Tag Archives: iTunes

Spotify and Pandora make iTunes obsolete

Much like what iTunes did to the CD business, Spotify and Pandora radio are quickly becoming the preferred source of music for millions of listeners.

Why would you pay for music when it’s legally free on the internet? For the price of a modem and a monthly internet bill, you can have access to more music than you will ever be able to listen to. If I care about the health of my wallet then I’m more likely to look up a song on youtube than pay $1.29 on iTunes. It’s free and it’s legal; why would you spend the money?

Pandora burst on scene 14 years ago becoming a mainstay for any causal music fan. According to the 2011 United States of America Census, the U.S. found that 71.7 percent of Americans had access to the internet at home. Almost three quarters of all Americans can listen to any genre of music they want for free with Pandora radio.

Pandora and Spotify have the upper hand over iTunes. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Pandora and Spotify have the upper hand over iTunes. Graphic by Katie Gibson

Pandora’s catch is in the term ‘radio’. Pandora operates in a way that allows the user to control nearly every aspect of the music being listened to except the ability to request a specific song. Whim’s Editor in Chief, Julian Guerra prefers Pandora and so do plenty of other college students. Pandora’s platform is perfect for anyone who will be working at a computer for a few hours; we can all suffer through a few advertisements if it means we can focus on that term paper we’ve been putting off. Pulling all-nighters isn’t such a bad thing when Pandora is on your side.

What about when you’re craving some “Baba O’Reilly (Teenage Wastland)?” You can’t request that song on Pandora and frankly, YouTube is rather annoying when you have to constantly be picking the next song. This is where Spotify comes into play.

Spotify is a downloadable application that aims to merge your music with your Facebook friends. You can follow friends to see what they listen to and even follow their specific playlists. That awesome party mix you heard last Friday might just become yours the next time you throw a shindig.

Spotify is miraculous in the way it operates; as long as you have an internet connection, you can listen to nearly any song for free. It has a layout similar to iTunes, but doesn’t ask for pocket change for every song. It does have sporadic advertisements like Pandora, but once again, most of us don’t seem to mind.

It seems that (thanks to Pandora and Spotify) the slippery business of digital music has turned iTunes into an obsolete option for students and music fans alike.

Gift ideas for the average college student

Winter is almost officially here, and with it will come the holiday craziness. After spending weeks studying for finals and writing papers, now is the time to show your appreciation for the friends who have been there through it all. More often than not, money is tight and you may feel you can’t afford gifts for everyone this year. For all of you out there who have repeatedly used the framed picture idea, here are some new money savvy ideas. Included in this article are a few good gifts that you may or may not have considered. Continue reading Gift ideas for the average college student

Radcentric: Matthew Bagley, Radford’s hip-hop star

Today on Radcentric we talk with Radford University sophomore Matthew Bagley.

Bagley, known on stage as Alexander Mack, is an up-and-coming rapper whose music can be found on soundcloud. He sat down with us to discuss his influences and his opinion on the music industry.

Hear the full podcast here.

Continue reading Radcentric: Matthew Bagley, Radford’s hip-hop star

Spotify: The way of the future?

Spotify, Spotify, Spotify. It seems as if that’s all we hear about recently, but to be fair, it’s not that new. Spotify used to be a European-only service and was introduced to the US over the summer in beta and became officially open to all users as of November 2011. The service allows users to “save” music to their profile and listen to it whenever they want, kind of like if Pandora and iTunes had a baby (minus the random music generator via Pandora). The catch, of course, is that in order to listen to it anywhere, like on your iPhone for however long you want, you have to pay for it. Continue reading Spotify: The way of the future?

Steam: Friend or foe?

Photo from Creative Commons

Steam is a program that provides an iTunes-like service for gamers everywhere. Is your favorite store out of hard copies? No problem. Just buy it on Steam for the same price. The wait between purchase and play time might be longer, but at least users know their games will never be out of stock. This is a real advantage to gamers whose main format of playing is the PC.

In many ways Steam could be compared to Xbox Live or the PSN. It offers many of the same features that either of those console-based online services do as well. There are friends lists and achievements for games just like on either console-based online service. Steam has a bigger advantage by being willing to host free content for download, which is often a very good thing for indie game companies who are trying to get a start in the industry. Typically the indie games aren’t the greatest as far as graphics are concerned, but they tend to have an innovative style that is all their own. In this way, Steam is a huge helping hand for the gaming industry as it helps to prevent it from becoming stagnant and stale.

There are some down sides to Steam. The program is typically fully integrated into a user’s computer, thereby not allowing users to keep Steam purchases and retail purchases separate. So if a game is on Steam, it must be validated via Steam as well as by the usual means. This, while a minor annoyance, can be extremely frustrating for users at other times. The frustration has do to a number of bugs that occasionally occur within Steam that are known to prevent validation, forcing users to uninstall Steam all together.

Another issue users complained of is that pricing globally is not always equal throughout. In European union countries, the conversion rate often causes the games to cost much more than they do in other parts of the world. For versions of Steam within Russia and Thailand, the pricing of games is much less than that of other nations. The pricing can be changed on the whim of the developer allowing them to control the price artificially. It is possible, while rare, for the prices of an electronic version of a game to be higher than a retail copy.

It was recently announced that Steam Works would be making an appearance on the PSN. This would give Playstation 3 users a massive advantage over those using an Xbox 360. While the 360 does have a similar service with their games section on the dashboard, it does not typically offer new games for download. While this isn’t likely to bolster the sales of the PS3 too much, it most certainly makes the machine more appealing to those who haven’t invested in this generation of systems yet. With each company going for the ten year plan, small additions make a large impact.

Steam provides a service that most gamers crave, which is being able to get their hands on a game as soon as possible and not having to wait for hours in line for a new release. Instead, with a click of a button, they are able to purchase to their hearts delight. The issues with Steam is as it grows in popularity it could very well mark the end of hard copies for games. As Internet access grows, the need for physical game disks will shrink as more services like Steam are sure to appear in the future.

Spotify: yet another music revolution

Photo from Creative Commons

Spotify is a pay-for-music service which takes the good things from existing music services and mixes them all together in a giant stew pot. Spotify was predicted to be available for purchase earlier this year. However, recent news suggests it won’t be available for download until much later this year, if at all. The president of Spotify states the reason behind the delayed launch is that it was difficult trying to broker contracts with thousands of American publishers.

Spotify, in appearance, is very similar to iTunes with a sleek simple-to-use interface that has many of the same tabs and functions as iTunes. It also has the streaming capability of Pandora. Want to hear an artist but not sure if you want to buy the song? Just stream it and decide. Spotify allows you to create and play streaming playlists, leaving it up to the user how they plan to make use of the program. Along with the streaming aspect of Pandora, it also borrowed from the suggested artist concept giving users a list of artists they may also like.

Spotify does differ in some exciting ways from those two music services. Sharing a song or playlist with Spotify is as simple as one click to send it out to your friends. The one click option works with Facebook and Twitter, allowing it to cover the two large contenders in the social media field. With Spotify, users also set up their own accounts where they can also share music and show people what songs or artists they like.

The biggest draw for Spotify comes from the music streaming portion of the service. You go to a friend’s house and let’s say their music selection is on the sparse side. Download and log into Spotify, and there are all your playlists waiting there for you ready to be played, even the songs you have downloaded on your other computer. While the downloaded songs are not physically on your friend’s computer, the service remembers what they were and provides a streaming version of the song for your listening enjoyment. This means your music can go just about anywhere you go, whether you own it or not.

Another big part of Spotify is the syncing ability it has with mobile devices. It allows users to play local files, or streamed ones, on to your mobile device off your home network as long as the users’ computer or mobile devices are on the same wireless network. This is only available with the very top tier version of Spotify.

The premium tier of Spotify offers early listening, allowing users to view and hear music content weeks before its release. This allows those who are willing to pay more to truly get their hands on things before anyone else. It also includes an offline mode for both the computer-based program and a mobile app, allowing them much more independant freedom than in the other tiers of user ownership.

Spotify has a great deal of potential, but the tiered content and the fact that a lot of what they provide can be found elsewhere for free may put a hamper on the program’s success even before it’s launched. While it may face some obstacles here in the United States, it already has a strong following in Europe. It’s just a waiting game now to see how well that success in Europe translates to success in the United States.