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Posted: June 7, 2012 7:23 p.m.

Tech trends: Music the Internet way

I love music. You love music. We all love music. Right? Well, if you listen to a lot of tunes and would like an affordable way to have an all-you-can-eat, so to speak, music buffet, look no further. In this week's Tech Trends, I will talk about a few of the most popular music streaming services.

Spotify
Spotify is one of newest music streaming services to come along (to the U.S. that is - it's been available in Europe since 2006). Yet, from my experience, it's my most favorite service I've tried so far.

Why do I like it so much? Try before you buy. Let's say you hear about a new album from a band you like. Do you just blindly buy it? What if it's awful? A waste of money, right? Well, that's pretty much what we've had to do in the past. Even with iTunes, you'd only get a 30-90 second preview of the songs, which might not be enough time to really tell if the album is worth the purchase.

Well, Spotify solves this. Just search for the artist, the album or song, and it will most likely be there since Spotify has licensing agreements with most major record labels (including the four major ones: Sony, Warner Music, Universal and EMI). Then simply listen away.

Another plus is that if you already have a big iTunes library, fear not, as the Spotify application that you install on your computer will import your iTunes music into your Spotify library.

Another great feature about Spotify is playlists. Make playlists of your favorite songs, playlists by artist or genre, whatever you like. Spotify also has a lot of social aspects built in, so you can share your playlists with other Spotify users or create collaborative playlists.

Rdio
Rdio is another music subscription service that is very similar to Spotify. Its main difference is that there is no free account (except for limited trial account when you first sign up). Therefore, there is no advertising whatsoever. I like that. You also have a web browser-based version, so you can access your Rdio library and playlists from anywhere.

The look of Rdio is a bit different compared to a more "traditional" music library app like iTunes. Spotify is more similar to iTunes in that regards, so perhaps that's why I prefer Spotify just a bit more than Rdio. Rdio is not confusing to use, just not as simple as Spotify or iTunes, I feel. The Rdio website and the standalone compute program you install on your computer look and function identically, which is a nice touch.

Both Rdio and Spotify offer a very similar catalog of songs - millions upon millions, but each service has some exclusive artists. So depending on who your favorite artists are, that could be a deciding factor. Here's where Rdio stands out a bit. Based on a December 2011 article from Wired magazine, of the top 100 most popular albums, nine of them are found only on Rdio, whereas only one is exclusive to Spotify. For instance, Pink Floyd and many Bob Dylan albums are only available on Rdio.


Pandora
Pandora Radio is bit different from Spotify and Rdio. As its name suggests, Pandora functions more like a radio station, except you have the ability to skip songs. Also, rather than giving you access to a plethora of songs to search for and play instantly, Pandora works by creating individual "stations." You first type in a song or artist that you like, and Pandora will create a radio station based on that and will play songs from that artist and other songs that are musically similar. For example, if you're in the mood to listen to some Miles Davis, Pandora will play that and similar songs in that one station. Don't worry about a Justin Bieber song popping up after "Spanish Key."

Pandora is therefore great as a "set it and forget" music service. You only really need to occasionally interact with it if you want to skip to the next track or pause the music. It's great for studying, reading or just as some mood music. My main dislike of the service is that if suddenly want to look up a song by a particular artist or want to just hear music from a particular album, I can't do that with Pandora.


William Brawley is the Electronic Media Producer for The Covington News. If you have any tech issues or other questions email him at wbrawley@covnews.com.

 

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