Spotify, others bring new musical revolution

By Tappan Parker

Courtesy of mediamemo.com

Imagine you are at lunch with your friends, talking about music.

One of your friends mentions a band they really like and recommends you check them out. You promise to, filing the name of the band into the back of your head for future reference. You may or may not check them out, depending on whether you want to take the effort to find their songs on YouTube and if you like them, actually going ahead and downloading them, probably illegally, to your computer.

It’s more than likely you have found yourself in this situation a number of times. It’s a bit of a hassle, and worst of all it’s unlikely to benefit the artist if you are downloading the music illegally. Let’s admit it, college students don’t really have the money to buy all the music they want to listen to and it’s a problem. But what can we do?

Finally, there are solutions to this problem.

They are in the form of new Internet music players that allow you to legally listen to millions of songs of your choosing with the click of a button and support the artists at the same time. There are currently a few of these players out there, all of which have their own pros and cons.

The best of these services so far is Spotify. It already has over 10 million songs and is growing by 10,000 more everyday. It also is free. That’s right, free, or at least as free as you can get with a music player that allows you to listen to any song you want in its extensive collection and still pay the people making the music. You can even share your playlists with your friends and it runs well, offering a program that is better than iTunes.

But there are a few catches with Spotify. When using the free version you have to deal with advertisements and you can only listen to 20 hours a month.

However, if you choose to pay a monthly subscription, you can get Spotify ad-free in addition to a few other perks, such using it on your iPhone and downloading your playlists locally in case you want to go offline.

Free and paying members of Spotify can play music already on their computer with Spotify. So far, a number of major and minor record labels have signed up with Spotify, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal.

But there is one more piece of bad news. Spotify is currently only available in Sweden, Spain, Norway, Finland, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Spotify is expected to launch in the United States by the end of the year though, so you may be able to try it out by Christmas.

The other player you will want to pay attention to is Rdio, a music service backed by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the people behind Skype and Kazaa. Rdio is similar to Spotify in many respects, but three things currently separate them:

One-Rdio only offers a 3-day trial of its services before you have to pay a subscription fee.

Two-Rdio doesn’t have as many songs as Spotify and is missing quite a large number of Indie artists.

Three-Rdio is already available in the United States.

There is another competitor in the States: MOG.

MOG currently offers over nine million songs and is almost identical to Rdio and Spotify. MOG has actually been around for almost two years now, but its functionality is not as clean as Spotify’s yet. MOG does have a feature that allows users to listen to artists similar to the one they are currently listening to, allowing for a Pandora-esque experience. MOG currently offers a 14-day trial of its music service, a significantly longer period of time than Rdio’s.

We7 is another service, fully available in the British Isles and with limited content in other areas. Unlike Spotify, Rdio and MOG, the service is completely free and you do not have to register to use it, but you do have to deal with ad blips at the beginning of each song. Recently they adopted the premium model, allowing users to pay a fee to get rid of ads. They also claim to support the artists through ads better than any music streaming service out there.

All of these music subscription services are available for less than the price of an album per month. These services are much more convenient than current methods of finding music and allow you to take them with you on the go if you own a smart phone. Meanwhile, by using these services you are still supporting the artists. So isn’t having access to all this music worth a monthly fee?

Richard Parker can be reached at [email protected]