My choice of music services (fall 2014)

Here’s an update of a previous post I’d written about what music services I use.

These days, my choice of music/audio services include:

TuneIn Radio

I’ve written about TuneIn Radio before. TuneIn’s quite useful in letting me listen to NPR streaming audio on my phone. The Pro version is only a dollar, but gets rid of the ads. The Pro version also lets one record radio broadcasts, if one’s interested in such.

Pandora

For keeping up on current music, Pandora’s streaming audio service is very convenient. While I’ve tried Spotify and Google Play Music All Access, Pandora was easier to use than Spotify and, unlike Spotify/All Access, is free. The one flaw is the limitations on skipping audio tracks (even if you pay for the non-free version, apparently).

YouTube

I’ve used YouTube to try out listening to new songs/musicians, before deciding whether to buy their singles/albums. It helps that many musicians (or their record labels) have put their music videos on YouTube.

Amazon MP3 Store

Amazon’s music store, unlike iTunes, is both cross-platform friendly (including some Linux support/compatibility) and usually cheaper. Amazon will often have frequent sales, discount credits, or free songs. While I still would prefer lossless tracks over lossy ones, Amazon is convenient and inexpensive.

A recent addition to Amazon is that if you opt to buy CDs, their “AutoRip” service automatically give you free MP3 versions of the album, which some might find convenient.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music is Google’s music store/player service, and Android’s default answer to Apple’s iTunes. The prices for singles/albums on Music’s store are comparable to other stores. Its premium version, “Google Play Music All Access” (what a mouthful), is also comparable to subscription services like Spotify.

Along with the above, Google will let you upload/match for free your entire music collection (up to 20,000 tracks) and store the songs in your Music account. This lets one carry one’s entire music collection on the go, plus access it from pretty much any device. The last one brings me to one other advantage of Music—it’s cross-device compatible.

I use Music for accessing my music collection from any of my devices, particularly my phone and Chromebook. Lately, I’ve also used it on my Mac for the playlists I’ve set up in Music (same ones available on my phone, of course).

iTunes

Given cheaper places to buy music from, the only audio features I use iTunes for is either for streaming audio (Blackhawks games on Chicago’s WGN-AM) or for NPR podcasts (episodes of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”). I also sometimes use it for playing my music collection, though currently my  playlists aren’t as updated as the ones in Google Play Music. Otherwise, I use iTunes for playing my video collection on my Mac.

Freegal

Freegal is a service run by Sony that leases to public libraries their digital music library as free-to-download MP3 files to library patrons. (For a price to libraries, and thus taxpayers, of course, which might raise its own issues.) The service lets one download and keep several free MP3 singles per week to anyone with a library card; here in Seattle, I can download five free MP3s per week.

Of course, libraries still carry a vast range of CDs for checking out, but Freegal still might appeal to some.

Conclusion

That’s my current music situation. Google Play Music, Pandora and iTunes get the most usage, though the other options listed are also convenient when needed.

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