I have a confession to make: I’m kind of obsessed with online music streaming services.
You’ve probably used one of these services. Most people seem to have tried Pandora at one point or another, the Internet radio service that designs a station around your favorite tracks. Walk around the Truscott Rossman office on any given day and I’m sure you’ll see Pandora up on someone’s computer. It’s a nice service – but there’s so much more out there.
Over the years, I’ve probably tried every streaming music service out there: Rdio, Rhapsody, MOG, Last.fm, Grooveshark – and more. I think these services offer a compelling proposition for music lovers, especially compared to purchasing individual albums. Instead of paying $9.99 to buy one album, I can pay that same amount monthly to stream whatever I want. Buy more than one album a month and chances are you’ll save.
It’s easy to listen to any of these streaming music services wherever you go, too. At home, I have my computer hooked up to my stereo system through a cheap RCA to 1/8” stereo adapter ($2 on Amazon).
For the car, I have a Bluetooth FM transmitter that streams music and calls from my phone through my car stereo. You can find one of those for as low as $40 online
. Compared to the cost of satellite radio for the car or all the CDs I would purchase otherwise, it’s money well spent to be able to stream music anywhere.
Today, the Swedish music service Spotify launched in the United States
. Spotify has long been considered one of the best streaming music services (with ten million users worldwide), but due to copyright restrictions, was never available in the States until now.
I signed up first thing this morning, and downloaded the Spotify app to my Mac and Android phone. Pretty slick so far. Spotify has licensing agreeements with most major record labels, so chances are the song you’re looking for is available. The sound quality is better than other streaming music services I’ve used, like Rdio or Rhapsody. Even with a nice pair of headphones, I can’t tell the difference between Spotify and a CD. I look forward to more people signing up for the service here, as Spotify integrates with Facebook and should have some cool social features to see what my friends are listening to.
So, why should you use Spotify over Pandora? Here are a few reasons.
- You can listen to any track you want, or any album you want. Pandora limits you to its automatically-selected tracks, and often has a lot of repeats. Spotify also has a radio feature that can automatically select tracks to listen to if you don’t want to make your own playlists. It’s great to have the option.
- Spotify has amazing apps for Mac and PC, so you won’t need to keep a web browser open all day for Pandora (or accidentally close a tab and lose what you were listening to). I haven’t been using Spotify long, but it comes the closest to replicating the iTunes experience of any player I’ve tried.
- Spotify makes it easier to learn more about the music you listen to, with integrated artist profiles from Wikipedia.
- The mobile app for Spotify works offline – so even if you're traveling through an area without a 3G connection, you can still listen to music.
Right now, Spotify’s free ad-supported version is still invite-only in the United States. You can sign up for an invite here. There are paid versions available for $5 a month (desktop only) and $10 a month (allows for mobile streaming). I highly recommend checking Spotify out – well worth the ten bucks in my opinion!
What do you think? Have you tried any of these streaming music services? Let me know in the comments!