Some Thoughts on Music Services

You may have heard that a new music service has entered the fray. Well, it isn’t new, just new to the United States. It’s been in the UK for a while. It’s called Spotify. I took a look and quickly dismissed it. I have been using the Google Music beta and LOVING it, and felt Spotify had nothing to offer over this and/or Pandora Radio. After using it a little more, I may have been hasty. I don’t think it will replace either of those services for me, but I do think it could have it’s place. Below, I give a quick overview of each service, and some of the points I believe make each unique.

Google Music: I got in on this service fairly early (LOVE being an early adopter!) and almost immediately it became my music service of choice – to the point that I haven’t touched my iPod in a couple of months. Why? Google Music is everywhere I am. Because my music is on “the cloud”, I can listen to it on any computer, any where, on any browser. On the go, it automatically syncs to my Android phone. That’s why I haven’t needed my iPod. It also solves another long-time problem I’ve had – one device. I’ve loathed having to carry two devices (a phone and an iPod). Now I only have one.

Pandora Radio: I’ve enjoyed the Pandora service for a long time. It allows me to pick a song, artist, or genre of music and it will create a “radio station” of similar music for  me. I get to discover new artists, or hear old favorites, effortlessly. Pandora also lets me listen at my computer, or on my phone. The logic is smart, i.e. – it really does play everything in a similar vein as the station I created. But, with the incorporation of a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” button, I can easily tell it what I like and don’t like, and the service learns my preferences.

Spotify: You can also discover new music with Spotify, but it isn’t as “smart” as Pandora – one of the reasons I didn’t like it at first. However, I discovered something it does incredibly well that Pandora doesn’t – it will play all the songs from an album or artist. Pandora, by default, will only play different songs. Which is great, but here’s an example of the difference. Recently I wanted to listen to music from Star Trek (say what you will about me being a nerd, but the music from the shows and movies are excellent). I don’t own any of these soundtracks, so I have to go to Pandora. However, if I create a Pandora “Star Trek” station, it plays a Star Trek theme, but then starts playing music from different soundtracks (including “Fiddler on the Roof”, which I like, but wasn’t what I wanted for this station). However, with Spotify I can search for Star Trek and listen to an entire soundtrack, or create a unique playlist from different shows or movies. This does take a little more effort than Pandora or Google Music, but meets the need. Spotify does have a mobile option, but you have to pay for it.

And that’s what it comes down to for me: effort. Here is a summary of each, with the focus being on effort:

  • Google Music – MY music, when and where I want it. Period. It’s free (for now).
  • Pandora Radio – discover new music with little effort, when and where I want to. It’s free (unless you want to go add-less)
  • Spotify – Play (almost) any song, artist, or album but with some effort. Mobility costs extra.

Obviously this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just to give an explanation of why I may have dismissed Spotify too early. I also don’t’ have a firm understanding of everything Spotify offers. Over the next few posts, I want to dig deeper into each service and give a little in-depth explanation of each, with pros and cons.

Finally, if you want to try Spotify without having to wait for an invitation, click here.

What is your experience with Google Music, Pandora Radio, or Spotify? Maybe you use something altogether different?

  • Kylejohnson20

    Great intro to all three services. Like you I like to be an early adopter. I really like Spotify, however I can’t figure out the difference between it and Rhapsody, which has been available for years. Google Music seems to be cool, but I can’t use it on my iOS devices. That seems to be a misstep on Google’s part cause I would think others would be having issues like me. Keep on rockin’!

    • Thanks, Kyle. I will be posting a full review of Google Music soon. In it I do make the point that it is very Android-centric (obviously), but I did come across a post that said you can still use the web version on iPhone/iPod/iPad. Might be worth a try!

  • Joel

    Scott, have you tried Grooveshark yet?  I’ve been using it for a while now, and find it gets the majority of my time when listening to music.

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