It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the music industry is moving more and more towards the streaming model. The music industry is basically posing 2 questions to the general music buying public:
Would you prefer to…
- Purchase only those songs and albums that you want to hear at a price of $0.60 – $1.29 for a single song or $7 – $15 for an album
- Pay a monthly fee of $7 – $10 and get access to all the music in that store’s catalog
It seems like the “powers that be” are betting on the streaming model. Now the problem becomes which service should customers choose. Companies currently offering this model are Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Slacker, and (most recently) Google Play Music All Access. Apple is also planning on joining the crowd with a service being referred to as iRadio.
I’ve actually used all of these services, or at least the parts I could evaluate for free. Not counting Apple’s iTunes/iRadio since it hasn’t been released yet. I’ve determined that Spotify beats all the other for one main reason: They don’t limit you. Spotify allows you to listen to any song in their catalog for free at any time and even build playlists as long as you don’t mind hearing a commercial after every 2 or 3 songs. Rdio and Google only offer the trial model, letting you listen to any song in their catalog for 30 days before they block you out (requesting payment) and limit you to 30 second samples. Rdio allows you to make playlists but if you don’t pay they’ll put all that in a choke hold and limit every song to 30 seconds.
Slacker, in my opinion, is way better than Pandora because it has a nicer user interface and better stations. However, Slacker (like Pandora) doesn’t allow you to control what songs you want to hear or when you want to hear them without you paying first. Pandora is actually the worst of the bunch and they have a history of not paying artists royalties. Pandora has even gone far enough as to ask Congress to decrease the amount of royalties they have to pay artists.
So, Spotify’s ad-supported full length streaming plus the ability to make playlists is what makes them stand above the others. Spotify only limits those customers trying to listen via a smart device, which (again) is acceptable compared to how the other services limit you.
Something I’ve been personally doing is using Spotify to discover new music. Here’s how I do that:
- First, I might hear a song on FM radio, whether I’m listening to an FM station in my car or if I’m using an app like TuneIn or MixCloud. While I’m listening to the song playing, if I like it, I’ll open the SoundHound or Shazam app I’ve intalled on my iPod and try to identify the song playing.
- Sometime after I’ve “tagged” the song with Shazam or SoundHound, I’ll hop on Spotify and search for that artist/song/album and enjoy listening to all their work. I’ve discovered tons of new music doing this.
- Another thing I’ll do: If I’m on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, or any other physical/digital store where music is sold. I’ll see something that I want to listen to in full, before I purchase it, and I’ll head over to Spotify to listen to it in full. I do this because (as most know) you can only hear a 30 second sample in the digital stores and you can’t hear it at all in a physical store. Spotify makes purchasing music less of a gamble.
Of course, I’m not even touching on the concept of music ownership. But that’s for another blog…