We audition several streaming music services and give you the low down on each one
A candidate for the world's oldest known instrument is the Divje Babe Flute carved from the femur of a cave bear over 40,000 years ago. Replicas proved it was capable of two and a half octaves, or three if overblowing. Over time, musical instruments would become more sophisticated, as would the songs, but one thing that hasn't changed is the inherent love of music that nearly all human beings seem to possess.
From records and 8-tracks to MP3s and Walkmen, technology changes the way in which we absorb our music. At this point, few people have memories of hauling suitcases full of cassette tapes (or even CDs) around with them on vacation as kids, and in a few more years perhaps even the ever-ubiquitous iPod will be just a memory of the past, removed from it's throne by a software that streams music to you directly in your head.
Until then, we have to make do with the technology that we have - and increasingly music fans are incorporating cloud-based, streaming services into their repetoire. From long-standing services like Rhapsody, to just-released softwares like Spotify, there are a slew of streaming music services to choose from. So, which one will work best for you? Read on for the highlights of twelve of the top options and be sure to let us know what your favorite is in the comments!
Rhapsody just went platinum. After a decade in the business, Rhapsody can finally celebrate amassing more than a million paying subscribers in the United States, which is still well short of Spotify's legion of 2.5 million paying subscribers worldwide, but it does qualify Rhapsody as the largest premium music subscription service in the U.S. To celebrate the occasion, Rhapsody boss Jon Irwin shaved his head, just as he promised he would.
The former peer-to-peer file stealing sharing service turned legit is changing hands once again. After filing for bankruptcy nearly a decade ago, Napster's assets were picked up by Roxio for $5.3 million in cash and stock in 2002. In 2008, Best Buy spent $121 million acquiring the music subscription service, which by then had more 700,000 subscribers. Best Buy was never able to do much with Napster, and now Rhapsody will take over operations.
A report from the Business Insider today claims that Google was recently very close to acquiring Spotify or Rhapsody, but the deal came apart thanks to some differing opinions inside the search giant. According to the tipster, the deal was as good as done, but there were three different groups in the company that were fighting over control of the service. We'd bet dollars to robots that one of those groups was the Android division. As a result, the deal was abandoned.
This is not an uncommon situation in Google, sources say. Big decisions are often made by committee. The belief is that Google will be able to respond more quickly to changing market conditions with more voices at the table. But it can also cause pandemonium, and abandoned deals.
Instead of purchasing a streaming service, and handling with all the licensing deals it would include, Google is reportedly working on a digital locker service. Parts of this system seem to have been demoed at Google I/O in May. Do you think passing on Spotify was a missed opportunity?
When talk turns to digital media players, Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s second-generation Zune (with its third-gen firmware) dominate the conversation. But if you’re a Rhapsody-to-Go subscriber ($15 per month), there’s only one media player you should consider: Haier’s Rhapsody Ibiza.
Today the New York Post revealed that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be looking to follow MySpace’s lead by offering a digital music store. Not through licensing their own content, mind you, but working through a third party that already has the nasty licensing business worked out.
MySpace’s music service currently works as a proprietary service built from the ground up using source licensing, with all their content hosted directly from MySpace. Whereas Facebook is reportedly looking to work with Rhapsody, iLike, Lala and IMEEM as content providers and licensers.
Supposedly, listening to the music itself will be free, and sold through Amazon. Listening to songs on Facebook would prompt on-screen advertising.
“Facebook is a serious challenger to MySpace,” said Phil Leigh, of Inside Digital Media, “and they would certainly want to do anything that record labels would allow them to do with advertising-supported music.”
So what say you, social networking site user? Would you use a Facebook powered music store? Let us know in the comments.
Here is a bit of news that might have music lovers rhapsodic. RealNetworks-owned online music service Rhapsody has MP3 music sans any Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection. This entails that users can do anything with the music they buy. If you thought that piracy fearing labels would never back such an initiative then you were wrong.
Major labels will continue to make their music available through Rhapsody. They perceive DRM protection to be some sort of a sales impediment as it deters many music lovers from buying such music online – scarecrow effect. Rhapsody’s online music store offers a single song download for $.99 and an entire album for $9.99. Rhapsody has certainly taken the attack to iTunes.
We liked almost everything about SanDisk’s Sansa e260 flash-memory digital media player when we reviewed it in November 2006, but we slapped it with a verdict of 5 because we activated its voice recorder every time we picked the damned thing up. The Sansa e280R fixes that problem and adds two more gigs of memory for good measure.