I don’t ‘get’ iTunes match

What I don’t get is the price. First I had to have bought the music (from Apple or someone else) and now I have to pay again ($24.95 per year) in order to make it all available over iCloud.  I think I will stick with my new favorite, Spotify.

I am sure I don’t fully understand the details, but it seems to me that the essential benefit that the new iTunes provide is that I can access my whole music collection (as far as it is ‘legal’) from any device attached to iCloud. Anything else?

Well, I think the very idea of ‘owning’ a music collection is antiquated. I mean it’s evidently inefficient that millions of people have a copy of the same bits that form “Let It Be” on each of their computers.

iCloud solves this, in one way. I have to buy the ‘Let it Be’ bits, persuade iCloud of that fact, and iCloud will let me access their copy of the same bits, from any device that I connect to iCloud. Ok.

Spotify (and other services like Rhapsody) solve this differently. They buy the bits and let me rent them for a tiny amount of money, $9.95 per month. Depending on how much new music I listen to this is more or less expensive than the combination of buying the song and paying iCloud to host it.

But the advantage is that the music I don’t listen to anymore doesn’t keep taking up room on my computer. And new music that becomes available is immediately available to be under the same subscription fee.

Here’s an article on ZDNet Asia, “iTunes Match: A solution for a problem that Apple helped create” , that is I agree with.

Update on Spotify II

I have become a total Spotify addict. I have almost totally stopped downloading MP3s and am gradually locating all my favorite music on Spotify. I posed a couple of semi-sceptical notes when I first started using Spotify and so I am due for an update, right?

So what has happened since? I find that I am using Spotify on my iPhone and on my computer, all the time. Occasionally I will dip back into my large iTunes collection to remind me of artists that I want to listen to. But I promptly go onto Spotify, and search for the artist and grab all their albums not just the one or two I had in iTunes.

It turns out that for me, not ‘owning’ the mp3s is not a big deal at all. I am almost always online when I am playing music, either on a computer or an iPhone. And when I am not actually online (on a plane for example) it is easy to make selected play lists available on my iPhone as long as I thought of it ahead of time.

Comparing it to Rhapsody, they are very similar services. They cost the same and seem to have similar sized catalogs. At least, most of the music I want I can find on either one. Still somehow I found that I am using Spotify much more often than I used Rhapsody. Rhapsody does not have a ‘real’ mac application so you have to have it running in a browser window which can be a nuisance.  Also the Spotify UI experience is a little more streamlined (although it misses some really important features that Rhapsody has.)

Comparing it to Pandora, the clear difference is that on Spotify you can play the specific album and/or track you want, over and over again if you want. On Pandora you can just ask for music that ‘sounds like’ another track. And while it does a decent job, you often want to listen specifically to Madeleine Peyroux and no one else.

Comparing it to iTunes, the clear difference is that I don’t own any music. And if tomorrow Spotify goes out of business or I decide to stop subscribing, my whole ‘collection’ disappears. What I own is the list of music that I like, and presumably I would be able to move the list over to the next service. Also I am constantly discovering new music and so my iTunes collection has lots of stuff that I don’t listen to anymore. On the other hand, lots of stuff, like NPR interviews, Technical podcasts, lecture series and other material is only available as mp3 and so I will keep using iTunes for that, I am sure.

What about the new integration with Facebook? Not sure yet. What music I listen to is no secret. But it is a little weird that people in my network can watch my listening habits, play by play as it were, and I listen to a lot of music. As soon as I wake up the music goes on.

Anyway, all in all, Spotify is great and is now my primary music service.

Rhapsody vs. iTunes

I think I might be entering a new phase in my music listening. I listen to a ton of music, on my iPhone, on my computer, in my car, all the time. And up to now it’s always been downloaded (purchased) music that I organize manually within iTunes.  From time to time I’ve had subscriptions to eMusic and similar services.

As a result I have a huge number of tracks on my computer and on my iPhone. And as my music taste develops, and I discover new artists and composers, lots of those tracks are listened to rarely.

The alternative services like Rhapsody, which has been around for a while. But I didn’t like the idea of paying $10 per month to ‘rent’ music to listen to. Without owning it I would ‘lose’ the music if I ever cancelled the subscription. I would be tied to this $10 subscription forever.

Lately I’ve been trying the various streaming products like Rhapsody, Rdio, Mog, and various others. From those that I’ve tried I still like Rhapsody the best. Rhapsody is the only one that organizes music into genres so that I can browse through for example, 20th Century Classical. The other ones seem to be focused more on current popular music, which I don’t really listen to.

And I feel a sea-change coming in my own listening. I am really liking Rhapsody. I am playing more variety. Yes, even among my 10,000 or so tracks on my disk I was finding myself repeating the stuff I liked best. With Rhapsody I can go spelunking through a category I don’t know that well (e.g. Jazz Blues) and discover new music. I can have a playlist playing all afternoon of music that I like that I never heard before.

And who cares about ‘owning’ a track anyway?