Friday, August 19, 2011

Reconsidering Online Music Streaming

 A few months ago while assessing the new streaming music options at the time (Amazon Cloud Player, the presumed Apple alternative) I came to the conclusion that they all fell short of my preferred method of streaming, the Subsonic Music Player. 

Today I am still using Subsonic as the primary method of streaming my home collection of 47k MP3’s, but have embraced some online services as complementary options as well.

Back when record stores were at the height of their power and people lined up outside at midnight to get copies of the new Guns ‘N Roses or Metallica releases (believe it or not, this really happened) one of the biggest issues that chain stores especially came up against was people wanted to return albums because they didn’t like them.  Stores began to setup listening stations in the store, with some chains going so far as to allow customers to listen to any CD in the store.

Fast forward to today and the options for the consumer mostly consists of listening to 30 second blurbs of songs on ITunes or Amazon and trying to decide whether or not this is something that’s worthy of your cash.

After reading about all of the new services that allow you to listen (and in some cases sync to your mobile) full albums, I signed up for a trial account of Rdio 4-5 months ago and quickly realized that this is today’s answer to that age old question – how do I try before I buy(with a slight fee)?

For as little as $4.99 a month you can subscribe to the desktop only version of Rdio or Spotify or MOG (I’ve since switched from Rdio to Spotify, you can read why here) and listen to whatever your heart desires (with some exceptions of course, mostly revolving around artists whose rights they don’t have access to). 

I’ve since upgraded to the $9.99 plan which gives me mobile access and a real ability to test drive new releases for a couple of months if I want before actually buying the albums to own.  It also allows me to wait out Amazon sales on MP3’s which in some cases allow you to buy the full albums for under $5.  For someone who still buys a lot of albums, this is a home run and something to consider.

I’d love to hear other uses people have found for online music services that maybe I haven’t thought about, fire away in the comments!

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