Back To Pandora One and iTunes Match

It’s 2015, or close to the end of it and I’ve decided to go back to my old setup of listening to music via Pandora One and iTunes Match. At the end of the day I’m about cost cutting and simplicity and this set up checks off all those points.

It’s funny, I had this set up back in 2011, and then after a year I decided to try something different. Years later and many experimentations with different set ups and trial periods I decided to go back to old reliable. Pandora has been around a long time. They have an easy premise, customized radio stations are pretty much set it and forget it; unless you want to thumbs up or thumbs down some songs for more customization to your liking. You really don’t have to think to much about it. Just let it play and go about the day.

One of the biggest knocks I had with Pandora and still do somewhat, is that there song selection is more limited than the other music services out there. But I’ve come to a realization. I don’t ever have a chance to listen to all 12,000+ songs in my music library so what does it matter if I have only 2 million songs to listen to vs. 15 million or whatever Spotify has nowadays. If I’m bopping my head to the Pandora station then that point is moot.

I still like what Pandora stands for. All about the Music Genome project. I like idea of how they pick songs based on my interests. It works. It’s affordable. When I get service with T-mobile that allows Pandora to have unlimited streaming w/o taxing my data plan it will really rock my world.

With Pandora One Expiring Thinking About Slacker Radio Plus Once Again

 So about a year ago I made the decision to choose iTunes Match and Pandora One for my music needs. By December 20th, my Pandora One subscription will expire and I’ve decided to use Slacker Radio Plus this time around. As much as I enjoyed Pandora One, I missed listening to radio stations offline a lot more than I thought I would. Also I’ve noticed that I in fact cannot tell the difference between 190 kbps (Pandora One sound quality) or 128 kbps (Slacker Radio). Since I cannot tell the difference between those sound qualities, Slacker’s music library and ability to cache their stations for offline listening seems more appealing to me than Pandora this time around. Also, unlike Pandora, when I’m listening to a genre of music, Slacker’s music stays consistent within that genre. That wasn’t always the case with Pandora. Sometimes with Pandora there would songs that would be completely out of left field of the genre that I would be listening to.

So Pandora One is out and Slacker Radio Plus is now in. And what about iTunes Match? Oh that’s still in. You can’t beat all your songs backed up for only $24.99 a year.

Pandora One and iTunes Match: My Music Services Of Choice

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.

UPDATE:

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.