The ways we enjoy music have changed so much over the last decade that it’s almost impossible to keep pace with the industry. The latest obstacle we had to overcome was the storage problem – where do I keep those gigs an gigs of music I’ve acquired over the years? Now we’re moving away from acquisition altogether, hurtling instead toward a musical world in which we rent someone else’s library month-by-month for a flat fee. And you know what? I love it.
I know. For a lot of music freaks that sort of concession is cardinal sin, but it works for me. I’m not the type to savor rare recordings and unplugged albums. I want quick access to a wide range of music, and that’s exactly what today’s streaming services give me. The good ones also provide some ways for me to discover new music without a whole lot of work. I know, I’m lazy. I’m exactly what true music lovers hate. I’m little more than a parasite feeding off the knowledge and expertise the real fans have taken years to cultivate. But hey, at least I’m aware of it, right?
This post is for people like me, the average music enthusiast. I’ve spent some time with the major streaming services out there and come away mostly impressed. I’ll breakdown the good and bad of each and, hopefully, give you some guidance on your quest for the perfect streaming service.
There are some basic criteria we need to be clear on before I talk about specific services. For one, this isn’t exactly an oranges-to-oranges comparison. Each of the major streaming services is trying to differentiate itself from the other. Any streaming service should be able to provide the basics, though, which look a little something like this.
First, selection. When you give up the search for hard copies of music, streaming selection becomes hugely important. Your streaming service should be able to provide music that suits your tastes, and hopefully a few things that don’t. You know, just in case you get bored.
Second, user interface. Both finding and accessing your music should be quick and easy. That’s the whole point of a streaming service – quick, easy access to a vast supply of audio pleasure.
Lastly, access. What’s the point of a streaming service if you can’t access it from multiple devices? If digital music can be on your home machines, your phone and in your car, your streaming service should be able to do the same, preferably with some offline functionality in the event you’re away from an internet connection.