In 2014 paying for music is easier than stealing

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.

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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.

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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 The album was rescinded due to a record label dispute, and now I have no access to it at all (legally).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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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5 days with an Xbox One

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A look at the new headset controls. I like it!

So I’ve had my Xbox One for about five days and so far it’s been more amazing than I could’ve imagined. I’m in love with voice controls. It’s so easy to swap between apps or games without even picking up a controller. If I get a message I simply say “Xbox go to messages” and in less than 2 seconds I’m seeing my messages. I say “Xbox Go to Dead Rising 3” and I’m back in the game. The quick resume feature is also blowing my mind. I don’t even have to save a game, I just turn the Xbox off and when I turn it back on at a later time I can jump right back into whatever game I was playing at the exact same spot without any loading screens or title screens. Pretty awesome!

I’m loving the entire Xbox One experience. I’ve been watching TV on it via DISH Network and it works seamlessly. The other day I snapped TV and watched Modern Marvels while playing Call of Duty Ghosts. It was great because I could listen to the program as I played and if something piqued my interest I could glance up at the top right corner and see what was going on. Also I’d watch while waiting to respawn or while matches were loading.

 

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History Channel and Call of Duty

I’m also loving the whole Xbox ecosystem more than ever. The Xbox Music app is pretty awesome. The menus and the way it displays artist pictures as you’re listening is very pleasant. I’ve enjoyed using it as I’ve done things around the house and most likely will remain a subscriber for $9.99/mo. Would it be nice if they threw in Xbox Music for free for Gold subscribers? Sure, but with music royalty fees I can’t see anyway they’d be able to do that. Spotify is a similar service and is also $9.99 a month for the full featured version.

I rented a movie using Xbox Video last night and it was quick and easy. It was actually quicker to rent a movie using the Xbox than it would’ve been via DISH On Demand or Amazon Instant Video. The quality was great and I got a few achievements in the process (app achievements are all worth 0 points so far, but will show up in your achievement list and feed as being accomplished).

Playing with friends is as easy as ever and I enjoy the party system / app. I played a bit of Call of Duty Extinction with my buddy last night and it was a great time.

I’m also loving the Xbox DVR and Upload Studio features. I’ve made quite a few videos and uploaded them to SkyDrive with ease. If you want to share these videos on Facebook or YouTube you simply logon to your SkyDrive account and you can download the .MP4 file to do with as you please. I’ll be sharing some of my videos soon, but right now I’m at Starbucks so I won’t upload them all here. I’ve been uploading them to Facebook for now but will put a few up on YouTube to share here.

I played about an hour of Dead Rising 3 last night and it’s an absolute blast. One of the most fun experiences I’ve had in awhile. Creating weapon combos and wreaking havoc on HUNDREDS of on screen zombies is a constant rush. It’s also fun to hop in a car or a steamroller and flatten zombies by the dozen.

One thing to note, the games require huge updates! Forza 5 required a 9GB update right off the bat and Dead Rising 3 required a 13GB update! The good news is that once the update is about a quarter of the way done you can start playing the game.

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I still have yet to play RYSE but will probably play some today if I can pull myself away from Dead Rising 3 and Call of Duty Ghosts. If you’d like to play a game, add or follow me on Xbox Live. My gamertag is Darth Gumballs.

I’ll post some gameplay videos when I have the chance, until then have a good day!