Spotify vs. Rdio vs. Beats Music

I signed up for Spotify on day one — streaming music is a godsend for me. Having had the chance to peruse three of the services, I thought I would list some of the highs and lows of each. 

Spotify

high points:

  • huge catalog (though this is increasingly commoditized)
  • most widespread adoption (for sharing links)
  • fastest playback (in my experience)
  • pretty simple interface
  • sync your own music via wifi — this experience is vastly underrated. As a lot of albums aren’t cleared for streaming yet, I like to take the ones I have with me. 
  • Added a new releases section, even if it leaves something to be desired. 

low points

  • somewhat ugly
  • great content (celebrity playlists, etc) is buried in their email newsletters
  • no family plan
  • "friends" seem to be limited to Facebook integration. I’m not on Facebook. 
  • laughable suggestion algorithm (If you like Patty Griffin, you’ll love Burl Ives). 

Rdio

high points

  • by far, the best mobile UI
  • love the “collection” feature — lets me build my own library of music, a la iTunes, for when I want something comfortable
  • very easy to follow people, good user base of tastemakers
  • family plan

low points

  • low adoption (sort of a big deal to me, I share music all the time). 
  • for a while, had the smallest library. This has changed some.
  • web UI is okay. 

Beats Music

high points

  • best suggestions, by a long shot. Consistently finding good playlists and stuff I want to listen to. 
  • you can like and dislike music, ostensibly to hone in on your suggestions
  • have “my library” which is similar to Rdio’s “collection”. 
  • seem to have some music licenses that other services don’t have. 
  • family plan
  • bundled with At&t. One less bill is a good thing, even if the price is the same.

low points

  • pretty rough UI. Very difficult to get back to artist page or album page without searching again. 
  • can’t save an album as a playlist without manually naming it. Seems basic. 
  • web UI is worthless, though they just launched two weeks ago. I’m on a computer all day — most of my playlist making and saving happens on the computer. At a base level, remember that I am logged in. 
  • playback has been spotty — at times, I get no reception even on wifi. 

Again, just my notes. I like streaming music too much to really dislike any of these. I think Spotify is my mainstay for now, though I’d like to see Beats evolve a bit. It will also be a deal-killer if I can’t transport playlists when switching services. Currently, only Spotify lets you import playlists. 

Records I Listened to Most in 2013

As always, not necessarily new (in fact, fewer and fewer new records each year), but the ones I listened to most in the past year. Click titles for Spotify links. In no order:

Junip - Junip

Love the slight krautrock touches on this record, and Jose Gonzalez’ voice. A rare record that can serve as background music or focused listening. Enjoyed it more after watching the KEXP live session

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Just outstanding from front to back — every note is perfectly recorded and perfectly placed. I found this very difficult to just cherry pick songs — I usually listened to the album straight through, front to back. “Instant Crush” is probably my favorite, just for the chorus melody and Julian Casablancas’ lazy vocoded croon. 

Jason Isbell - Southeastern

Powerful writing. Isbell takes the leap that I always wanted him to take, though every record before this came up slightly short for me. I think it is a good sign when Spotify shows the play counts — the first track is the highest and it descends from there. 

Ashley Monroe - Like A Rose

Pure country gold. 

Haim - Days Are Gone

Been a fan for a while as they have unleashed a torrent of singles, which are collected nicely with some new tracks on this record. More hooks than a tackle box on this one, which made it very repeatable. 

Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks

Josh’s divorce record somehow remains hopeful, optimistic, magical, and brings his literary sense that makes it all so rich. 

Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park

Got intrigued by “Merry Go Round”, hooked by “Follow Your Arrow”, and sold by “Keep It To Yourself”. 

Dawes - Stories Don’t End

More nuanced than their earlier records. It took a lot longer for this to grab me, but I listened to it a lot more in terms of total minutes. Love the Blake Mills cover. 

Katy Perry - “Wide Awake”

I went through periods where I listened to this on repeat for a week or so. Near-perfect melodies and production. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan breaks string, doesn’t care 

(Source: youtube.com)

Recently Read: Philipp Meyer, The Son
Tore through this big Texas epic in just a few days. It’s inspiring, heartbreaking, and everything in between — constantly shifting narrators leave cliffhangers from chapter to chapter, as the perspectives shift across centuries before finally linking the entire story together. Highly recommended. 

Recently Read: Philipp Meyer, The Son

Tore through this big Texas epic in just a few days. It’s inspiring, heartbreaking, and everything in between — constantly shifting narrators leave cliffhangers from chapter to chapter, as the perspectives shift across centuries before finally linking the entire story together. Highly recommended. 

Amazing shots of Dallas…from a drone. 

jspong:

Twenty years ago today.

A Man. 

jspong:

Twenty years ago today.

A Man. 

dailybunch:

The Corporate States of America: A Map That Shows Each State’s Most Famous Brand

dailybunch:

The Corporate States of America: A Map That Shows Each State’s Most Famous Brand

bijan:

Tell Me Why (Neil Young Cover)Radiohead

Love how my Tumblr dashboard lights up with awesome covers early Friday morning. Thanks for the great music as always. (andy, fred, david, luke)

Thom Yorke’s Voice

Spotify and royalties

Here’s a thought: everyone knows that Spotify/Pandora/whoever pays a fraction of a penny to an artist each time a song is played. There is much debate over how small that fraction is, but it is less than a penny — I think we can all agree on that. 

I understand the Spotify argument that they can’t pay more without scaling paid users. Can’t pay out money that isn’t coming in, at least not for very long. 

But what if the payout was based on share of listens? Say I pay my $9.99/mo, and 50% (lowballing, by Spotify’s claims) goes to rightsholders, artists, labels, etc. That puts around $4.99 available to be paid out. If I spend half of my time on Spotify listening to Tom Petty (likely), then why shouldn’t he receive $2.49 for the month?

The question really lies in whether Spotify can build a profitable business model on 30% of their revenue a month. In the meantime, they desperately need adoption, and backlash from artists doesn’t help. But what if artists could make more money from their super-listeners? Or even the person who listens to 10 songs a month, but half of those listens are a single artist?

Open to criticism on this, but it seems to accomplish a few things:

1. Takes the argument away from a dubious per-song rate into a rev-share argument

2. Incentivizes artists to get people listening regularly

3. Incentivizes artists to make music worth listening to over and over again 

How am I wrong here?

via  mattlehrer

via  mattlehrer

(via texturism)

txdrivebyshooting:

Dallas, Texas - Shepard Fairey’s Obey Mural - Singleton & Beckley

Love this area. 

txdrivebyshooting:

Dallas, Texas - Shepard Fairey’s Obey Mural - Singleton & Beckley

Love this area. 

(via goodollonestar)

(via The Strange Beauty of Salt Mines - In Focus - The Atlantic)

(via The Strange Beauty of Salt Mines - In Focus - The Atlantic)

Bruce Robison - "Leavin'"

My admiration of Bruce Robison is well documented. He has a very natural way of songwriting — one that makes every line seem like an adage from an experienced, trusted elder. His latest record, a duets record (at last) with wife Kelly Willis, is his most natural record yet. Loose and fun, the record listens like a hazy night at the Broken Spoke. 

vintagenatgeographic:

Cluster of observatories atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano
National Geographic | June 1983

vintagenatgeographic:

Cluster of observatories atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano

National Geographic | June 1983

(via thisistheverge)

Phosphorescent - Song For Zula

Love the feel of this. And auto-post because of the Johnny Cash quote that bookends the whole thing. 

(via thrueyesofarunner)