Mike Vizzoni, Front Rush
Gone are the days of frantically digging through a messy bedroom drawer in search of your prized cassette mixtape. Popping that cassette into a Walkman had a certain gratifying experience that slowly disappeared as music became less physical. Fast-forward to the 90’s and compact discs were all the rage. CDs were the first mainstream format that digitally stored audio recordings. This format may have been similar to cassettes in the way you played it back: simply popping it in your Discman or CD player and rocking out to the latest Weezer or perhaps Backstreet Boys album, but the fact that the music was stored digitally really opened the doors to further innovation.
Once the 2000’s came around we had entered the future. Forget about those clunky cassette tapes and flimsy CDs. Who needs a physical medium for each album when you can reduce that clutter to one MP3 player. With the introduction of Apple’s iPod and several other competing MP3 players, the digital format had officially taken over. The flow now consisted of building a digital library with software on your computer, whether that be iTunes, Windows Media Player, or any other similar product. This could be done by purchasing the content online or ripping songs from a CD to your computer. This was the standard for about a decade, but then smartphones and streaming took over.
Today almost everyone you talk to no longer builds digital libraries or use any type of analog music recording (except for the hipsters and their vinyl’s). The times have changed and we live in the age of communication where almost everything requires immediate gratification. With that need for immediacy came the idea of streaming. Streaming any type of content requires you to have an internet connection. This is necessary because whatever content you are trying to access is not actually housed on your device. You are pulling this data in from a server that could be anywhere in the world. Streaming can be used for many different types of files but let’s focus on music. Here are the most popular music streaming platforms:
The most widely used music streaming service, this company is considered to be the pioneer of music streaming. Spotify has over 30 million paid subscribers. They have a smartphone app, a desktop client, and a web-based player. This company has been on the forefront and is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The music selection is very impressive, having almost any album you could think of. Special features include offline music play, automated playlist curated off of your listening history, shareable playlists, calibration that syncs music to your running tempo, support for Apple Air Play and Chromecast.
Free: Unlimited playback on desktop app, advertisements, no mobile support
Premium ($9.99/month, $4.99/month student $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio, offline playback
30 Day Free Trial: Same as premium
Google Play Music (2011)
This was Google’s go at creating their own streaming service. Not nearly as popular as Spotify, but still a solid platform that supports many of the same features that Spotify has. Google has not released subscription numbers but most would agree that the majority of Google Play Music users are those that are already heavily involved in the Google ecosystem. They have a mobile app and web-based player. Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, free music storage for files on your computer, Chromecast support.
Free: Upload your own music to stream from anywhere, purchase songs
Premium ($9.99/month $14.99/month family): Unlimited playback on web based player and mobile app, no ads, HD audio
30 Day Free Trial: Same as Premium
Apple Music (2015)
One of the more recent streaming services, Apple Music has garnered over 17 million paid subscribers in just over a year. This is pretty impressive and may have something to do with the fact that Apple already has a foot in the door when it comes to portable music and recently acquired the company Beats Electronics. The iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones currently in the market and Apple Music is built for this device. They have an iPhone app and desktop client (accessed through iTunes). Apple Music offers a 3-month free trial which really helped spike people’s initial interest. Special features include automated playlist curated off of your listening history, artist exclusive releases, music video support, Apple Air Play support.
No free option
$9.99/month $14.99/month family $4.99/month student: Unlimited playback on both desktop and mobile app, no ads, HD audio
3 Month Free Trial: Same as above
These are just a few of the music streaming options available today. There are several others including higher end services such as Jay Z’s Tidal and simpler services that strictly offer playlists such as Pandora. The market is constantly expanding as well, with other companies trying to create their own platforms such as Amazon’s Music Unlimited that was just released last week. So, with all of these options how do you possibly pick the streaming service that is right for you? Well, it has honestly come down to preference. Each service is very similar and usually differs based off of small feature differences. Perhaps try each service’s free trial to see which one you like best. Personally, my favorite is Spotify. They have been around the longest and are constantly introducing new innovative features. I also find their user interface to be the friendliest.
For all you coaches out there, always keep in mind that music plays a massive roll in athletics. I’m sure you see many of your players listening to music in the locker room or on the way to games trying to get focused, relax a little, or pumped up before game time. One of the coolest features with Spotify is the ability to share playlists. Perhaps try creating a playlist with your team that you could then all access. Personalize it however you’d like and let all of your players add to it. This could be a great way for your team members to bond a little and get a taste of what each player listens to. Music undeniably brings people together and these streaming services make that experience easier than ever.