For the past few months I have been fiddling with different music services with free trials to see which one I was going to stick to for the rest of the year. MOG was my all-around favorite premium music service. They had the best quality sound files (326 kbps), their song selection came close to Spotify’s and they even had a radio function by artist that was similar to Pandora’s (Spotify just recently created their own radio service as well). Despite all this, I unfortunately cannot afford the $9.99/monthly service fee that’s needed to use this service. Because of this I needed to find some other alternatives.
Thankfully, iTunes Match finally launched in the US in middle to late November and I immediately jumped on it after fixing up my iTunes library (how can you argue with $25/year). With iTunes Match, I’m able to access my collection of 10,000+ songs which was something I couldn’t previously do with my 32GB iPhone 4. Granted this doesn’t give me access to millions of songs but at least I can now play anything that’s in my collection depending on my mood. Another bonus of this service that I found out accidentally is that it’s a good backup option for all your music. Sometime after I set up iTunes Match and let it match/upload my collection (took about 16 hours or so), both my external hard drives were wiped clean. I was trying to switch them out and in my haste erased both of them. At first I was a little freaked out but when I relaunched iTunes and saw all the little download iCloud icons next to all the faded song titles I breathed a sigh of relief and diligently restored my collection. So music back up for just $25/year is another thing to think about when assessing the value of this service.
Of course, I don’t always know what I want to play. I just have an idea of what genre I want to play. This is where internet radio services like Pandora and Slacker come in. One advantage that Slacker has over Pandora is the ability to cache radio stations for offline listening. However, Pandora One’s music quality is higher than Slacker’s (192kbps vs. 128kbps I believe), and, call me shallow, but I find Pandora’s site design more aesthetically pleasing than Slacker’s.
Plus, I like the idea of the Music Genome Project and felt inclined to give it my support. Granted, I would’ve had a greater selection of music to choose from with Slacker and the offline listening will be missed, but it was prone to glitches from time to time and I do prefer quality of sound to quantity of lesser quality audio.
So for the next 12 months I’ll be using iTunes Match and Pandora One for my music indulgences. We shall see how my options will change a year from now.
Not long after I made this post I got an offer for a free 30 day trial for Spotify LOL. Oh, well don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Will give Spotify a 30-day spin and then continue on with my choice of Pandora One and iTunes Match.