Top Tools for Finding Tunes
It seems like a month can't pass without a new option popping up for downloading, listening to or sharing music on your computer and smartphone.
Some, such as Amazon's CloudDrive, Google's Music Beta and Apple's yet-to-be-released iCloud service, act like electronic lockers for storing digitized music online and downloading it to internet-enabled devices. Others, such as Pandora and Storify, are more akin to radio stations that let you listen to individual songs or entire albums and share what you like with other subscribers.
The plethora of online music options is making it an "unbelievable time" for music lovers, John Hannibal, an audio-video consultant and co-owner of a mobile DJ business, tells Cleveland.com. "It's a total game-changer."
Here's a rundown of some of today's more popular music apps:
1. Amazon Cloud Drive: Amazon was the first internet heavyweight to introduce a web-based or "cloud" music service when it launched Cloud Drive last spring. Think of this as Gmail for music: Instead of buying a song and downloading it to your computer or phone, you store it on a web-based server and access it from an iPad, smartphone or other internet-enabled device. Cloud Drive subscribers get 5GB of storage space for free, and can also upload and store music from their personal collections.
2. Apple iCloud: Music lovers won't get their hands on this internet-based music and data storage service until Apple introduces it as part of an upgraded iOS 5 operating system this fall. Once it's available, fans can use iCloud to buy a song on the iTunes store and have it automatically download to any Apple device. They'll also have free use of 5GB of online storage for songs and other electronic files. For an extra $24.99 a year, they can use iCloud's iTunes Match feature to scan their iTunes library and stream songs onto their iPhone, iPad or Mac computer, as long as those songs are among the 18 million on the iTunes store. Songs not on the store can be manually uploaded from a computer hard drive.
3. Google Music Beta: Google introduced its cloud-based music storage service in May and is still operating in test mode, issuing a limited number of invitations to subscribe. Once you're in, you can upload up to 20,000 songs from your personal music collection to a computer or phone equipped with the Music app, available on the Android Marketplace. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is rolling out its own music streaming service, according to news reports. Reuters reports the company is negotiating with major record labels and plans to announce its service by Labor Day.
4. MySpace: Justin Timberlake and other investors are attempting to breathe new life into this granddaddy of all social networks after purchasing it from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Investors want to take it "back to its foundation. And we've found that foundation is music," global marketing director Al Dejewski told AdAge this week. A relaunch is set for later this year. Although details are sketchy, the company is banking on its existing relationships with four major music labels and access to the online libraries of tens of millions of independent artists, according to the report.
5. Pandora: A front-running internet-based radio station, Pandora reached 100 million registered users in mid-July, a month after going public. Type in an artist or song you like, and Pandora creates a customized "station" of similar music that you can save and share with others. The service also lets you like, ban or skip songs. Other internet-based radio stations include Last.fm and Turntable.fm, which uses people instead of computer algorithms to make song selections. The latter is still in invitation-only beta testing.
6. Spotify: A hit in Europe since launching there in 2008, Spotify landed in the United States in July, with three tiers of streamed music from an extensive catalog that users can listen to on a computer or smartphone. The company offers a free, ad-supported service, an ad-free version for $5 a month and a premium service for $10 a month that adds smartphone access, better sound quality and other extras. According to the Boston Herald, the company's already collected 175,000 U.S. customers for its premium service. To get the free version you'll have to snag an invitation from a subscriber. Don't want to wait? Several similar services include Rhapsody, Rdio, Grooveshark and MOG.
7. SongKick Concerts: Love a song you downloaded so much you want to see the band perform it live? Use the free SongKick app to scan your iTunes music library to create a personalized, local concert calendar of your favorite acts. For each show, you'll see the complete lineup, venue map and ticket options, and be able to invite friends to join you.
Where do you find your favorite tunes online?
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