Believe it or not, there was once a time that I actually purchased Compact Discs, better known as CDs, for all of my music needs. If I wanted a song, the best way to listen to it was to purchase the CD and rock it in my portable CD player (yeah, I was that cool). This meant that, if I wanted my entire library on hand for listening at any time, I also had to carry every CD with me.
Shortly thereafter, Apple released the iPod alongside its desktop music client, iTunes. This 'Pod allowed you to rip all of your CDs to your computer – baring you had enough HDD space – using iTunes and load all of your music onto a pocket-sized electronic device. You could carry all (or most) of your music everywhere with you and not have to pack hundreds of CDs into a book bag. Not long after, the music industry started to go digital. Using the iTunes Store, you could purchase all of your favorite albums from your computer and download it instantly, no more CDs to fool with.
Skip a few years ahead and we're now in the midst of a smartphone revolution. There were several different styles and approaches at first, but Apple's design stuck out among the crowd of devices. They fused a media device, a large, touchscreen display and a phone into one device. A novel idea that has once again changed the way we consume media, especially music. Since then, the mobile world has evolved immensely.
Sure, smartphones have built-in memory for media storage, but they also have access to wireless data networks. This means that loading your music onto the phone and reading it from memory isn't the only way to listen to your favorite music. Streaming Internet radio services like Pandora have emerged and cloud storage for streaming your own personal collection has also surfaced more recently.
Services like Pandora are great, especially because you can use them for free from virtually any data-enabled device. But the songs play randomly, for the most part, and commercials will periodically interrupt your stream (unless you're a premium user). Cloud streaming is also great. You keep your on-device memory free while still having your entire music library at your fingertips. Problem is, you can only listen to music that you already own and some services overcharge to stream your own music. There is no happy medium … well, there wasn't until yesterday.
Spotify just launched in the US yesterday (it's been available overseas for some time now). It's the next step in the music evolution, the Netflix of music streaming, but with a better selection. Essentially, you pay a premium fee ($9.99 per month) and can listen to any song as much as you want at any time (online or offline) without any ad interruptions from your mobile phone.
Just like Netflix, I've become addicted to Spotify in mere hours. Since signing up for the popular movie streaming service, my movie purchases have virtually stopped. Likewise, purchasing albums will become a thing of the past – for me, at least – since I can now stream any song that pops into my head in a matter of seconds. It would be hard to go back to the way it was before. That said, I'll keep Pandora on hand for similar artists discovery.
The obvious drawback to Spotify is that you pay for a music service and never really accrue a library of your own. If the service were to be shut down in a year's time, you will have spent $120 and have nothing to show for it, instead of the 10 or 12 albums you would have had for that amount of money. But that's not stopping me. I've been using the premium service since early this morning and I'm in love, there's no turning back.
With all of these new and improving music services for mobile music streaming, which do you use? Would you pay $10 per month to stream any song from your mobile device at any time? Or are you old fashioned and still buy CDs or digital copies and manually load them onto your phone?