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I’ve always had iTunes loaded up onto my computers. Whether or not I actually always used it, though, is for another topic entirely. But it’s always been there. What I’ve used instead, more than anything else, is Zune Software. I’ve owned all the Zunes over the years (not that there were many to pick up, obviously), and I grew to love the subscription-based service. I download a lot of music, so a subscription-based download service makes sense for me. However, Zune Software doesn’t work on a Mac without Windows also installed, and so I’ve had to let it go as of recently. In its absence, I had plenty of people tell me about Spotify and Rdio, and so I decided to take them both for a spin.

Actually, it wasn’t voluntary, going from one to another. I tried Spotify first on the iPhone 4S, because Spotify was the one I had heard about most, and that most people talked about. After all, there had been all sorts of people clamoring to get their hands on it here in the States for quite some time, so I figured if I couldn’t use Zune Software anymore, I might as well try out the one that everyone seems to love.

And so I subscribed, which runs $9.99 every month. With it, you get the ability to download as much music as you want, and if you have a phone that has a Spotify app, an unrestricted ability to play your music from your phone. A good deal, especially considering up until the transition I was paying $14.95 for Zune. So, I subscribed and started downloading music.

Before I continue, I feel like this should be obvious, but I’ll point it out anyway. This is my personal use with the software. Yours will probably differ. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Anyway, after I got the majority of my music downloaded, I started to play it right from my computer. Just by the luck of the draw, I stumbled upon an edited track. I skipped it, thinking it was a fluke, but it didn’t take long before I found another one. After I dug into my library, there were more than a few albums that had downloaded that were amended, rather than “explicit.” While that may not bother some people, it’s a pretty big deal for me because I hate edited music. It didn’t take long to go back and search for the albums I needed and redownload them un-edited, but it was just a pain.

At the same time, I tried Rdio. This particular service costs exactly the same as Spotify, and you get the same features: $9.99 a month for unlimited music to download, and the ability to listen to your music to your heart’s content on your phone, thanks to a Rdio application. What caught me right off the bat was the difference in layouts and options. Syncing music to be available offline in Spotify isn’t hard, but it isn’t all that intuitive, either. In Rdio, you just click on the small drop-down bar and you’ve got options to add a track to your collection, or to make it available for mobile. Easy.

However, back when I was initially trying this, Rdio had a restriction on music that you could listen to using the app. I’m pretty sure it was 25 songs at a time. That was a big deal because i obviously have more than 25 songs, and when I hit the random feature, I don’t want to just hear the same music over and over again. Spotify was much better at the time for random music listening, but Rdio has since fixed that “flaw,” and I can’t really complain about it anymore.

Both the Spotify and Rdio desktop applications for Mac are great, but Rdio’s is better, especially when searching for new music. The biggest differentiator for Spotify is the integration with applications, which broaden your music search, or any other number of things.

Truth be told, in my opinion, neither one of them comes close to Zune Software. Especially when it comes to options for music to download. Zune’s library is pretty awesome, while there are plenty of albums that I wasn’t able to find on either Rdio or Spotify.

However, since I can’t use Zune Software anymore, I have to choose one of them. For the time being I think I’m sticking with Rdio, but I’m not completely sold on it. Spotify could very well come back and steal my attention all over again. A small part of me wishes that I could still use Windows Phone, had a Windows-Based PC, and could take advantage of Zune Software, but it's just not winning anymore.

Do you use a subscription-based service to listen to music? If so, which one, and why? Let me know in the comments below!

 


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