Monday, August 23, 2004

Streaming Music

I've been into online streaming music for quite a while now. I began using Shoutcast years ago and have been listening to online streams at work all the time. As I've mentioned before, there are some really good streams out there.

So here's the next generation of streaming: Rhapsody. Now, this service has been around since 2001. I probably heard of it in 2002, but didn't think much of it. Afterall, who would want to pay $10 a month and not even get to "own" the music? Well, after some time, I've come around. I think this is actually a better music solution than buying individual song files on iTunes, Napster, or other similar programs. Don't believe me? Here's another opinion. Of course, I didn't trust this person, I listened to some friends and co-workers who subscribe and are very pleased. I've been loving this so far, but I'll post in a month or so for a recap of my experiences.

Some things to know about this service:
  • It's perfect for anyone who likes to explore different music or just check our something which a friend told you about. This is exactly the type of person I am. I tend not to buy CDs, but music is a big topic of conversation with a friend of mine, so I always want to check out what he's talking about. Generally, it's hard to do this if you have to buy the album or the individual song. Yes, I make decent money, but I'd quickly be in the poor house if I went out and bought everything I hear or read about. So, for about $8.50 a month, I can check out all the music I want and save them to my library if I like them.
  • Pick your music or listen to radio stations. I love the Shoutcast radio streams, but sometimes I just like to pick out a specific song or artist and groove. I haven't listened to these Rhapsody radio stations, but I think they only have the basic types of stations. In these cases, I think Shoutcast (or even Yahoo's Launch) would be better, but we'll see if they expand their radio stations. As a side note, Launch's music stations have a breakdown by mood as well as genre so that's kind of cool to just pick your mood and go with it.
  • Your music libraries can be accessed from any PC (not Mac yet). The potential here is pretty cool if you like to create mix tapes (talk about old school) for friends. This was something I did in high school (albiet not generally Western music). Now, you can create your playlist, and either email it to a friend, or, if you're at their place, just login to Rhapsody and your entire library is immediately available. This could be pretty cool for party planning too since you can add to your party playlist when you're at work and have it ready to go the day of your party by simply logging in and hitting play. Cool stuff.
  • You should have access to broadband internet most of the time. Since the music streams, you can't listen to it offline or in the car. When offline, downloaded songs are more useful since you can listen whenever, wherever. But in my life, I'm close to an internet connection most of the time so it's not a big deal. In the car, I generally like to listen to NPR, not music. Also, my work commute is only 10 minutes, so it's not like I need hours of musical pleasure while in the car (except for those occassional drives down to LA)

Anyways, give this service a try. They've got a free service through the end of the month (apparently in honor of the Olympics...which is sort of odd to say the least) so you can check it out for yourself and see if it's something you're willing to pay for.

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