Like most other people walking down the street, you’re listening to your favourite beats sounding from your headphones. But the likelihood that you’re listening to songs put together when you first began compiling MP3s is not very high – at least, not anymore. Why would you when these days you’re able to download an app for your mobile phone and BOOM – millions of songs at your fingertips. The uptake of radio/music streaming applications for smart phones is booming and the market can only grow. Even twitter has announced that they’re releasing a music app in the near future, but who are the big names out there now?
Spotify is probably the biggest player on the scene right now with a back catalogue of over 20 million songs and counting. It provides users with almost unlimited choice and lets you know what your Facebook friends are enjoying too. Simply type a song or an artist into the search function, click play and you have instant playback with quality sound.
But what if you don’t want to search for anything and just want music streamed to you? Simple. Subscribe to a playlist curated by others: users like yourself, a big name player in the music industry, or celebrities. Following playlists curated by others makes finding new music easy and enjoyable since you can choose playlists that are similar to your own music taste.
What about the price? Here is what Spotify says on their website:
Spotify Free – the unsurpassed, totally free music service. Enjoy free, on-demand, access to more than 16 million songs on your computer. No gimmicks. Just listen and love it, month after month after month. All Spotify users enjoy unlimited free, ad-supported music.
Spotify Unlimited – all the special features of our free service, but with uninterrupted, ad-free access to Spotify on your computer. All for only $6.99 a month.
Spotify Premium – the all-singing, all-dancing, top-of-the-range Spotify experience. Premium gives you access to all the music, all the time. Listen online or offline, on your computer, your mobile phone, tablet and a whole heap of other devices. Enjoy enhanced sound quality and access to exclusive content, competitions and special offers. Premium costs just $11.99 a month.
Pandora, using an algorithm based on the Music Genome Project, excels at helping you discover new music. This all works by how much the user interacts with the app, though. For example, if you just listen to the app and don’t say whether you like or don’t like a song or if you don’t skip songs, Pandora won’t get any better at finding songs you might like. If, however, you do give the thumbs up or down regularly, Pandora will quickly begin selecting new music for you based on your preferences. And that’s how your playlists are set up. Cool, right?
The app itself features a sleek user interface and you can switch between its menu tabs without much hassle as they’re more responsive then previous updates. At the top right, there is a minimise button that allows you to shrink the album art to uncover either artist’s bio, track information or even song lyrics – you know, just in case you want to sing along to a new song. Further, at the bottom of the screen you can swipe up a volume control slider and a new song progress timer.
How about ads? If you’re not a subscriber, there are ads. They come in the form of full thirty second clips that cover the screen and prevent you from interacting with the app. If you just leave your phone in your pocket, you’ll be stuck listening to thirty second clips. However, for a small subscription fee of $3.99 you can be rid of them.
Rdio allows its paid-up users to sync music to their phone for listening when offline. That means anytime, anywhere. And their music library is not small either with over 18 million songs available. Unsynced songs remain as part of your collection but they can only be heard when back online.
Being part of the Rdio community means that you can share music with other members as well as following their music choices in order to discover new music. This allows its users to find new music through various inlets because you can explore recent activity from random users and see what they’re listening to.
The price tag for Rdio ($12.90), however, can be a real barrier for some people, especially for those who have become accustomed to listening to music for free. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to pay the subscription fee then you’ll be getting a premium service that allows its users total control with their music selection. And no ads.