Before I get started, I’d like to point out the shiny new layout that I located! Maybe one day I will do a custom one, but until then…. this will work :-)
That said, as mentioned in my last post, I’ve been testing Spotify and Google Music recently. I’ve been looking for an ideal solution to my music problems, which are threefold:
1. When I’m busy, I want to play a random station Pandora-style.
2. When I’m not busy, I want to listen to what I want to hear, even if it’s the same song 30 times in a row.
3. I don’t really have spare inputs to hook a PC up to the Receiver, so I’d really like it to work on my X-box (this is a big issue).
Obviously, #3 is kind of the dealbreaker. I don’t like Last.fm that much, so I basically can’t get #3 out of any player. Hopefully, at some point in the future someone else will expand to the Xbox… but I don’t really think that’s likely, even though Pandora wants to expand to the platform. I suspect Last.fm will try to prevent it at all costs, and the vibe that Microsoft gives is that it doesn’t want the Xbox Live experience to be cluttered.
As for why I dislike Last.fm? I find that it doesn’t really gauge my musical tastes nearly as well as Pandora does. In fact, there’s not one single thing that I care about that Last.fm does better than any of it’s competing services. I did try it out again on the Xbox to see if I could force myself to like it, but it’s just frustrating.
So far, I am quite fond of Google Music. I really like being able to listen to any of my songs from my home PC wherever I have a PC/Android. And their Instant Mixes (basically, playlists that are automatically created of similar songs in your library to the one you select) are pretty neat too. And I like that it doesn’t require me to install anything on my PC, so it’s easily accessible for work PCs. But at present, Google Music doesn’t offer me anything outside of my own music, and that’s somewhat annoying. I would honestly like some of the functionality of Pandora so I could explore new music as well. Or perhaps the ability to purchase music from within the service like iTunes, so when I hear a new song on the way to work, I can add it to my playlist before I forget what it was called.
Spotify is reasonably nice as well, although the features that interest me the most are all part of the premium subscription, and I’m not certain whether they’re worth enough for me to justify yet another monthly expense. One of it’s features that Google Music lacks is the ability to share playlists with others, which is an interesting concept to me. But like Google Music, Spotify doesn’t have a good way for me to say, “I like X song, please play other songs that are like it!” Spotify has replaced my random hunting around YouTube to find a song that I want to hear that’s not on my playlist. But some of my music tastes are not especially “common” and I have a hard time finding some of my less-mainsteam favorite songs on there (Like Vast… :-(). The biggest downside is that there’s an installer involved, and since it connects to the internet, work PCs might block either the application or it’s traffic.
Between all of the various music providers, there is one that fulfills every need I have (save actually hearing the song that I want, when I want to hear it on my Xbox). But it’s annoying having to have accounts for Pandora, Google Music, Spotify and Last.fm just to fulfill my basic desires from a music program. Admissibly, I don’t have hugely extensive experience with any of these services, so it’s possible that I overlooked something, but overall I think my observations are pretty good.