Streaming Music Services VS an iTunes Addiction

Music has been a huge part of my life for many years. I’m no longer a touring musician but I still play music as much as I can. Music is always playing in our house and I can’t imagine living life without it.

Time has changed the way I listen to music a lot. I came of age in the era of the CD, but ever since I got my first iPod I’ve relied almost entirely on iTunes for my music consumption. At this point I’ve amassed a collection that would take 43 days to listen to.

Subscription music services are appealing to me because of how much music I listen to music. Even if I’m not super into an album I like being to able to listen to whatever I’d like to without dropping $10 just to here a record. I like to hear what aritsts are doing as well as keep on the production styles artists are employing. Using services like Spotify, Rdio, or Mog this is (mostly) possible. This has led to a battle in my mind about how I will manage my music moving forward.

Currently, the majority of my music consumption takes place in iTunes. I use iTunes Match and my library is available to me on any of our computers or phones. However iTunes Match is far from the perfect cloud music solution and its been buggy for me from the start. During this time I’ve used streaming services as a supplement to my iTunes library, rather than my main music service. This is mostly because I’ve been unable to make myself jump in head first with any of the services. Choosing access over ownership is an easy decision with video, and I’m a huge fan of netflix, but music has some barrier in my brain that makes me want to own my music.

Still, I want to choose access over ownership. The next barrier I’ve been experiencing is that none of the streaming services are without irritating flaws.

Spotify

  • I know a ton of people using the service
  • It has a large catalog

but

  • I hate the UI/UX
  • I really hate the lack of a collection view
  • It forces you to use playlists as you’re sole version of organization
  • The mobile app is absolutely terrible, largely due to the fact playlists are the only organization used

Rdio

  • I love the UI/UX
  • The desktop app is great
  • The iPhone app is great
  • It lets me actually organize a collection of music apart from playlists

but

  • I can count on one hand the number of friends using the service, severely diminishing it’s social features
  • The audio quality isn’t very good
  • The catalog lacks some albums I love that are present on the other services

MOG

  • Best sound quality of the streaming services
  • Huge catalog
  • Excellent recommendation engine

but

  • Terrible desktop player
  • no library organization features on desktop
  • navigation in the iPhone app requires way too many taps

All things considered I enjoy the Rdio experience enough that I would make it my main music hub in a heartbeat if they improved the audio quality. Part of me wants to make the move anyway, but all the albums I own simply sound better in iTunes. I’ve been using MOG as a supplement for a while but their desktop player is severely lagging compared to the competition.

There’s really no conclusion to offer here. I continue to use iTunes while experimenting with different streaming services. The cloud aspect of the various services is far superior to iTunes match, but some of the nitpicks listed above can be frustrating. Its also nice to not have to worry about metadata and album art. Maybe someday my desire to break free of my desire for ownership and what I’d like to see in a streaming service will align.

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