Much like our favorite artists, songs, and genres, the ways we listen to music change over the years. Records, cassettes, and CDs have gone with the times. I’m going to be the one to break the news: your MP3 player is pretty obsolete too. When Apple first created the iPod, the world went wild. Buying particular songs instead of whole albums and keeping them in a virtual library was a revolutionary concept. No one foresaw the problems that would come with it.
I went through a few iPods, and then stopped using them when I began keeping music on my phone. Here’s the number one problem with iTunes: what the heck are we supposed to do with our 25,000 songs? Additionally, I share a “library” with my family, to avoid the issue of paying for duplicate downloads. This is great until I also have my computer flooded with files I don’t need or want. Have you ever looked at the bottom of your iTunes account and seen the label that counts the amount of time it would take you to listen to your whole library? It would take me something like 15 days straight to listen to all of my family’s jams. No one has that much time, or space on their device, to keep up with that many tunes.
In order to avoid the problem of “too many songs” I created a playlist with only the songs I wanted. It solved my needs at the time, but unfortunately, it would take up almost the whole day to mark what I did and didn’t want.
At some point, somewhere, a music junkie with an insane amount of songs had a brilliant idea. Why not create a program that lets you have what you want for a recurring fee? Similar to Netflix, but for music. All you have to do is pay the app a small fee each month, and you can “own” any song that you want. By own, I mean listen to it whenever you want, for free.
This is the new revolutionary concept. Now, I usually make a monthly-based playlist of a few songs I’m into at the time. Then, when I move on, I can easily delete the songs. It doesn’t take up a bunch of space on my phone. And better yet, it’s a great deal! I currently pay $10 a month for my account, for virtually limitless music. The same price on iTunes would only get me about 8 songs! These services also allow you to access other people’s playlists and offer further discounts for students.
If you’re still buying music on iTunes you’re getting robbed. Now that you know music apps are the way to go, I’ll tell you about the best ones to try. We all love music, so get the best bang for your buck. Thank me later.
A Quick Note about Going Offline
So you’re no longer a newbie to music streaming. But there is one more thing to consider. Streaming requires Internet data. Data is expensive. Wi-Fi makes streaming music easy, but what if you don’t have Wi-Fi?
A long road trip is the most frustrating case I can imagine. Or you might be pulling up your playlist at the gym or on a run. Maybe your Internet just went on the fritz. Don’t get stuck in a situation like this with no music to cope! Take your music offline.
The good news is a lot of the popular apps are smart enough to capitalize on this concept, and allow you to go offline. And they’re legal, so no worries about paying later.
Get the free membership, instead of immediate buying. Some apps give you a month or 2 before making any commitment. Always use the free trial, since you may not end up liking the app. Even if you love it, you got something for free!
Look for promotions before creating an account, such as a student discount.
There are usually limits to how many songs you can have. However, it’s usually a number in the thousands and you by no means will have this many favorite songs at a given time. Still, be aware of how many songs you can have and how many devices you can register to one account.
The key to keeping up with music streaming is letting your music go when it’s time. Keep the classics, and the favorites on one playlist, and make a separate playlists for popular songs at the moment. This way, you can always have your most favorite songs.
Don’t be afraid to delete… you can always get a song back later. You can’t delete songs on iTunes without repaying for them, but music streamers don’t have that issue. It’s easier to delete regularly then to end up hitting the limit and having to do a mass cleaning of your device.
Use and abuse the playlists of others. Going to the beach? Enjoying a night out? Getting married? Don’t waste your time creating a “beach playlist” or “wedding jams” that you won’t get much use out of. Do a quick search. I guarantee someone else has already created a similar playlist for what you’re looking for. Put it on shuffle for the time being.
Only feeling one song? Playlists with less than 10 songs will usually take on a “Pandora” like note. This means that they will play your few songs; add in similar ones by the same artist or in the same genre. Music apps are great for listening to what you want, when you want. But it’s okay to create a very small playlist and let the computer spin the tracks for a little while too.
Spotify is my personal favorite, and yes, the app I was bragging about earlier. It’s the leading mogul out there, so most of your friends probably have playlists you can access too. Spotify lets you save songs to playlists for free, but only members enjoy certain extra features.
I quickly became a Spotify member, and trust me it’s worth it. With the premium membership, you can add up to 3,333 songs to an offline list on 3 different devices.
Spotify also offers a hefty student discount. The premium membership usually costs $9.99 a month; for an account with a student email address it’s $3.99. This $6 a month adds up very nicely for some beer money or a dinner out.
Once you become a premium user, you will be able to slide the “Available Offline” toggle found at the top of each playlist. You can keep your playlists on or offline, and make them private or public. Go to your apps settings and turn on Offline mode; this will ensure that the songs will still play when your device loses Internet connection.
Spotify is available on Android, iOS, OS X, and Windows devices.
Groove Music is popular with Microsoft users. The awesome thing about this app that Spotify that keeps it rivaling Spotify is that you can download all of your already purchased music instead of starting from scratch! This holds up even if the music was purchased on a different device. Awesome call Groove Music… your move Spotify.
To take advantage of this feature, go to the apps settings and turn on “automatically download songs.” This also ensures that all songs you download will be available offline as well. Of course, you can only take advantage of this with a Groove Music pass member subscription.
No worries. The subscription is only $9.99 a month. Find it on Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Whenever there’s a new trend, Google usually takes advantage of it to some extent (read: Google+ social network, Gmail, Google docs, etc.). Music is no exception. If you’re a fan of the popular search engine and it’s many spin offs, check out Google Play!
With this app you can download music from the apps web player and has a “Music Manager” feature that makes downloading super easy. To get a purchased song (or even playlist) from the Google Play Music app, simply tap the download icon to be found on an album or playlist’s designated page. A Google Play All Access Subscriber has it even easier. Tap the button with three dots that can be found beside a song for easy downloading.
Use it on your Android or iOS device. It does include a free trial; after that a premium subscription is $9.99 a month.
Okay, I spent the first large part of this article ragging on Apple. Luckily, they know that iTunes is pretty obsolete too. They are weaning their loyal users off iTunes and still keeping the money local with their “keep up” attempt: Apple Music.
I’m not going to be cruel. Apple Music is pretty good. Though their version is relatively new, it’s still competitive with the likes of Spotify and Groove Music.
If you were a huge iTunes user before, you might actually want to consider this version above others. Apple Music lets you access your previous downloads, so you’re iTunes downloads won’t be lost in the giant virtual abyss. If you become a member, you can keep adding songs to an offline collection.
Similar to other apps, there’s a button alongside each song, playlist, or album. Tap it and select download. Alternatively, hitting the plus button will add the song to “My Music.”
Obviously you can get Apple Music on your iOS and OS X devices, but Apple isn’t biased. Install it on your Android too. It’s also $9.99 a month.
The unique Slacker Radio gives you the ability to download your favorite radio stations to your phone for offline usage. Now you can take the radio with you on your run or to your Wi-Fi-less dentist office!
Become a Slacker Plus or Premium member to select stations, playlists, and songs you like. Push the refresh button while connected to Wi-Fi and you will be able to access your content offline also. If you’re an avid Pandora fan, you’ll soon shake it for Slacker. Slacker matches Pandora by allowing you to take your radio service offline.
Even better: Slacker is the cheapest and most versatile app on this list. Install it on your Android, BlackBerry, iOS, or Windows device for just $3.99 a month.
This app is aimed at the Indian population. Its capabilities are pretty convincing. With the Gaana Plus subscription, download an unlimited number of songs in high quality. Yes, I said unlimited! This is by far the best feature of the app, and a calling for music junkies with a huge collection.
Gaana doesn’t stop there. Your downloads can be synced to 5 devices… that’s a whole family! If you’re swinging between different devices all the time bring your music with you with Gaana.
Gaana is pretty unbelievably also on the cheap side at just $3.99 a month. It’s easy to make downloads by just pressing the download button next to the file. The only catch is that it’s only offered for Android and iOS users.
So if you’re a student choose Spotify. Windows users delight in Groove Music. Google fanatics try Google Play. Those wary that iTunes is ending: behold Apple Music! Slacker Radio is for the Pandora fan who has offline needs. And finally, for the music junkie with the huge collection… none other than Gaana. Whatever your music needs, there’s an app out there for you.
The major take away from this article is this: take your music offline. You should also be aware that membership is important (once you’ve snagged the free trial of course!) Premium memberships are offered for only $9.99 a month or less on these great apps. If you do the math, this is the cost of just 1 album or about 8 songs on iTunes. Streaming music saves big time— and being able to take it offline is super convenient!