As history has proven, newer technology replaces that which was there before it, only to be replaced itself. Just as the cassette took the place of the 8-track tape and the vinyl record was replaced by the CD, digital streaming and downloading have all but completely killed CDs. Since the debut of Napster in 1999, many contenders have come on the scene, competing for the attention of young music lovers. How do they stack up against one another?
PROS: The popular Internet radio is a favorite for discovering new music, especially because of its highly customizable interface that adapts to the artists and songs the user chooses to “like” and “dislike.” Listeners also can skip songs they don’t want to hear. There is no fee for listening to your stations, and you may create as many as you want.
Cons: Users cannot replay or rewind tracks that they want to hear again, much like real radio. This is not as big of a problem as the six skips per hour rule, which can make listening not as enjoyable over long periods of time. The advertisements can get annoying as well, but can be removed in “Pandora One,” which is a $3.99 upgrade.
Total number of users: More than 150 million.
PROS: Through the revolutionary iTunes Store, which helped transform the music industry, any number of tracks can be downloaded at small costs, usually around a dollar. In addition, the Apple program allows users to rip and burn CDs, download movies and TV shows cheaper than most places, and subscribe to free podcasts. The iTunes Genius is a nice feature that organizes your music into playlists based on tracks you selected, time of release or number of plays. This is all without a subscription fee or installment cost.
Cons: iTunes is more for the casual music listener, as a serious music lover will spend a lot of money downloading track after track. In addition, some artists, such as Garth Brooks, Tool, Black Sabbath, Def Leppard and Bob Seger are not available.
Total number of users: More than 575 million active accounts.
PROS: Complete unlimited streaming without ads for $9.99 on mobile devices makes Spotify one of the best services available. There is also a radio service similar to Pandora’s featured on the program, and an integration with Facebook makes it easy to share music with friends. It is also completely free on PC or desktop, without any removed features.
Cons: AC/DC, the Beatles, Metallica, Garth Brooks, Bob Seger and Radiohead all are absent from the service. It also is the most costly subscription of every major music service around, so users should be sure to use the service a lot to make it worth the money.
Total number of users: More than 20 million.
PROS: Grooveshark is quite similar to Spotify with completely unlimited streaming and radio but for a dollar less. The biggest difference is that the service has no missing artists. In addition, the browser version is free on mobile devices for an infinite time. This is probably the best for huge music fans that hate being unable to finish playlists on these services.
Cons: Grooveshark, although it has remained undefeated in court, is being sued for billions of dollars by major labels in the Supreme Court due to artist compensation issues. While the site has done well in its battle, it may be the end of the road for one of the longest lived music streaming sites. It already is off of the Play Store and the iTunes Store. Luckily for the site, it has been settled that its content dated before 1972 is allowed to be used, due to the “safe harbor” law in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Regarding the service itself, it is fairly good. The largest problem is that it is powered by user uploads, some of which can be malfunctioning. No harm will be done to the device being used, but the file will not play. There are many versions of each song on the site, so this is only a minor flaw.
Noah Towne is a sophomore at Clarence High School.