Streaming Music in Australia (at mine)
I posted about the new streaming services, spoiling Australian music fans for choice, last month and felt like updating you with some recent thoughts re: the pros and cons of each. I trialled Deezer, Rdio, JB Hi-Fi and Songl. Spotify was, I thought, going to be the clear winner. Last post I did not mention Grooveshark or Last.FM and Berkley based MOG had not been released in Australia. Rhapsody is still not available. The reality is that I am listening to a wider range of new music due to the rise of these inexpensive and innovative streaming services.
Firstly, my new SONOS system is now crucial to the way I listen to music at home. I operate all of the streaming services through the SONOS apps from my Macbook Pro, iPad or iPhone. These allow me to choose, as you can see below, from any number of the streaming services and add tracks or albums to a queue. It is possible to choose which room to have the music streamed or, indeed, have different music in each.
It is also possible to access music via the line-in so my old, large, iPods with their huge numbers of songs are still useful. SONOS works with time capsule and Audible too. I tend to search for music using the various streaming apps, favourite the songs or albums, adding them to playlists and then accessing via whatever SONOS device is handy, usually my iPad or iPhone.
On The Road
Once, whenever I waited or walked, carried out a banal domestic activity or caught public transport, I listened to music. Of course, when Sony was king, this was cassettes on a Walkman, then CDs, before having an MP3 player or iPhone. I do like the idea that, whenever the need arises, I can stream the music of the world – or most of it at least.
I do not tend to use any of my music streaming apps, on my iPhone, outside of the house. Nowadays the Audible app on my iPhone plays whatever audiobook is currently being ‘read’. It really does allow me to finish many more books each month than otherwise would be possible.
I assume, for most people, the streaming to a mobile device is essential and important. I would be interested to hear about your experiences with the apps.
I am not certain which I would choose as a sole subscription out of Rdio, Spotify or MOG. I like that the JB HiFi apps and website look great too (those ‘cassette mixes’ are cool), although sharing, via Facebook and Twitter, does not seem to feature, as it does for the other services at this stage. Rdio has a nice collaborative facility to co-create playlists but the apps feel rather plain. Rdio, along with Spotify seem to have the most advanced social features for sharing.
Spotify has a number of advantages, including some excellent add-ons. For example, a great feature is how easily a song, album or playlist can be streamed here at my blog via their play button generator (look right to sidebar).
I do feel disappointed with the look and layout of the Spotify Macbook Pro and iPad apps. The ‘what’s new’ section is just clunky and visually unappealing. However, the ‘app finder‘ is very cool and my favs are ‘The Guardian‘, ‘Pitchfork‘ and ‘We are Hunted‘ apps for trawling reviews and new music. More of my friends and acquaintances seem to use Spotify, linked via their Facebook pages, than any of the other services.
MOG, only available for the last fortnight or so, has surprised me. I like the website and the apps are superior to most of the others. I like the drag and drop playlist feature. The Mog Blog has good reviews of new music. I like the tone and the format, especially the list of links, at the end of each post, summarising the music discussed and with a click, sending you straight to the album. A few seconds later it is added to a playlist or favourited. The music is streamed at 320kbps and seems to be the best quality. I seem to use it more than the others at the moment and would probably choose it as my only subscription.
There does not seem to be a huge difference with the amount of music that is available between the different services. I suspected that Spotify had the largest catalogue and most subscribers – it does, here’s the breakdown.
Most punters, in my considered opinion, will prefer streaming 320kbps quality music via subscription services to buying from iTunes or illegally downloading music via bittorrent clients. Time will tell but as I said, in my original post, you can subscribe to three different services for the price of a CD in the 1990s. That’s a pretty appealing way to listen to the latest and greatest tunes available, whenever and wherever, the need arises.
I probably should have mentioned the first subscription download service I used, over a decade ago, was the superb eMusic. I was concerned about the legality of using the web to download music via Napster and eMusic was a good alternative (although they struck licensing issues in Australia) and the intelligent album reviews were truly impressive compared to the fluff that generally passed for music journalism.
Pandora was cool too.
UPDATE: Just found a recent review of music streaming in Australia, after writing this post, including some I am unfamiliar with at this stage. It is particularly cool that festivals are increasingly being streamed too.