Tag: Streaming Music »
Here's a confession: I haven't purchased a song from iTunes or Amazon or Google in a couple of years.
No, I haven't turned to piracy via Bittorrent, and neither have I started to use (shudder) YouTube to listen to new songs.
I've done what millions of other folks are doing these days, namely using streaming radio.
It started with Pandora, but my experience there quickly paled as I realized I could never really get the specific artists I wanted on the stations I created. Plus, I'm an old-school music snob. I believe in the album format, as a collection of songs that makes some sort of collective statement, even when it isn't a thematic album, per se.
Enter Rdio, Spotify, and Rhapsody. Each streaming music service has its proponents and detractors, and I'm no different. I'm an Rdio fan from the start, but keep trying out Spotify as more and more of the connections on my social networks seem to use it to share playlists. I figured I'd give Rhapsody a shot, too, since it basically does the same thing as the other two.
And there's the rub. Each service does the same thing: offers up unlimited on-demand music from modern recorded music over the internet, via a website, computer app, or iOS app. How then, are we to choose which service is best for us? Here's how I did it.
First of all, I'm sticking to the iOS experience. That means that each service costs about $10 a month to use. I use my iPhone in the car or on my bicycle to play music via LTE on the go. I also use my iPad 3 or iPad mini to send music to bluetooth speakers in my house. These are my default listening environments.
Therefore, I'm judging each service on how well it works as an iOS app, as a music catalogue, and as a sharing platform, because I love sharing and discovering new music via my friends and social network.
Heard it on the Rdio
Rdio has a fantastic collection of music, both old and new, and the universal app makes it super easy to see what new albums are out, what albums are trending within my network, and to search for music I want to hear. I have yet to not be able to find something I'm looking for via search, and I dig pulling up new albums by artists I know as well as by those I don't. Rdio is visually organized around albums, which makes sense to my old music-loving brain.
While many of my music-snob friends use the service, what Rdio doesn't have is a significant amount of the rank and file people on the service to meet my sharing/discovery needs. The playlist support is also rather hidden in the iOS app, at least, making finding new playlists a more difficult task than it should be.
Spotify The Difference
Here's the current darling of the social network scene, with a broad user base and a fantastic catalog of all sorts of music. The playlist support is second to none, and finding playlists to follow is super easy and surfaced at the top of the interface, at least in the iPad version of the app. The What's New tab has recommended albums, trending playlists, and New Releases all visible and easily accessed. This, plus the fact that many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter seem to share Spotify links more often than Rdio is what keeps me interested in the service.
However, what Spotify also has is a horrible iPhone app. I started using it on iOS via the smaller app, and almost gave up hope. It wasn't until I opened Spotify on my iPad that I saw any use in using the service on the go. Why a universal app can't work the same on both the iPhone and the iPad, I don't know.
Rhapsody In Blue
Now here's a service that has always seemed more corporate to me, with a big, pretty iOS interface and plenty of new artists and albums to listen to and discover. The main page is set up with New Releases, Popular Artists, and Featured albums. The genre support here is great; I can find classical, jazz, and world music as easily as I can rock or pop.
On the downside, playlists are a decidedly single affair, as I can make them, but I don't see anywhere to find them. There's also no connection to Facebook or Twitter, making sharing my music listening or discovering that of my friends rather difficult. The show stopper here, though, came when I tried to open up the app on my iPhone, originally having set it up on my iPad mini. I got a message saying, essentially, that I had reached my "Device Limit," and that only one device at a time is supported. I could switch devices if I liked, but only one at a time is authorized for the Rhapsody service. Game over, which is too bad because it's a very pretty app.
I'm still going to stick with Rdio, because it looks and works the same on my iPhone as it does my iPad. The people I'm connected to on the service are all folks with eclectic, intelligent taste in music, and I really get a lot more out of following them and their playlists on Rdio. I wish it had better ways to discover playlists, and makes browsing by genre a bigger part of the interface, but the service is still my personal favorite.
Spotify is a close second, mainly due to the trending playlist and larger-seeming user base, at least within my social scene. I wish it was less song oriented and more about the albums, but that's more my own bias than anything significant with the service. If sharing songs with other folks is important, Spotify is a great choice.
Rapsody, sadly, while pretty, has the limitation on devices, as well as a more corporate look and feel, plus the lack of modern social network support. If none of those things matter, it's a decent service for the same price as the other two.
Bottom line, whichever service meets the needs of its individual users is the "winner," but I find Rdio to be the best of all worlds, and will probably stick with it for the time being, especially while the Spotify iPhone app is so awful.
Top Image: CNN Money
Rdio, one of my favorite streaming music services, has just updated its iOS app with a new interface, the ability to sync music across devices and apps, and--excitingly--a second screen feature that lets you control other Rdio apps (like the one on your computer, for example) from your iOS device. So cool!
Discover your next favorite song with Rdio, a service for streaming unlimited music—on-demand and ad-free—on your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. With over 18 million songs available and more added every week, you can immediately listen to popular hits, new releases and old favorites. When you’re in the mood to hear something new, follow friends, artists and tastemakers and let their favorites find their way to your ears. Build a playlist—solo or in collaboration with friends—then sync everything to your device for offline listening.
Touted by AOL, Inc as "the premier music application of 2011," PLAY plans on being a, pardon the pun, player in the current streaming music war for the hearts and ears of iOS and other mobile device users across the planet, hitting 250,000 downloads in the first three weeks on Android OS alone.
PLAY by AOL Music is positioned by the company to be a social music portal though which users can listen to music and share with friends. It's powered by partner Rdio, and interfaces both directly with users' own iPod/iTunes files on their device as well as with SHOUTcast radio and other AOL Music properties, like CD Listening Party and MP3 of the day. Non-Rdio members will be able to hear previews of tracks shared with them via the PLAY app, while those with an applicable Rdio membership will be able to listen to the whole song. All users will of course be able to buy songs shared with them on iTunes. While other apps help music lovers share what they are already playing, PLAY helps fans find music and THEN share it, a subtle difference in approach that may help this app become the more successful of similar app offerings.
Other features include adding custom album art to shared music, Facebook and Twitter integration for both discovery and sharing modes, and the ability to both tag and comment on shared music.
Whether this will become the definitive social music sharing app or service for consumers remains to be seen. Apple's own Ping service hasn't taken off, which could be attributed to a lack of interest in sharing music or just a limited Apple-only service. PLAY is cross platform and also powered by two of the larger brands in the space, AOL Music, and Rdio, one of our favorite streaming music services, facts which may, in part, help us all answer this little conundrum of the music sharing world.
On-demand social music app Rdio has added a new form of payment for their subscription service - you can now pay using your Amazon Payments account. Hurrah!
For those who haven't tried it yet, Rdio is a social music service from the founders of Skype that allows you to listen to as much music as you want through your iOS device as well as the web and your PC or Mac. You can build your online music collection from a catalogue of over 8 million songs while also checking out other people's collections and playlists, as well as see what's popular at the moment. Chris reviewed it favorably upon launch last year and a recent update has looked promising.
The app costs from $4.99 a month, which was previously only payable by Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Now you can let Amazon Payments handle it all, thus saving you from entering your card details on another source -something that's bound to be reassuring to many.
If you've not tried Rdio before, there's a 7 day trial available on the website for US and Canada based residents.