Saturday, June 18, 2011

This is the Year of Music

Last month I wrote a bit about cloud music. Since then Apple got in the game with iTunes in the iCloud. I'm not a fan of it because you have to manage what songs are downloaded to your devices before you can listen to them. Of course having to download a song before you can listen to it is not surprising from a company that sells hardware priced by storage capacity. If you didn't have to download to use your media, why would you spend an extra $100 on the 32gb iWhatever instead of the 16gb version? Still you gotta give Apple props on the price point. I am optimistic that competition around price and features between Apple, Google, and Amazon will be very beneficial for consumers.

Anyways while the your music-in-the-cloud market is obviously very hot market being contested by three of the biggest technology companies in the world, there is a lot more interesting innovation around music going in in technology. This blog post is about two of my favorite music startup/services: Rdio and There's tons of tech press on each of these companies, so I won't go into that. I'm just going to talk about why I like them.

Rdio launched in late 2010, and I've been a paying customer since January 2011. It's conceptually similar to subscriptions services like fake Napster and Rhapsody. What I like about it is how great it is to use on mobile devices. I have it on my Nexus S, on my Nexus One that I listen to when I run/work-out, and on the iPod Touch that I have plugged in to my car. Now you might be thinking, now how can I use this on a iPod in my car with no internet connection? Well you can mark songs/albums/playlists as songs to sync to your devices and be usable with no connection. So I can use the Rdio Mac app, mark some songs, and then just connect my iPod or Nexus One to a wifi network, and the songs get synced. Then I can listen to them anytime. I regularly read reviews of new music on Metacritic, listen to some of the music I find there on Rdio, and then sync it to my devices. Then I can listen to it while running or driving to work.

Speaking of discovering new music, that is the sweet spot of Turntable. It's pretty new, I only heard about it earlier this month and started using it this week. The idea of being a DJ for the room may sound lame at first -- and maybe it is -- but it is also awesome. However I will warn you to resist being a DJ. You will be drawn in and waste massive amounts of time. It's completely unnecessary too. Like I said, Turntable is awesome for music discovery. Go to a room that sounds interesting (avoid the Coding Soundtrack unless you really enjoy electronica/dance AND don't mind witnessing pissing contests measured by playing obscure remixes) and enjoy. There's a good chance that you will hear familiar music, but an even better chance you will hear something you've never heard before. The DJs try hard to impress, and you win because of it. It's like Pandora, but better, with no ads, and ... you always have the option to enter the chat or even take your turn at DJ'ing.

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