Music Purchasing vs. Music Streaming


[ot-caption title=”Spotify is changing the way that we listen to music. (via Zachary Shevin/Freshman)” url=””]

The way people listen to their music has evolved dramatically over time. From the phonograph to the record player, from cassettes and Walkmans to the craze for CDs, people everywhere have always found a way to listen to the music that they love. However, as new sources for music expand and become easier to obtain, these predecessors become a thing of the past. Created in 2001, iTunes has given the world the ability to listen to purchased music anytime and anywhere. Most songs sold on iTunes are sold for a dollar and twenty-nine cents per song and can be downloaded and enjoyed on a device compatible to iTunes, including cell phones and laptops. However, this sensational industry of enjoying music is beginning to meet its match and losing its spark, as new websites and apps offer the ability to either stream music for free or have full access with a subscription.

Pandora was one of the first music streaming applications to become popular. This app creates customized radio stations based on the music that you want to listen to. Essentially, it is a free radio experience tailored to your taste. Pandora does have three minutes of advertising for each hour of listening, but offers Pandora One, an ad-free Pandora experience, to customers for approximately four dollars per month.  Many other music-streaming services with this radio-essence have been created as well, including Google Play Music, Rdio, and Beats Music.

The current leader in the music streaming industry is Spotify. Spotify has over 40 million cell phone and computer users. Spotify allows users to stream any song at any time, free of charge on the computer. Spotify’s library of over 20 million songs has just about every song imaginable. Hannah Printz, a sophomore who enjoys Spotify, says, “I like Spotify because I can get all of the music I need for free, without having to waste my parents’ money.”  The Spotify app, used by many on the iPhone, allows users to shuffle their playlists on the go. Spotify also adds an interesting social media aspect, as users can connect, either through Facebook or with a free Spotify account, in order to share their music with their friends.

Freshman Jordan Moldow is a fan of the free computer application; he shares, “I can discover new music easily, whether by ‘following’ my friends and checking out what they’re listening to or by scrolling through the ‘Top Ten Charts’ that Spotify offers.”  Spotify, whether it be online or on a mobile device, is notorious for its overwhelming amount of commercials. However, for 10 dollars each month, Spotify Premium gives users the Spotify experience free of the distraction of advertisement. It also gives mobile users the same capabilities given to computer listeners, including the favored ability to choose specifically which song to select rather than just pressing “shuffle” and waiting for the song to come up. The ability to choose what song and not have a restriction over the “skip option” is why over a million people pay for Spotify Premium.

Some music listeners, however, still rely on iTunes. These people appreciate their ability to pay by the song and keep anything they have purchased in their music libraries for as long as they wish. A strong advocate for iTunes, Junior Cedric Wille, feels that his music is secured by buying his own songs; he says, “iTunes has always been dependable, so why stray away from it?” Purchased music is extremely easy to listen to on the go with the use of a mobile device. For some people, purchasing by the song is a better economic option than paying for a monthly subscription. For those who are happy with buying less than ten dollars worth of music, iTunes is cheaper than a Spotify Premium subscription. Even though Spotify and other streaming options have immense libraries filled with different genres, iTunes still holds the largest music selection with over 26 million songs.

Although it is clear that iTunes is not going anywhere anytime soon, the music streaming industry is definitely tipping the scale in their favor as the desire for faster streaming intensifies. Services like Spotify and Pandora are beginning to take away some of iTunes’ customers because of the struggle of transferring iTunes music from one device to another through syncing. However, iTunes has also started to adapt to the changing times, creating iTunes Radio, a service very similar to Pandora. Even with purchasing and streaming technologies both thriving at once, many people are asking one crucial question: Will the music streaming industry eventually be able to drive music purchasing into extinction? As for the answer, we will just have to wait and see.

Sources: Wikipedia, Pandora, Digital Trends, Spotify, Apple