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Mobile App Review: Getting Down With Streaming Music Apps
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Mobile App Review: Getting Down With Streaming Music Apps - Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Getting Down With Streaming Music Apps

Executive Leadership Articles

Mobile App Review: Getting Down With Streaming Music Apps

Taking your music with you is a better experience now than ever before, and while many of us still load our smartphones with playists or our latest purchases and others of us still pack both a phone and an iPod, more and more people are switching to streaming services for at least their on-the-go listening needs. Not only do they free up all that space on your phone for more apps, but they give you access to much larger libraries than you could reasonably carry. Streaming music has been with us for decades, but it still feels like new territory as competitors carve out their spaces, so in case you haven’t yet taken the plunge, here’s a quick review of the types of services out there. In a later review, we’ll zoom in and take a closer look at the differences between the major providers.

For streaming music, the big players are Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, LastFM, Amazon Music, and Tidal. These services are very generally the same with variations: enormous libraries that let you stream for free but limit your options and play commercials between songs. Each offers different tiers of premium membership, offering some combination of no commercials, listening to any song you want at any time, downloading music for offline listening, family plans, and in the case of relatively new Tidal, higher-quality audio. Most offer radio-type listening based on a song, album, or artist you like, with the ability to skip tracks for paying members.

Prices are pretty similar, usually around $10 per month for the full range of goodies, but the nice thing is that first-time members can usually sign up for free trials of 30 to 90 days. The interfaces are pretty similar and easy to navigate, so our experience has been that it’s worth trying each service offering a free trial, and then settling into whatever works best for whatever reason. On a practical, day-to-day level, they’re pretty much the same.

An altogether different category of streaming music streams certain terrestrial radio stations, usually through agreements with radio networks. Although many have some features in common with Spotify and similar services, their focus is largely on over-the-air stations. Leaders in this space include TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Radiolicious, and Stitcher. TuneIn claims to offer 100,000 broadcast radio station and four million on-demand programs and podcasts. These services are a great option for people who miss the radio stations of their hometowns, or don’t live in the markets their favorite sports teams play in. Even listening to local stations can be an improved experience on the radio apps, since they’re less susceptible to reception-related problems. For those who love the whole radio-listening experience, at least one of these apps is a must for a mobile device. Some offer premium memberships, as well, for access to special content, such as sports broadcasts through arrangements with professional sports leagues.

It’s worth exploring some of the fringe services as well, especially if you’re the adventurous type. Bandcamp and Soundcloud both have apps to go with their excellent websites. Not only do they offer DIY artists streaming platforms for their indy and underground music, but they are often the breeding ground for the next movements in music or even the next big artists themselves. Some established bands, eschewing the old record label system, are releasing music on their own on these platforms, a great deal of which is free. Bandcamp is specifically about music and musicians, but Soundcloud is more like a social repository for anything sound-related. Snippets of songs in progress, recordings of ambient noise in a bus station, podcasts, and entire albums can be found there. In this respect, Soundcloud is a kind of YouTube for strictly-audio sharers and listeners.

Whatever your musical colors, there’s probably a mobile app streaming what you’re looking for. Sure, there are some drawbacks, such as the fact that premium memberships are basically music as a service, rather than something you own, so after ten years (about $1200), if you cancel your membership you don’t actually own any music. On the other hand, it equates to $2.50 per week to hear anything you want whenever you want with no commercials, the kind of distraction-free customizability that, if it were possible, we might all pay our local radio stations. Is streaming music for you? Get the free apps and try them out; you may be surprised at how they give you fresh years even on old favorites.


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Mobile App Review: Getting Down With Streaming Music Apps - Executive Leadership Articles

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