Getting more music in my life
August 1, 2012 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me simplify the project of getting more music into my life on a daily basis? I am at home alone most days and would love to have more music on in the background as I work. I get overwhelmed with all the choices. Spotify? Pandora? iTunes radio? Do I pay for the upgrade so I can avoid ads? Is getting good music in my life time-consuming? Do I just need to devote some time to the project or is it relatively easy?

I like a mix of classical, 70s rock, rap, country and stuff like Jakob Dylan radio. I am sure I am making this harder than it needs to be but would love some direction. Should I take the time to personalize my favorites on Pandora and pay for the upgrade? I have a computer, iphone 4S, ipod and radio and I think i could easily get Sirrus in my car. Also, is finding good podcasts (or podcasts that interest you)time consuming? When you see a playlist rec'd by someone on the web how do you save it for future reference or purchase? Thanks for your suggestions!
posted by seekingsimplicity to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I am in (was in?) a similar situation. I found it totally worth it to subscribe to Pandora--the ads were so annoying, and I feel like I've gotten WAY more than $35 worth (or whatever) in the course of a year.

I really like being able to make a station around any name (song, artist) and see what clusters around it. I can try stuff out on a whim, from whatever source of inspiration. If I really like a particular artist or song I will pony up at iTunes and get it on my iPhone. This has really filled out my collection in the last year.

Don't know too much about other options, but will be eagerly reading to learn. Thanks for asking!
posted by Sublimity at 3:33 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Spotify is great too. They recently made listening on mobile phones free (listening on the desktop was always free).

Of the various subscription services, I like Mog the best. It uses AAC Plus streaming on mobile devices, which is very easy on your data plan. $10 a month.

Slacker is also pretty good; it has a sort of combination of the features of Pandora and a subscription plan, plus it can download tracks to your mobile phone every night automatically over your home WiFi so you can listen to your "stations" without using any data. It's also $10 a month.

A couple other mobile services I can recommend areSongza (you tell it what you're doing, it suggests playlists that would go well with that activity) and 8tracks, which lets you stream from a ton of curated music lovers' playlists. Both are free.

All these services also have Web listening so you can enjoy them on your computer.

I keep hearing rumors that Microsoft will unveil a new Xbox music subscription service this fall that has double or triple the selection of existing services and will offer apps for various mobile operating systems. I'd keep an eye open for news on this front.
posted by kindall at 3:44 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I found Get Work Done just today - it's free, seems to work outside the US (worth mentioning, trust me!) and it's a great site to just play in the background. I like the simplicity of it; there's no fussing with playlists or ads etc.
posted by Chorus at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]

I love Spotify and totally credit it with expanding the music I listen to. However, the interface isn't great for browsing - the Related Artists feature is my preferred way to browse, which I use by listening to the related artist Top Tracks. The new Radio feature seems really promising for better browsing, though, as do some of the apps. I also like the playlists shared by other users, particularly the ones by music critics like Pitchfork.
posted by k8lin at 3:52 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Both the Instacast (podcasting) and TuneIn Radio apps are pretty fantastic. Instacast makes it super easy to just look up/save/queue various podcasts, and TuneIn Radio is great for browsing through worldwide radio stations.
posted by thebots at 4:27 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Spotify because I'm a music snob and don't like music being chosen for me at random. Pandora almost always mixes music I don't like or seems completely unrelated into their channels.

I stream Spotify from my phone using their premium subscription. I love that it allows me to make playlists and subscribe to other people's.
posted by loriginedumonde at 5:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Pandora, simply because it's been so wonderful for our whole family. We use it primarily with our Bose radio. You can try it out for free (we don't find the ads all that annoying, but opted to pay after we'd used it awhile). My daughter felt ignorant about classical music in general, and now not only enjoys more, but knows what she's enjoying. All of us have discovered many new (to us) artists, and expanded the genres we do like. We've had the most success with "seeding" a new station with an individual artist -- and I think the key is using the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons, at least for pieces you absolutely hate or love.

I haven't tried the others mentioned here, so can't compare. But Pandora's done it for us!
posted by kestralwing at 6:50 PM on August 1, 2012

nthing 8tracks!
posted by victory_laser at 1:07 AM on August 2, 2012

This might sound unusual, but hear me out:

Get a MiniDisc player. Only listen to music you've personally transferred to MiniDisc.

I have an iTunes collection with a bajillion songs. At best, it was background noise. I could have sat down in a comfy chair and listened to an album, but I never did.

Last year I scored a mint-in-box portable MiniDisc recorder for $10. Using it is not easy, especially on a Mac with a busted optical drive. I have to make an investment of time to get the music from here to there. It should be enormously frustrating, but there's something 'lentil, a stone' about it - a zen, step-by-step process that focuses the mind on the here and now.

At the end of it, I have an album on a little disc. Because of the time involved, I only have a few such albums. But unlike my iTunes collection with its umpteen squillion tracks, I listen to my MiniDiscs every day. I mean really, really listen. I think very carefully about which album will next get 'the treatment'. And then I listen the hell out of it. I only have so many discs, so if I want something new, I have to let something else go.

No choice is bad, but often lots of choices can be just as bad. I've reduced my choices to 'just enough'. 'Time consuming' isn't a bad thing, because I've harnessed the sunk costs fallacy to my advantage.

Plus, you know, teeny weeny discs!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:26 AM on August 2, 2012

Spotify is great too. They recently made listening on mobile phones free (listening on the desktop was always free).

I love Spotify as well. But, I just wanted to make a slight correction. You can listen to the "radio" (which is basically Pandora-like) for free on your phone/ipod. But you can't stream your own playlists on your mobile device without a premium subscription ($10/month).

It's not that easy to do music discovery (though the radio is getting better), but I found the Pitchfork add-on thingy inside Spotify to be convenient (if that's your preferred type of music).
posted by bluefly at 11:02 AM on August 2, 2012

« Older Healthy muffin recipe needed   |   Stopping dribbles of rusty coffee coming through... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.