Selecting A Music Program for Your Family

I felt it was time to synchronize my house with one music app so I did some research on what made the most sense for us. My objective was to find solid music app I could listen to regularly, as well as use with the kids. Seems easy enough. I decided to sample the big three options for a week at a time, and here’s my observations:watch full film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011 online

Apple Music:

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month.
  • 30 million songs.
  • Some radio stations.
  • Saving locally seemed inconsistent.
  • Works nicely with iTunes, but not everyone in my family has that.
  • Interface was a little difficult.
  • Supposedly lower audio quality (256kbps), but I couldn’t tell the difference between the higher 320 KBPS.

Spotify

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month.
  • 30 million songs.
  • Definitely the best interface. Clean and intuitive.
  • Great job of making playlists I thought were pretty awesome.
  • Improved sound quality of 320KBPS.
  • It had a weekly 30 recommended songs that was always a success.
  • Never had any playing problems. Google and Apple would occasionally stall (but not frequently).
  • It’s the only option for Linux, not that you care.

Google Play:

  • $10 per individual or $15 for family plan of 6 per month. A BIG limitation on the family plan is that the signup account must be a DROID phone user. It didn’t work for me when I tried a Nexus.
  • 50 million songs.  Don’t be deceived by this figure as a lot of the songs are performed by unknown artists “inspired by” the real artists. An example was Memories By David Guetta that is performed by someone else. This essentially just clogs up my search trying to find the real song.
  • Easy to save locally to your Google Play app, but can’t copy like a regular Mp3.
  • Reasonably good interface and easy to make playlists, but not as good as Spotify.
  • They do allow you to upload 50,000 of your own MP3 songs which will probably be mixes you’ve stolen off of youtube (up to 90 minutes in length). However Google is one step ahead of you because they have intelligently brought YouTube into the equation, see next point.
  • YouTube Red is included (not to be confused with RedTube…). This gives a user:
    • Ad-Free Youtube. Let me tell you that this may not seem like much, but once you have it, it’s painful to return to the land of waiting five seconds, then click “skip” every time you want to watch a video.
    • Ability to listen to youtube on your phone, with the Youtube App minimized. Again, this may not seem like much, but once you get used to it, it’s tough to forget.
    • Download videos locally to your phone. This is quite useful for me as a traveler, if I want to scramble to find 4 hours worth of content to watch on a flight, it’s easy to catch up on my “watch later” playlist..
    • Original YouTube content that’s trying to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. I haven’t seen any of these, but they look professional.

Between the big three, the Google Family Plan proved the most optimal choice and I had to beg my Droid-using brother to sign us all up under his account. Spotify was the clear victor based exclusively on Music, but the Youtube element was too enticing.

I really would have preferred to go with Apple this year as they stood up the US government on Privacy contrasted to Google’s Eric Schmidt infamous dismissal of privacy . But I can’t say I’ve regretted my choice.  I don’t get cable, as my kids fulfill all their “TV viewing” on YouTube, so the removal of adds, sometimes ones that were not okay for kids to see, is a big win.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon, Netflix or Hulu purchased Spotify just to form a package that can compete. As it now stands, it seems like a pretty obvious choice for Google Play and I would predict others reach the same conclusion as me.

While doing research, I did consider a couple less well known music options. My comments on them:

Rdio.com:

Tidal:

  • $20 for Lossless compression (wave files). I doubt that makes a difference, but again some people who live and breathe music may think so.
  • 35 million songs.

Pandora:

  • $5 a month or free with ads. Actually most of the above ad-supported free versions. I couldn’t stand them though.
  • Can’t pick your own songs, only rate them, so it’s effectively like the radio.
  • Low quality sound of 192 KBPS.
  • Amazingly only 2 million songs… ouch.

Steve Jobs Bio Is Fascinating Read

The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaac is a fantastic read. Outstanding book on its own, and and outstanding example of what a biography SHOULD be. The book covers a lot of strengths and weaknesses of Jobs, as well as the technical and personal challenges he engaged in.

The best thing about this book is that it doesn’t try to sell you an agenda of Steve Jobs. I have often rolled my eyes when someone states, “Steve Jobs was a technical genius!” I have a hard time stomaching that statement about a man who wrote virtually no code. As this book correctly identifies, Steve Wozniak is the true source of technical success.

However Jobs was certainly an interesting guy. He had fascinating characteristics, but also was quite a narcissistic. My favorite description for his skillset was, “He had an uncanny ability to recognize when a market had products that sucked.”

I distinctly remember the late 90’s being in a college dorm room during the music library revolution as gigabytes of MP3’s flooded my hard drive. Yet I enjoyed working out to music, and was stuck still dragging around a cassette recorder! The technical gap between compressed music and portable music was unbelievable. When the iPod came out, it was exactly what the market so desperately needed.

I would definitely recommend anyone read this who is thinking starting a business or taking on a position of leadership, as the detailing over his relationships with others more fascinating to me than his technical history. I would almost consider not recommending this to someone under 30. Perhaps the renegade inspiration of Jobs might be too inspiring. I have a hard time seeing a Steve Jobs rise through the ranks in today’s world if he continued to showup for work late, with bad odor, swearing a lot, and didn’t take kindly to authority.

Final takeaway that I imagine I was one of the few people to notice. There was a brief mention of a discussion where Jobs was either talking to Bill Clinton or one of his representatives. Jobs essentially admitted to tasking Bill Clinton to “slow down Microsoft” with an anti-trust lawsuit.  Such is the way of the world of power when you give the government the opportunity to persecute business for highly abstract concepts. Ultimately this only hurt consumers as Microsoft had to defend their diabolic plot of delivering an operating system that actually included a browser. Apparently this was something that too many people might want!

Anyway, a very interesting book.