Let’s get real. No matter how many people you hear talking about their coveted vinyl collections, streaming is how we listen to music these days. Four years ago, there were approximately 8 million people streaming, today: 41 million. There’s no doubt that streaming has won the music wars, but the next question is, which provider should you use?
At FLIPP, the majority of the team was partial to Rdio. Not only was the user interface clean and easy to navigate, but we also used the open-source API to create our own jukebox system, where we could create a playlist by requesting songs and, most importantly, vetoing other people’s requests. When the fall of 2015 hit and Pandora bought and shut down Rdio, it wasn’t exactly a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa, but, nonetheless we were devastated. And it seems we weren’t alone.
When we came to terms with the fact that there were no other streaming services with open API’s, we all went our separate ways in search of a new streaming service.
Now that we’ve time to adjust to our new streaming preferences here at FLIPP, we thought we’d take a look at who’s using what and why. With only dollar differences in price — we did a little digging, and here’s what we found out.
Eleven dollars, six FLIPPers , thirty million songs.
The majority of our team chose Spotify, and as only a team of designers and developers can do, we started tearing it apart immediately. First off, premium is the way to go. Otherwise you are perpetually on shuffle play, and that gets old real quick. It doesn’t have the most intuitive interface, often requiring multiple clicks to accomplish simple tasks. But music discovery is strong with the Discover Weekly playlist, a two-hour personalized playlist that Spotify builds for you based on your preferences and music you’ve saved. It’s frighteningly accurate. Seriously, try it. We use Spotify here at the FLIPP office, sharing a massive playlist which plays throughout the day, currently hosting a total of 100 hrs and 27 minutes of music. That’s four days without repeating a track.
#2. APPLE MUSIC
Ten dollars, four FLIPPers, thirty-seven million songs.
It’s a flat fee, but instead of media ownership like iTunes, it’s now essentially a virtual record store and efficient digital library. Three features that make Apple Music special: Beats 1, curated playlists and Connect. Beats 1 is about radio — streaming from across the world 24/7, interviews and worldwide broadcasts. Cool? Sure. So the whole curated playlist thing is all under the “For You” section of the app. Apple claims these playlists are made by real people, not algorithms. Connect is a social networking feature that lets fans follow artists, creating a space for these fans share with artists and vice versa. Oh and I should point out — there’s no free version. So there’s that. But, exciting news: Android users can access this service in the fall, and it will be available on Apple TV. We’re into that, seeing as our FLIPP Android count: 1. With four FLIPPers on board, we asked Emily why she chose Apple Music. She told us she’s long been committed to iTunes, and has bought all her music through Apple in the past — so the transition was logical and seamless.
Nine dollars, one FLIPPer, thirty-five million songs.
So that leaves Google Play. So we did some research, and figured, why not just ask Rita why she likes it? Her answer: the easy, natural transition from the rest of her Google “stuff.” We’re talking: Gmail, YouTube, etc. Also, she’s a sucker for uploading personal mixes that aren’t already online to stream from the cloud. Apparently Rita has “a lot of DJ friends”, so this provider just made sense. But from what we’ve discovered, it’s lacking music exploration, and the ability to share playlists is weak. Hence why Rita is sourcing her DJ friend pool. That’s a non-negotiable for us here at FLIPP. We like to share stuff. But it’s great for people with local files, and the ability to upload their collection to the cloud to seamlessly tie into their newly added content. But, a huge win for Google Play is that is encompasses a Rdio feature we miss — the ability to thumbs up and down songs to direct your music path.
So here we are six months after the end of Rdio, and none of the other streaming services available have singlehandedly replaced everything Rdio did well. Here’s hoping Pandora has a plan to relaunch the service sometime soon.