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Should You Use Spotify or Buy Your Own Music?

Updated on August 21, 2016
Alessio Ganci profile image

Alessio is not one of Google Top Contributors in Google forums by chance: technology is one of his favorite topics! Check his articles here!

Spotify is the most popular cloud music service right now and is supported on every PC and mobile device! It provides several apps to be downloaded, and even a web player from which you can listen to music "on-the-fly"!
Spotify is the most popular cloud music service right now and is supported on every PC and mobile device! It provides several apps to be downloaded, and even a web player from which you can listen to music "on-the-fly"!

Two Ways of Listening to Music

Listening to music is probably one of our favourite activities! When we go running or when we are at home and want to relax, there are lots of moments in which we want to select our favourite songs and albums and enjoy them. But how can you listen to music? Actually if you have CDs at home you can listen to them, but if you are relying on your mobile devices or in general on your PC (in which you are listening music you don't have on CDs), how can you enjoy your music (in addition to ripping it from CDs)? You can purchase it through online music stores: you pay for it with your credit card or with a gift card and then you get your music ready to be listened to! In addition all the music you get can be listened and synced with all your devices in which you have the online music store's player installed! Finally you can even export your music as MP3 tracks and listen to them everywhere, you can even burn them into a personal audio CD: that's because music is no longer sold with DRM protections, so that it can be freely copied everywhere for personal use.

We are all for selling music without DRM.

— Steve Jobs (in an open letter in which he expresses the desire of a world without DRM in music)

This is an important aspect, since once online music stores used to sell music with DRM. Nextly, Apple and other companies started to sell music without DRM, as a result of agreements with record companies. Today when you buy a song you are pretty sure you are getting it without DRM! Obviously music you download from Spotify Premium and similar services will always be DRMed: you are not owning the music in this case, but you only own the right to play it on the service's app and under specific conditions (for example, as long as you stay subscribed to the paid service).

Do you listen more often to your own music or to music hosted on cloud services?

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An other option to listen to music on mobile devices and PCs is that offered by online music cloud services, for example the popular Spotify app. These are services in which you pay for a subscription and then you get access to all the music listed on the service: since all big discographic companies make available their music on Spotify, with a subscription you have access to virtually all the commercial music tracks and albums released in the world. Some services like Spotify even offer free access to the music, without paying for any subscription: if you are listening to music by using a PC, free access is enough and you have no limits; otherwise, if you use a mobile phone, you will get ads during your listening and you will not be able to play the songs you want in a playlist: you will get random songs: only with premium subscription you will be able to listen to all the music you want without limits also on mobile devices, and you can even download songs for offline listening. Obviously, as I noted before, in this case songs are DRMed: you cannot pay only 10 dollars and download all the music of the world in a month and keep songs forever: you can listen to downloaded tracks only within the Spotify app and as long as you stay subscribed. When you stop subscription all the songs you have downloaded will be unplayable, and when you restart the subscription you will get access to them for another time!

Having access to million of songs means also being able to choose the best music for every moment. Spotify offers several ready playlists: this advert, for example, is related to Spotify workout playlists! Because gymnastics is more funny with music!
Having access to million of songs means also being able to choose the best music for every moment. Spotify offers several ready playlists: this advert, for example, is related to Spotify workout playlists! Because gymnastics is more funny with music! | Source
In addition to buying music on CDs, iTunes is one of the most popular online music stores... also Google Play Music, Amazon Music Store and Microsoft Store are popular online music stores! They also offer books and movies (with DRM, except music).
In addition to buying music on CDs, iTunes is one of the most popular online music stores... also Google Play Music, Amazon Music Store and Microsoft Store are popular online music stores! They also offer books and movies (with DRM, except music).

Where do you mainly purchase your music?

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The Main Difference Between Purchased Music and Cloud Services

The main difference between purchasing music or purchasing a subscription to cloud music services is that in the first case you own your music, and so you purchase it by paying a fixed price: you can listen to your song forever and you will never have to pay again for it: it's just yours! You can even listen your own music wherever you want: mobile phone, PC, TV, etc... In the second case you don't own music: you pay for a subscription which gives you the right to access music through the app and only as long as you stay subscribed (unless your cloud service offers a free access, like Spotify, with advertisements). In this second case you have a subscription to pay (especially if you want to listen to music in offline mode, so without an internet connection) and you will never own what you listen to, but as a compensation for this limitation, you will have virtually unlimited access to all the music available in the world (it is up to music companies to decide to make their music available on Spotify, but practically all the big music companies in the world do that)!

 
Purchased Music
Online Cloud Services
Price
A fixed price for every song or album you purchase
A subscription price (or free with advertisements, only online listening and other limitations)
Quantity
The songs you have purchased
Million of songs available on the service
Limitations
Nothing (it's your music!). The obvious limitation is that you can't share it illegally
You cannot listen to music without the service's app and you cannot listen to offline music if you stop subscription
The choice is: having a limited number of songs to listen to but paying for them once and owning them forever... or having unlimited access to songs but paying for a subscription, without owning them?

Do you listen only to your favourite artists or do you listen to everything?

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Did You Know That The World's Largest Record Store is in Los Angeles?

A
Amoeba Music:
6400 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028, Stati Uniti

get directions

Amoeba Music is the world's largest independent record store. When you visit Los Angeles, you should definitely go to Sunset Boulevard and visit it!

So What is Good for You?

It is quite simple: if you listen only to your favourite artists, it is better for you to purchase your music. Instead, if you listen to everything, and also need to get custom playlists for every activity you do (like playlists for runners, crossfit, or even to help you to sleep), and in general you are a music lover who does not have specific favourite singers, and listens to everything, you should definitely subscribe to a cloud music service and enjoy unlimited access to songs. Most of the people own their favourite music (are you really saying you don't have any CD at home?) but they also like to have access to an unlimited selection of songs: in this case you own your favourite music, but in addition you also listen to other songs you don't own. So you pay both for your music and for a subscription, and this can be an option. Or in addition, you can even own your music and listen to it and, when you want to try something new, you can open Spotify app on PC and enjoy unlimited listening without paying anything... or when you are out of home and with a flat internet plan on your phone, you can enjoy some random songs with ads... there are various uses of purchased music and online cloud services.

Spotify... and Other Services

If you like to listen to music on cloud services, you will know for sure Spotify, which is the most famous service. But it is not the only one. There are also other services you can try and everyone has its own peculiarities, so that you can choose the one that best fits your needs! All of these also offer a free trial of premium features. Here are the most famous Spotify alternatives:

Free all the power of Google Play Music...
Free all the power of Google Play Music...
... and of YouTube!
... and of YouTube!
  • Google Play Music Unlimited <-> YouTube Music Key: they are two services offered by Google, when you enable one of them you also get the other one freely! Google Play Music Unlimited simply allows you to listen to all the music published on the Play Store without paying for it! If you host your music (purchased on Play Store or uploaded to your Google Account from other sources) to Google Play, by enabling this service you can keep listening to your own music without limits (it remains yours obviously), but in addition you get all the power of listening to unlimited songs on the Play Store without paying for them... or well, at any time you can also purchase the songs you listen through Unlimited subscription in order to "unlock them"! If your main music player is Google Play's one, this service is very suitable for you, as you have your own music and the unlimited selection of songs in one single app. In addition with the YouTube Music Key included subscription you can watch YouTube movies without ads, you can even download movies to your phone (as always, they are available as long as you stay subscribed) and you can also listen to music videos without keeping the YouTube app opened! Another advantage is that both Google Play and YouTube support Google Chromecast, if you own it: Spotify does not support Chromecast devices right now, even if it can be played on modern smart TVs or devices like Roku (just search for the Spotify app on your TV and install it! The only negative aspect is that Unlimited does not have a "free access" option like Spotify (with ads and some limitations), if you live outside USA. If you live in the USA, instead, you will also have the "free access" option, with ads and with the option to access music through radio stations (so through playlists already made for you).

The key to have unlimited access to all the iTunes library. Like in Google Play, all your purchased music and songs added through Apple Music live together!
The key to have unlimited access to all the iTunes library. Like in Google Play, all your purchased music and songs added through Apple Music live together!
  • Apple Music: this is the new service launched by Apple, which provides you with unlimited access to all the songs published on the iTunes Store. Like the Google service, it is a very good choice if you mainly use Apple devices in your life. You get also access to a local radio, with music interviews and even more. This is a service for which Apple also released an Android app (probably the first Apple service to be supported also on Android)! It does not currently provide a free service with ads like other cloud alternatives.

A Comparison Between Apple Music & Spotify Made by CNET

The music streaming service of Microsoft Xbox collection (now rebranded as Microsoft Groove)
The music streaming service of Microsoft Xbox collection (now rebranded as Microsoft Groove)
  • Microsoft Xbox Music Pass & Groove Music: they are two music streaming services provided by Microsoft and they work well especially on PCs with Windows 8 and Windows 10 (which have integrated support to Microsoft online entertainment services), Windows Phones and Xbox consoles. Like Apple service, they are only paid music streaming options. The fact that there are two services is that Microsoft is rebranding the Xbox service to Groove: they continue to appear as two Microsoft offers, but Microsoft is switching its support to Groove. So if you are planning to subscribe to Microsoft streaming music services, you should directly subscribe to Groove, as you are automatically start using the service Microsoft will support in the future. If one day Xbox Music Pass will be stopped definitely, users will need to switch to Groove (probably Microsoft will automatically migrate all Xbox Music Pass users to Groove in order that existing subscriptions would not be stopped suddenly). Both services also work on Android, through the apps available on the Google Play Store, and on iOS, through the ones available on the iTunes Store.

Even the king of online e-commerce, Amazon, offers a music streaming service!
Even the king of online e-commerce, Amazon, offers a music streaming service!
  • Amazon Prime Music: Prime is the name which Amazon uses to identify a series of subscriptions providing you with some advantages: there is one for free shipping (useful if you often make purchases through the web store), one for unlimited access to a movie library and also one for music. Prime Music allows you unlimited access to all the music sold on Amazon MP3 Store. If you already have the Prime subscription, Prime Music is already included for free. Otherwise, it is available only as a paid subscription service. Like the Prime subscription for movies, Prime Music is not available in all countries yet.

A service very similar to Spotify!
A service very similar to Spotify!
  • Deezer: it is another great online cloud music service, which, like Google's one, supports also Chromecast on the Android app! It offers a free access option with ads like Google service and Spotify: the difference is that Deezer's free service, like Spotify, is available in a lot of countries, while Google free access is only available in the USA right now.Finally the free edition has similar limitations to the one of Spotify, so they are two very similar services!

Once a file-sharing service, now Napster is a paid music streaming service!
Once a file-sharing service, now Napster is a paid music streaming service!
  • Napster: once it was a file sharing service and it faced some legal actions because of users sharing illegal copyrighted songs. After this past, Napster has been acquired by several companies, and finally by Roxio. From its past of file sharing service, Napster became a completely legal music purchase service, however it offers only paid subscription, not the free access with ads and limitations.

And you? What music streaming service do you use?

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Today access to music is very simple! You can choose among different online music streaming services or you can purchase your music through shops or online music stores!
Today access to music is very simple! You can choose among different online music streaming services or you can purchase your music through shops or online music stores! | Source

Test Your Knowledge About Online Music Streaming Services

Here you can have fun by playing the quiz about online music streaming services!

How to Play the Quiz

Just choose one answer in the quiz box (at the right) for every question. If you select a correct choice, you will get 2 points, otherwise you will loose a point. There are no prizes unfortunately, just play, entertain yourself and check if you know everything about online music streaming services!









This is an example of Google Play Music cloud storage service: you upload your own music on your cloud space and then you can listen to it on every device you own! And even if one device gets broken... your music is safely stored on Google servers!
This is an example of Google Play Music cloud storage service: you upload your own music on your cloud space and then you can listen to it on every device you own! And even if one device gets broken... your music is safely stored on Google servers! | Source

Do you use online music storage services?

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Did you already know of the existence of these services before reading this hub?

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And What About Streaming your Purchased Music in One Place?

If you listen more to your own purchased music rather using online streaming services, you can have a lot of options to manage your tracks! Surely having only lots of CDs without being able to carry your tracks with you on your mobile phone may be uncomfortable, that's why it is always suggested to rip your CDs (even in the case they get broken). But when you have ripped them, what can you do? Store them in a device? Backup regularly all your songs in order that you don't need to rip them another time in case your devices get broken? Well, fortunately you can rely on cloud storage services that will allow you to store music! Right now you can store your music on Google Play Music account (there you listen to your Google Play purchased songs, to songs added from Unlimited subscription, if you have one, but you can also listen to any song you upload in your cloud storage). When you store your music there, it is keeped safely on Google servers and also often matched with songs already published on Google Play Store (so your songs will not be technically uploaded in most cases, but they are associated with the same copies already present in the Play Store, making upload process very fast, and when songs are not on Play Store, they are entirely uploaded in your space). Then you are able to listen to your music anywhere, on the cloud or by downloading songs to your devices, but all synced with your account. The same you can do with your Microsoft Dropbox account (which has a Music upload section) and with Apple Match (which however requires a paid subscription).

© 2015 Alessio Ganci

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