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Beacon Senior News

Streaming allows you to listen to music in a whole new way

Jun 06, 2019 03:02PM ● By Adam Cochran

Over the past 15 years, the process of listening to and acquiring music has completely changed. Individual songs are now available on demand through streaming music services, often for free.

The next time you talk to someone under 30, ask them about the music they listen to. He or she will most likely mention playlists that include The Beatles, Van Morrison, Eminem, Garth Brooks, Metallica and perhaps a Neil Diamond tune mixed in.

The iPod and similar digital devices have established an era of music lovers who think of music as individual songs. It’s likely that everyone still has a favorite artist or two, but playlists are more oriented to activities and mood than to genres.

Each streaming service has pros and cons. Almost all of them have a free ad-supported option, but a subscription (usually $10 per month or less) provides more versatility and limits ads. I’m going to focus on the free options because the paid options all offer the same features

Pandora is great for the traditional genre listener, but it’s the last service you want to use when you have a hankering for a specific song or artist. Pandora creates stations for you that features music similar to the songs and artists you search, but it doesn’t necessarily play the song or artist you’re searching for.

Spotify is the most popular service, as it allows users to build custom playlists of individual songs or choose from playlists designed by other Spotify users.

The free version provides full flexibility on a desktop computer. Users can build ad-supported playlists of individual songs or listen to the same song over and over. The disadvantage is that you can only listen to playlists on shuffle on a mobile device, and it will only allow you to skip songs so many times.

The pay version of Spotify allows users to play individual songs, skip and repeat, and even download their songs for offline listening.

YouTube is also a great place to access music. I enjoy using it to discover interesting and/or obscure cover versions of songs I like.

YouTube Music is a free app that allows you to listen to any song or playlist of songs that have been uploaded in video form.

If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you have access to many of the features available to the $10 per month Amazon Music subscriber. Users can build custom playlists, play and repeat single songs, and even download songs for offline listening.

However, Amazon Prime Music has a limited library of music. In order to gain access to the full library, you either need to subscribe to the $10 service or use a program like Spotify with a more robust library.

My favorite way to acquire digital music is to shop thrift stores and garage sales. A single song usually costs around one dollar to download and most pay services cost around $10 per month. But you can buy a used CD for a dollar or two.

Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon all allow you to copy music from your CDs and include those songs in with the library of music provided by the given service.

Whatever service or combination of services you use to access music, you’ll discover that you have more options than ever for playing music you enjoy, no matter how eclectic your tastes may be. ■