I am currently listening to “#ThrowbackThursday”, an old-school hip-hop playlist on Spotify that I can’t help but bump my head to. Definitely gives me that throwback-summer-leaking-fire-hydrant-baggy-pants-bright-color-Jazzy-Jeff type vibe.
So you might be wondering to yourself “wow Jairus, that is so cool I wish I had a summer playlist of some sort I could listen to for the rest of this summer, can you help me.” Have no fear! I am here to help you pick that perfect service to use to quench your summer music thirst.
Firstly, let’s decide what music services to pick from to listen to your music. Here’s a list that I got off the top of my dome (uh! That old school hip-hop is getting to me):
- Apple Music (what’s that?)
- Google Play Music
- Beats Music
- And so much more…
Now that I’ve come up with a list of music services (with a little help of some searching in the App Store), let’s whittle it down a bit. Rdio, Pandora, Slacker, and Rhapsody I personally don’t fancy much, only because they are more or less radio services. But hey, if you like them, then I won’t mess, no stress (there I go again).
Beats Music is essentially Apple music so scratch that. Tidal…let’s just not go there. The brand new polished baby service recently acquired by Jay-Z doesn’t seem to dish up what they offer too well (basically super-duper high quality music tracks that only super-audiophiles are able to tell are different from normal-people MP3 files). In addition to the pricey price tag, most people are not too fond of a service founded by millionaire-billionaire artists who want more money. But hey, not my words, I would just avoid the whole mess and look on to the remaining services.
Google Play Music recently introduced curated playlists that can match moods, seasons, times of the day etc., and I personally have not tried them. Despite this, every user can upload up to 50,000 (this is not a typo) songs for FREE to the service. So essentially you can access your whole music library from your phone and computer straight from the cloud, and pay premium for offline streaming, search-and-play songs etc. That is their biggest strong point, I would have to do some more research into how well their curated playlists are.
So, that leaves us with 8Tracks, Apple Music and Spotify, the last two undoubtedly the biggest music rivals in the music streaming industry (apart from Tidal being in that mix). But what is this 8Tracks service I speak of?
The People’s Person
8Tracks is essentially a listener-first music community that revolves solely around the idea of user-submitted playlists. As a user, you can make your own playlists (that’s right, upload music too) and listen to other people’s curated playlists. One of the strongest points of this service is the tagging-search option the services has. For example, you can choose “chill” as one tag, which would come up with a bunch of playlists that seem, well, chill. You can then click the next tag, such as “summer”, which narrows down the search to “chill+summer” playlists.
But the greatest thing about 8Tracks is that the playlists are user-created. You’re not listening to playlists auto-generated by a computer but by real people, who possibly have the same tastes in music as you. In addition, this service has been around 2008, around the same time of Spotify’s birth in 2006, and much older than Apple Music’s introduction earlier this year (which can be debated, whether its Beats Music or the Apple iTunes catalog of music that is being used in Apple Music). But neither Spotify nor Apple Music had the extensive amount of years 8Tracks has had for these playlists to be created! I would definitely take a look at this service for not just your summer jams, but whatever mood you be feelin’ and chillin’, smooth listenin’ (can’t stop this MC).
Spotify is clearly a household name, considering its entrance in the news recently with the whole Taylor Swift debacle, but more so for its fantastic service. Spotify is a music-service that aims to replace your music library with its own catalog (unless you’re a T-Swizzle mcdizzle fan, fo-shizzle). But we’re not going to dive into its music-streaming specifically, but its playlists. Spotify only recently introduced a huge design and feature update to its service, and added a “Browse” section. In this section, you can pick from “Genres & Moods”, Spotify-curated playlists, their “Discover” section and more.
The Browse section displays hundreds of playlists curated by Spotify for any type of listening mood you’re in, each cutely displayed with an Instagram-sized cover photo description.
As you can tell, I was put into an old-school hip-hop listening mood by the featured playlists on the Browse section, but the range of playlists available for this mood is very large. And this is true for almost any type of setting. I would definitely check out this free service! It is available on almost any type of mobile device and desktop.
On a sort of tangent, I would just like to input that any music service having a beautiful desktop application is a +1 in my book, so you go Spotify.
The Sleeping Giant
It was only a matter of time before Apple introduced their own music-streaming service. They’ve had of course their humongous iTunes library available for everyone who has wanted to buy singles or albums, but never a streaming service. Their recent acquisition of Beats Music by Dr. Dre definitely brought Apple knee-deep into the music-streaming industry.
After the acquisition, Apple transformed Beats Music and their own iTunes library into one, huge, giant of a music-saturated service known as Apple Music. Some would argue that Apple only did this because they had to in order to remain relevant, which might be partly true, but their playlists do speak otherwise.
I was never that into the whole Apple Music obsession, but hey, 3-month trial for free, why not try it? My favorite part of this service was that it was integrated with Siri, so I could ask Siri to play a song and it would play whatever I asked. But regardless, Apple’s recommended playlists definitely blew people out of the water, shown in their “For You” section.
As you can see, the music that I have listened to is fed into an algorithm which then spit out recommended albums Apple thought I would like to listen to. But it’s the playlists like “Christian Hip-Hop Workout Mix”, “Intro to Ellie Goulding”, and others that have been recommended to me such as “Intro to Aloe Blacc”, or “Guest List: Kendrick Lamar”, that made me take a double-take (really, I’ve looked twice at my For You section because it showed playlists I would actually take time to listen to).
So Apple Music is really, really, REALLY good at recommending playlists that they think you would like based on your listening history. I really like when artists are featured on the tracks of other musicians, and I really like Kendrick Lamar’s rapping style, so “Guest List: Kendrick Lamar”, an Apple-curated playlist which showcased popular tracks that featured Kendrick Lamar was perfect for me. I’ve listened to some of Aloe Blacc’s music, such as “Wake Me Up” and “The Man”, but I wasn’t exposed to the rest of his music. Thank God for the “Intro to Aloe Blacc” Apple-curated playlist, because that man’s music is fantastic. Playlists are Apple’s bread and butter, but how well it recommends playlists for moods, I’m not so sure of, I’ll definitely try researching that.
So there you have it. 8Tracks has great, specific user-created playlists, Spotify has a great selection of playlists for moods, and Apple Music kills it when it comes to playlist recommendations. Since there is no clear winner, everyone wins! (most think this sums up our current education system). Pick your choosing, and if you have some other music services you love, let me know in the comments below!
Fo-shizzle. R.I.P Grooveshark.