In the early 2000’s up until the advent of iTunes store one of the most common reasons given for pirating music was that it was too easy not to. In recent years, however, going legitimate and supporting artists has become easier than ever. I’d even argue that that act of buying individual albums (even via iTunes or Amazon) will soon become as obsolete as renting movies at Blockbuster.
The reason for all this is the rise of streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes Radio, Beats Music, Pandora, Xbox Music and so on. Spotify has completely eliminated my desire to download albums, either by way of the Pirate Bay or legitimate services such as iTunes. For $10 a month I can stream or even download nearly any album I desire to any of my various devices. At any given time I have at least 20-30 albums downloaded to my phone via Spotify in addition to various playlists I’ve created, such as my gym playlist.
It’s so simple to build a collection of albums, and the fact that you can listen offline is even better. Simply save an album as a playlist and tell your device to download it and you’re done. It’s nice to have the option to save music to your device so that you can listen in the car, gym or on a flight and not use any data or require a WiFi connection.
I should note, you can use Spotify for free and still save albums to playlists, however you must listen to albums on shuffle and Spotify will insert related music into your playlists as well as commercials. You also cannot download music without subscribing to Spotify’s premium service.
On my Mac, however, I stream all of my music. I used to have countless hundreds of gigabytes of storage tied up storing music, however Spotify has allowed me to free up almost all of that space. There is one minor disadvantage to this form of ‘renting’ music as I like to look at it. Although you have a seemingly unlimited supply of new and old music at your disposal, nothing is permanent. For example, I really enjoyed Morrissey’s 2014 album World Peace Is None of Your Business, yet it recently disappeared from Spotify. The album was rescinded due to a record label dispute, and now I have no access to it at all (legally). Had I purchased it via iTunes I would presumably still own and have access to it.
Beyond Spotify (which, if you can’t tell is my favorite music service) I also subscribe to SiriusXM and Xbox Music. I use Sirius mostly in my car, but I also enjoy the ability to stream it on my computer, phone or iPad on occasion. I enjoy using Sirius when I feel like giving up control of what I’m about to hear. It’s nice to discover new music on Alt Nation and pop open Spotify and add the album to my collection.
I subscribe to Xbox Music because it’s an easy way to stream music from my TV and I love the interface. Xbox Music gives you the option to play music videos in place of songs when available so it’s nice to have on the TV as background noise while having drinks or conversation. Xbox Music doesn’t have quite the selection that Spotify has, but the enjoyable interface and music videos make the $10 a month seem justified.
Thanks to streaming services I’ve saved hundreds of dollars a year while still supporting artists. I do, however, still enjoy purchasing albums on vinyl that I really enjoy. I pre-ordered Weezer’s upcoming album, Everything Will Be Alright in the End on vinyl via their Pledge Music page and am quite excited for it to arrive.