Why Google’s All Access and Rdio Still Don’t Beat Spotify

Spotify logo
Spotify logo

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…

  1. 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
  2. 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…

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Apple One Step Closer To Entering The Streaming Music Market

Source

Apple is said to be close to signing a deal with Warner Music and Universal Music Group that would pave the way for its much-rumored streaming music service, according to CNET.

While details of the service remain fuzzy, CNET’s sources suggest that it will be a free service that is connected to iTunes and will work on mobile devices. Apple is reportedly negotiating for a per-stream rate as low as half that of Pandora, while also offering a cut of audio ads.

The report noted that the deals aren’t final yet, so nothing’s certain yet, but it suggested that papers could be signed in the next week.

Apple also seems to be moving aggressively to launch the service in several countries.

“Apple is hoping to quickly roll out in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia and Japan,” report author Paul Sloan wrote.

Assuming that the deals come into place, Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which is expected to take place in June, would be a fitting occasion to announce the new streaming service. Recent rumors have suggested that Apple is aiming to launch it this summer.

Given the connection to the iTunes Music Store, Apple has the potential to make it easy for streamers to buy music that they like as they listen. Though labels are interested in the possibility, it’s an unknown territory, since there’s no guarantee that consumers would purchase music from iTunes when they can keep streaming it for free. It’s not a good sign that Spotify and Microsoft didn’t have much luck with their efforts to sell music on top of streaming it.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is believed to have chatted with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine about a possible music streaming service. Beats announced last month that it had received $60 million in funding to spin off its Daisy music service, which is expected to arrive later this year.

The streaming music space is getting increasingly crowded. Spotify recently launched a coordinated marketing campaign in an effort to make further inroads in the US. Meanwhile, Rdio is not content with just music and has just launched Vdio, a new service for movies and TV shows.

For more details about Apple’s rumored music service, check out CNET’s original report.

Slacker Radio Redesigns It’s Look To Entice The Pandora-Weary

Slacker Logo
Slacker Logo

Pandora is the leader in streaming music mostly because it got there first. But use it for a while, and you realize the service’s catalog—not to mention its features—are limited. On paper, Slacker Radio is superior, and today, the five-year-old service is launching an overhaul aimed at proving it’s superior.

Editors Note: Pandora most definitely was not the first streaming “radio” service out there. But I’ll let that slide.

 

Slacker Radio is Internet radio by people not drones. That’s the pitch anyway. It’s got some 250 DJ curated stations plus a slew of specialty and genre channels. The idea is that regardless the on-demand offerings of services like Spotify and Rdio, users don’t really want to think too hard about listening to music most of the time. They want radio—and radio in the truest sense, which means you put on a station you like and let a DJ who knows what they’re doing take care of the rest. Slacker thinks it can deliver a satisfying experience where all you need to do is press play.

Editors Note: My fave genre station is ChillOut (Non Vocal)

In large measure, the site’s overhaul is cosmetic. The old outdated look, has been replaced by a fresher design in blue and grey. The navigations of the apps and web interface is intuitive and easy. There are also some new additions including a “Fine Tune” feature that allows you to skew what you’re hearing using sliders and some instantly intuitive tag-cloud logic.

As with Pandora, you can favorite songs, create stations based on certain artists. There’s a free, ad-supported radio membership that allows you six skips an hour as well as a $4 per month plan that lets you cache your radio for offline play, and does away with the ads. As with Spotify, there’s an on-demand music plan so that you can listen to whatever you want for $10 a month. Where’s Pandora’s on-demand option, anyway?

I’ve been using the new Slacker for about a week now, and so far, it’s the best internet radio experience I’ve tried. Specialty stations like “Dive Bar Jukebox” that mix up contemporary indie, with soul classics and 80s new wave are just way more fun than anything Pandora, Spotify, or anyone else has to offer. But we’ll see how it holds up after some long-term use. More importantly, we’ll see whether it’s enough to sway people from the comfortable experiences they’ve already got. [Slacker Radio]

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