Bryan Kendall

Music Service Choices
08 Oct 2012

This weekend, I decided that I wanted to clean up my iTunes library, and possibly get my iPod Touch up and running again. While having an iPod is nice, I also have my Galaxy Nexus that I carry daily. Here’s where I run into a couple interesting questions:

  • What device do I want to use to listen to my music?
  • What service do I want to get my music?
  • All in all, how much do I want to be paying for this?

Let’s see what we can address…

What Device!?

Here’s the run-down of devices that I currently have:

  • Galaxy Nexus (Android Phone)
  • iPod Touch (iOS)
  • Nexus 7 (Android Tablet)
  • MacBook Pro (iTunes lives here)
  • Windows Desktop (both at work and home)

There are multiple paths to follow here, and disadvantages to consider. For example, if I wanted to listen to my music on my iPod, I would have to have it with me all those times. However, since my music library is on a Mac in iTunes, it’s not quite as simple to sync my library to my phone.

An entire second consideration (to be explored further below) is how connected the devices are. My Galaxy Nexus is the only device on this list that is completely portable, and in Austin, TX, I am in 4G coverage 99% of my time. On the other hand, where I would listen to music, I would mostly have access to wifi, so why would I need to require 4G? Well, it depends on the service…

What Service!?

I have two options, plus a third question, in mind for how I get my music.

iTunes allows you to purchase music and sync it all pretty quickly to your devices. Google Play allows you to do this on Android devices as well. One ‘bonus’ (and the ‘third question’ referenced earlier) of iTunes is that it has iTunes Match - for $25/year I get access to my library and high-quality versions of it to any iOS/Mac device (so I understand). But, is this better than something like a streaming music service? Which brings us to…

Spotify allows you, for $9.99/month, to stream music to mobile devices (and desktop clients w/o ads, but if the company you work for has it firewall’d off, you need to use mobile…). While I can play whatever I want, whenever I want, I am limited by the rate at which Spotify gets music into it’s system - iTunes will probably beat it every time.

Finally, we can look at Google Music. I can upload all my music to Google Music and stream it on Google Devices and on my computers, where I have internet. It doesn’t like DRM, so if I buy something out of iTunes, I can’t move it to Google Music, and the same holds true trying to move something from Google Music to iTunes. A terrible catch-22…

At What Cost!?

It doesn’t make sense for me to choose both iTunes Match and Spotify. $25 + $120 / year would be unnecessary. In iTunes Match (and Google Music), I still actually have to buy the music, Spotify I just stream. This leads me to the question: “how much money would I spend on new music every year?”

If I was to spend more than $95/year on new music, Spotify seems that it would be a little easier to deal with: $120/year to listen to any music at any time, and I could save money.

I am on the other side of that $95; I don’t buy up music that often (though starting to get back into it). With what music I do have, having high quality versions sync’d to my devices would be great - though I would have to limit my iPod to it’s 32GB capacity. As long as I can keep my iPod in sync, that would be a good way to go (and if I ever get a new iOS device, sync-ing is pretty quick).

However, I’m stuck with where to buy music then. I would want to stick with either Google Music or iTunes (with Match), since crossing between them seems impossible.

Since I have my Galaxy Nexus that can connect everywhere, it might be best to go with Google Music, but I might try out my iPod a little more and see how that works out.

If you have thoughts on this, let me know what you do! I would love to hear about it.

(Definitely wrote this when I was relatively tired, so hope it’s all well - I just want to try to get more written as I get thoughts developing in my mind! :) Thanks for reading!)