One thing I love about digital music is how easy it is to discover new artists and songs. Until recently, I only used Pandora to listen to music online. I like the ability on Pandora to customize radio stations, and I didn’t necessarily feel like I was missing anything from my music-listening experience. However, after exploring other options for streaming online music, I have to say that my ears have been opened. Here is a comparison of twodigital music streaming services: Spotify and Rhapsody.
Cost and services
Spotify offers three different levels of services. The free version (yes, free) allows you to stream an unlimited amount of music to your computer– for 6 months. You can listen to any song or album you want (not just similar music, like what Pandora chooses for you), with occasional ads. I have to say, this is awesome. Spotify also has a radio that is very similar to Pandora, allowing you to create stations based on genre or artist.
After 6 months with a free account, you’re restricted to 10 hours of streaming per month, or you can choose to upgrade to an “Unlimited” account for $4.99/ month, which lets you continue your unlimited streaming, minus the ads. A “Premium” account gives you–in addition to what the “Unlimited” offers– mobile app access so you can listen on your phone, and offline access so you can listen to playlists and songs you download even when you’re without an internet connection (i.e. rocking out on an airplane).
The desktop application can be downloaded to a Mac or PC. A Premium subscription allows you to play music on your home audio system and the mobile app is compatible with iOS and Android.
I found the design on the desktop UI to be very clean, simple, and easy to use. It looks remarkably like iTunes (and it even syncs with your iTunes, so you can listen to your music library via the Spotify application). The search bar makes it easy to find tracks to listen to and make playlists.
Spotify has a large social component as well, with features that make it easy to share your music with friends on Twitter or Facebook, or on your blog or website. You can even sign up for Spotify using your Facebook account– super easy.
In my experience, I have been very impressed with the selection of songs. Spotify says they offer millions of songs, and I was not disappointed. As a European-based company, they even have a large selection of obscure, European releases of songs.
Cost & Services
Rhapsody is a service very similar to Spotify, allowing you to stream specific songs of your choice or listen to a customizable radio station. For $9.99/month, you get unlimited streaming without ads, and lets you download music to one device for offline listening. For $14.99, you can get a subscription that allows you to download music to 3 devices.
Rhapsody is compatible with Mac and PC and a number of home audio systems. It can be played on iOS and Android phones, as well as iPod touch and other MP3 players, such as the Phillips GoGear.
The desktop version, like Spotify, is easy to use. You can make playlists and connect with other users.
Rhapsody also allows you to share your music on Facebook, but it is not quite as integrated as it is with Spotify’s interface.
Rhapsody doesn’t have quite the music selection that Spotify does, though they claim to offer over 16 million songs. And that’s plenty for me. Rhapsody is only available in the U.S. so there aren’t as many European tracks.
Overall, I have slightly preferred my experience with Spotify (especially given the free service), though they are both great programs. How do you enjoy your digital music? Let us know in the comments.