they need to add a way to add songs to a Playlist (you can add a song to your collection from the app, but not to a specific playlist as far as I was able to tell).
It's easy to forgive these rough spots because you can control Playstation Music via a Spotify app on your phone or tablet, and it works beautifully. As long as you're on the same network the connection is made automatically. There was nothing to set up. I started Spotify on my tablet and was told I was controlling Playstation Music on my PS4 (and was given the option to listen locally instead). It's a super slick setup.
And for PS4 gamers, I'm leaving the best for last. You can stream Playstation Music in the background while playing a game. You can quickly access your music by tapping the Playstation button on your controller to bring up the Playstation overlay (same screen you use to adjust microphone volume or put the PS4 into Rest Mode). Sadly this won't work for PS3 owners, but both PS3 and PS4 owners should be able to use their phone or tablet to control music without interrupting their game at all.
Unfortunately there's only bad news for Playstation Vita owners. You no longer have Music Unlimited, and Playstation Music does not work on the Vita. I couldn't even access it via Remote Play.
Music Unlimited was kind of a mess so saying Playstation Music is a better product honestly isn't saying a lot, but clearly it's a far superior service. For now at least, this is an exclusive, too. You won't be seeing Spotify on the Xbox One or the Wii U, at least not in the near term.
One final note: if you've never used Spotify before (I hadn't used it much) the free service is pretty good. Most, if not all, of the ads I'd heard were for new music that was available. The Spotify app on my desktop was pitching Cialis to me via banner ads but either I was very lucky or there was nothing like that being pitched by audio ads. The Premium version also offers higher quality sound but if you're listening while you're playing a game that's probably not going to matter. I signed up for a Premium account and I'm already kind of wondering why I bothered.