I thought I’d write a little summary on current media services I use, and why. I have mostly stopped buying music pressed on plastic discs, and the amount of movies I buy on-disc has also gone down. However that does not mean I don’t pay for my entertainment. Well on to the services.
I used to use Spotify actively, mainly due to their very good selection of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and iOS-app, which has enabled me to completely stop syncing music from my computer. I was a premium subscriber for over a year, and the service (which cost around the price of 1 CD per month) was awesome. I used Spotify apps everywhere; iPhone, iPad, Mac, Linux (still a shamefully shoddy version though), and on Squeezebox. In addition to EDM, Spotify also features a more than good enough selection of “kid friendly” Norwegian music. When I checked out Rdio though I moved on..
A few annoyances with the Spotify iOS app, and a constantly hopeless experience on Linux made me very ripe for a migration when I was introduced to Rdio. Rdio is a very similar service to Spotify, it generally has a comparable selection of music to stream, has about the same quality and cost the same for a mobile-enabled subscription.
Where Rdio differs is firstly in the quality of its apps. If you are on desktop, you can just use a normal web-browser to stream, or download a prepared Site-Specifc-Browser “app” that will give you a similar experience to the Spotify app. It does not have indexing of local media as an option though, so if you use that you’re out of luck. On iOS the app is a lot more snazzy design-wise, also it correctly purges content you no longer want synced offline (you can select what content to mobile sync from the app/web too).
Secondly, Rdio lets me build a “collection” of albums and artists. By doing so I get notifications of new music from these artists, and I can easily browse my subset of all available music. This mode of browsing is highly preferable to the search focused Spotify experience to me.
Soundcloud has mostly taken over the role Myspace had as a channel for artists to share their tunes, demos, live-recordings, DJ-mixes etc. I know there are some issues concerning takedowns of more mainstream DJ-mixes, and that everything is not perfect in the Soundcloud, but for me it works very well as a nice way to keep in touch with my favourite artists and their work. I pay for a premium service here too, but would probably not if it wasn’t for wanting to share my own DJ-sets. As a consumer the service works very well without a subscription. Their iOS-apps are workable, but not nearly as polished as Rdio, and have no way to utilize downloads/off-line storage as far as I know.
This used to be a lot higher on my list of services I used actively. But due to their very limited streaming capabilites and somewhat lackluster selection of hosted music I quit being a paying subscriber of Last.fm, and instead use it solely as a place to aggregate my listening statistics, and keep up with what others are listening to. The Facebook/Spotify-connected service has filled some of this need lately, but my Last.fm connections are still a source of interesting finds every now and then.
There are several issues with Bandcamp. One being that it has a very limited function for gifting music, or sharing CC-marked material, which is a shame really, as that would probably have made the service more interesting for both artists and fans. As it is Bandcamp provides a smooth way for me to pay the artists directly for FLAC downloads, and I highly prefer this model to Beatport (see below). Recently Bandcamp improved their music discovery options by introducing “My Bandcamp”. This allows me to track other peoples buying etc. and is better than not having any such features at all. It’s still no “Amazon for Music”, but getting better.
Despite exorbitant prices, there is still no way to get around Beatport. The wide amount of EDM available through Beatport is mostly unmatched, even if one can often find tracks elsewhere. For the widest array of artists and tracks in lossless quality, it’s hard to beat Beatport though.. The website is almost workable too, but there are so many problems with the often half-assed approach to meta-data, and classification that it’s hard not to get a bit frustrated. I mean, when I pay more for a digital download than for a CD-copy (incl. shipping) I think I deserve proper metadata and the feeling that someone at Beatport cares enough to ensure classification remains somewhat appropriate?
While Beatport pushes material from any established artist, for the fresh stuff in my niche genre(s) I rely on Ektoplazm. An awesome source of free music, often free as in CC-licensed (type of CC license varies) too. And, just because it’s free doesn’t mean it features music that is worthless. Far from it, Ektoplazm often delivers music that is way more interesting than the commercial releases. I am sure there are other sites like Ektoplazm in other genres, or at least I hope so, as everyone deserves a service like this.