I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M SAYING THIS, BUT THERE IS A FAR BETTER MUSIC SERVICE THAN ITUNES
As an avid Apple product fan and music lover, I can’t even believe it myself saying that I have found a much better music service than iTunes, but I have and I’ll let you in on what it is and explain how music lovers can benefit.
For the longest time I couldn’t pry myself away from iTunes and my iPod. I always wanted to own my own music so I could do with it as I please. If someone wanted a copy of what I had in my collection of tunes, I could share it with them. I also wanted my entire music collection on a single device and take it wherever I would go.
But there was one big issue I could never get over, I had to pay for each song or album. Now if you are someone that may hear a song on the radio every so often and what a copy, money isn’t an issue. Pay the $.99 and your done. But if you’re like me and have a ton of music you want to purchase, this starts chipping away at your bank account fast. So needless to say I am WAY behind on my music collection due to the costs. What’s the solution? Well, it’s hard for me to say, but renting some one’s entire music collection for a monthly cost.
I think we are starting to get into the era of streaming music from our mobile devices and the old hard drive music players are on their way out. Even Apple’s biggest iPod, the iPod classic, is starting to see big decreases in sales and I think they will start looking at discontinuing them.
Here’s my thinking behind this whole renting thing. Let’s say you just purchase one album at $9.99 a month, what do you get….one album. Sure it’s yours, but in my years of owning my music I’ve only burned a couple of albums for others to listen too. So, if you’re like me, I could spend about $25 or more a month just getting caught up on old music I want and also new releases. And, I would be paying for music the rest of my life. That’s going to leave a mark for sure.
So, I changed my thinking. I could rent a music collection of 13 million plus songs and have all of my music on one device just as I wanted for $9.99 a month. And the best part is, they keep adding music to their collections weekly. Honestly this seems like a no brainer and should have thought of this a long time ago.
So let’s take a look at the top three music collections for streaming music on the iPhone and what I found.
I checked this one out because it just came out in the U.S. and people were raving all over social media about it. I took it for a free trial spin and only after about two days cancelled this one. Their music collection is only about 11 million right now. I checked out one of my favorite country music artists that has been out since 1993 and they only had one of their albums. Moving on……..I checked out more of my favorites and found a lot of albums missing. Sure their collection will grow with time, but does me no good right now. So as far as I’m concerned, Spotify just ain’t all that.
This service I had read about searching Google for the top music streaming services. I went ahead a got on board for the free trial. I have to admit this seemed like the one. I really like their iPhone app, simple and easy to use. You could add any song or album to your favorites and listen to them whenever you wanted. The streaming part was great, no hiccups and sounded great. It also has a feature that allows a play queue, so it was really like a on the go play list, which you could clear out at any time. Also, it has a feature that when you play a song, it lists other songs in that genre that might appeal to you. Pretty cool for finding new music, but only suggests up to about five or six songs. One downside, which didn’t really matter to me, but may for you is that you cannot create play lists from the iPhone app. You have to create play lists on your computer that automatically syncs to the iPhone app. There music collection is quite impressive too, although it is missing some of my favorites.
I really had forgot about this little gem, until a friend of mine reminded me of it. I had read some reviews about their iPhone app and weren’t that great. Reviews were saying that it crashes a lot which is not good if your streaming music and can be a huge issue, one that could stray customers away. So I dug a little deeper and found that their music collection was even a bit better than MOG. So I had to try it to see what their iPhone app features were and if the reviews were true. I have found that it will sometimes crash, but nothing significant and doesn’t get annoying. The one thing I found that MOG is better than Rhapsody is when you are looking at an artists album within Rhapsody, some of the songs are greyed out and you can’t play them. This is because you can’t stream or play them unless you purchase them. This could be a problem if there was a certain song you wanted off the album. It’s not often and I haven’t came across a “had to have song” that was greyed out. Their iPhone app is pretty slick and has a lot of features that MOG doesn’t. You can create a play list right from within the app. Another feature I use often to find new music is a feature called related artist. Once you click on a singer you can go to the related artist tab to find additional related music. Very cool.
These three services are a like in many ways and it really depends on ones own preferences. So as you may tell, after trying all three I went with Rhapsody for the $9.99 per month option. This allows for you to use it on your computer and up to one mobile device. You can opt for the $14.99 per month and it allows you to use it on up to three mobile devices. The only problem is you can’t stream music at the same time on all three devices. So don’t think you can load it on to your spouses or friends device and all enjoy streaming music, won’t work.
The biggest limitation you will have for streaming music is your data plan. If you have an unlimited plan you should be ok. Although this may put you into a pinch because cell phone companies are now throttling unlimited data plans. This means if you are within the top 5% of their data users per month and you hit a certain usage ceiling, they will slow your speed down to a crawl after hitting that mark for the month. After that month is up, you get your top speed back until you hit the ceiling again and so on. The only good part is, if there can be in this situation, is the company should let you know if you are getting into that 5% and you are getting close to having your speed downgraded for that month. I have an unlimited data plan and use my iPhone for simple things like browsing the internet and email. I also steam music for about 4-6 hours per day and have never received this type of notification from my cell phone company. I have checked and as of January 24, 2011 I have used 2.7gb of data on my unlimited plan and my billing cycle doesn’t end until February 11, 2011. So we will see if I get a notification and what this ceiling may be.
If you do have a limited data plan, streaming music may not be an option for you and you would have to download your songs to your device for listening. Each one of these three services allows for unlimited downloads so that won’t be an issue, except for your a limited to the data storage on you device. Below I have included a chart so you can see how much data you will use if you stream music.
Here’s how many hours of music streaming you can do on a 2GB data plan.
96kbps (Radio Quality) — 45.76 hours of streaming per month
160kbps (3G Quality) — 27.52 hours of streaming per month
320kbps (CD Quality) — 13.79 hours of streaming per month
I believe all three services are the same. If your streaming on your 3G data plan it plays at 160kbps. If your are streaming on a WiFi network, it would be at the 320kbps. But on a WiFi network you shouldn’t be using any of your data plan, so this should only come into play while using your 3G data plan. Keep in mind this is just streaming music and doesn’t include data for anything else you may use it for.
As a side note. Streaming music does eat up battery life, so have some type of charging device handy. Although I have noticed it doesn’t drain it as quick as when I listen to the radio using TuneIn Radio.
What’s your thoughts? Is there any top notch service I have left out? Leave a comment and let me know your experience or opinions.
UPDATE: It looks like data throttling is set to around 5gb per month on an unlimited plan. Although looking at some of the tech blogs, once you reach this limit still doesn’t mean that you will start seeing a drop in network speed. The company states that throttling is based on a case by case scenario built around many factors. See the pictures below, I reached the 5gb mark and received the text from hell stating I was now in the top 5% of users and had to use wifi to avoid reduced network speeds. The day the text came in was the last day of my billing cycle, but I did test the speed and my iPhone was still seeing some highend speeds on 3G.
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