Spotify issues

spotify issues featured image

I’ve been a Spotify subscriber on and off for at least 12 years now. Things started off pretty great but there have been a number of bumps in the road where I have temporarily cancelled my subscription. These Spotify issues have again put my subscription back into a ‘cancelled’ state. The last time I cancelled (a month ago), my reasoning was two-fold. Price increases, and pushing in-app ads on me as a premium subscriber.

Spotify Issue 1

The ad I’ve been getting is a pop-up in the app trying to get me to listen to certain podcasts, or subscribe to Premium Duo. As a paying customer this is ludicrous. I don’t pay to be served up marketing and up-selling ads.

I’m not the only one getting this. It seems like a wide-spread issue. See:


These forums have numerous threads where people are having Spotify issues like this. The responses from Spotify are mostly always weak, miss the point, or simply suggest raising an ‘idea’.

Spotify Issue 2

The Spotify desktop client is a bit rubbish. It uses Electron / chromium and suffers in terms of performance and the amount of memory it consumes as a result. For those unaware, Electron is essentially a web browser (mostly the engine) used to write cross-platform desktop applications with JavaScript, HTML, CSS, etc… They used to have a much better native client. I’m not sure what happened with the move to electron, but it has resulted in a significantly worse user experience in my opinion.

Here’s a recommendation for anyone who hates the current Spotify Desktop client and it’s massive memory usage (and sluggish performance). Get Psst. You’ll need to have a Spotify Premium account, but this desktop app is far superior if you just want a clean, basic music listening experience.

Psst is written in Rust. It’s lean and performant. You can get a release from the Psst GitHub Releases page, or you can download the source and compile it yourself with Rust. Here’s how I did that (make sure you have the rust tool chain / cargo installed):

git clone
cd psst
git submodule update --recursive --init
cargo build --release

You can then launch it by running:


Sign in using your Spotify Premium account credentials and you’ll have a clean, native running app where you can listen to your music and playlists without the bad parts of the official Spotify desktop client.

Spotify Issue 3

As with many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) apps, you don’t own the music you listen to on Spotify. You simply subscribe and get access to the music. As soon as you cancel your subscription, that’s it, no more music, unless you hobble along with a free plan that throws even more advertising your way.

I have slowly been moving my essential services I have previously used in the ‘cloud’ back to my own self-hosted infrastructure. I’m now considering using this approach for my music too. It seems like a better idea to outright purchase any new music from a service like Bandcamp, and then self-host a streaming platform myself. Something like navidrome.

To quote the GitHub page:

Navidrome is an open source web-based music collection server and streamer. It gives you freedom to listen to your music collection from any browser or mobile device. It’s like your personal Spotify!

Closing thoughts

The Spotify experience has been getting progressively worse, whilst it’s subscription fees have been getting progressively higher. Further Spotify issues have lead to me cancelling my subscription once again.

I will be trying out Navidrome to self-host my own personal music, augmented with music purchased from bandcamp and other indie platforms (or direct from artists).

SpotiPod – Spotify Streaming Device from an iPod Classic

spotipod classic

I recently came across the sPot: Spotify in a 4th-gen iPod (2004) project on by Guy Dupont. This post is my go at building Guy’s project from the ground up – the SpotiPod.

Here is my version, up and running, albeit with some hardware leaking out the side for now…

The main components required in terms of hardware are:

  • iPod Classic (4th gen) – at least the device case and clickwheel components
  • A Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • 2″ LCD display (see note further on about an alternative)
  • 3.7V 1000mah LiPo battery
  • Adafruit boost module (to boost 3.7V to 5V required by the Pi, LCD, etc…
  • Adafruit USB charge controller module

Once it’s all connected and configured, you’ll be able to load up your own Spotify playlists and libraries, browse them, and play them all from your iPod Classic device over a bluetooth speaker or remote system.

The SpotiPod build almost complete.
Some wire reduction still required before I can completely close it up.

SpotiPod High-level Build

I won’t be getting into the low-level parts of the build, so for specific details I would recommend viewing Guy’s project log and branching off the posts there.

Initial Raspberry Pi Zero W setup with 2″ LCD display

I started off loading Raspbian Lite OS onto an 8GB microSD card and booting up a barebones Pi Zero W. The W version is important because it has WiFi and Bluetooth on the board.

My first task was to configure SSH to start automatically on boot. Useful when I have no display to start with. I also added some of the required software components to begin testing and messing around with, including redis server, compiling the click c++ application that Guy wrote to interface with the iPod’s clickwheel, and setting up some of the X11 components for a basic UI.

Soldering up the connection for the 2″ LCD display was my first hardware connection task. My soldering iron might come out once in a year, so I’m a bit of a novice in this area, but I managed the task on my first go.

Connecting the LCD to Raspberry Pi Zero via Composite Connector
Connecting the LCD to Raspberry Pi Zero via Composite Connector
testing the LCD
First LCD test successful

I posted more details here on the 2″ LCD connection and configuration in software.

Connecting the Charge Controller and Voltage Boost Modules

Next up I focused on getting the power delivery working. The goal was to be able to charge the LiPo battery via USB and have the circuit supply 5V to all SpotiPod components where required.

I familiarised myself with the Adafruit module documentation and pinout diagrams before connecting the circuit up.

  • Adafruit Powerboost 1000 module
  • Adafruit Charge Controller

Here is a useful diagram to follow, posted by Kakoub on the project page, re-hosted here in case the imgur upload ever disappears:

Click for a larger, clearer version

So after getting power delivery and connections soldered in place, and precariously placing all the components away from eachother to prevent shorts, here is where I was at:

SpotiPod Powerboost and Charge modules connected
Powerboost and Charge modules connected

Testing the Click wheel and Software

The click wheel connectivity is made easier with an 8 Pin FPC cable breakout board. I hooked this up next, soldering the 4 wires required for power and data.

The click wheel ribbon connector could then snap into the breakout board ribbon connector. This is by far the most delicate part of the build in my opinion. The ribbon cable is super thin and delicate.

Connecting the 8 pin FPC breakout board. My soldering skills slowly coming back with a bit of practice…

Testing the interface was a case of compiling the clickwheel program with gcc over an SSH connection then executing it with everything connected.

If wired up correctly, the program will output touch and click data to stdout.

iPod Classic click wheel testing over SSH

Gutting the old iPod Classic

I managed to snag an old iPod Classic 4th gen off eBay for about £20. It wasn’t working, but had the two bits I needed – the chassis, and the clickwheel.

Breaking out my trusty iFixit essentials toolkit, I set about opening it up to remove the unecessary components.

The method I found to work was to pry it open on the left and right edges using the pry tool. Once you can get into one of the edges, slide the tool around, and things get easier.

Insulating the case and components

With most of the electronics connected, I began insulating things with polyimide tape. Most importantly, the metal iPod case. I put down about three layers of tape and tried to cover all parts as best I could.

Insulating the iPod classic shell for the SpotiPod build.

Installing into the iPod Classic Case

This is the tricky part. It’s quite difficult to squeeze all the SpotiPod hardware in.

I started out by strengthening all my soldering connections with a bit of hot glue.

adding hot glue to the soldered connections for the SpotiPod
Adding hot glue to the soldered connections

After a bit of arranging, squeezing, and coercing, everything fits… Mostly!

Things are still not perfect though. I need to reduce my wire lengths before I can get the case to fully close.

For now though, everything works and I have a fully functional SpotiPod!

Tips and Tricks

I’ve put together a list of things that might help if you do this yourself. These are bits that I recall getting snagged on:

  • Make sure you setup all the X11 and software dependencies correctly. Getting Openbox and the frontend application to launch on start up can be tricky and this is crucial. Pay attention to your /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc and /etc/xdg/openbox/autostart configurations.
  • You don’t have to use the more expensive Adafruit composite LCD display. Ricardo’s build at RSFlightronics uses a much cheaper LCD and some creative approaches to get display output working.
  • Watch out for the click wheel ribbon orientation when you connect it to the breakout board!
  • Use thin and short length wires for connections where possible. Not too short though as it is useful to be able to open the device up and put the two halves side-by-side.
  • Make sure you have a Spotify Premium subscription. I can’t remember exactly, but I’m sure that creating your own app to get your client and secret keys, or some of the scopes required for the app will only work on Premium. (It might have even been spotify connect).
  • You’ll need to configure your own Spotify App using the Spotify Developer portal. Keep your client and secret keys safe to yourself. Remember to setup environment variables with these that the openbox session can access.
  • The frontend/UI application has a hardcoded reference to the Spotify Connect device as “Spotifypod”. Keep things simple by setting your raspotify configuation to use this name too, otherwise you need to update the code too.
  • If you’re struggling to get the software side working at first, it can really help to setup VNC while you debug things. This allows you to get a desktop environment on the Pi Zero and execute scripts or programs in an x session as openbox would.

Thanks again to Guy Dupont for his excellent SpotiPod project and idea. Putting this all together really makes for a fun and rewarding hardware/software hacking experience.