Thursday, June 27, 2013


Internet definitely advanced how we listen to music.  Radio streaming for example provided us endless songs to play and to discover, that is as long as you're connected online. 

With the tons of music-streaming services like the popular ones: Pandora, Rdio and Spotify, what do the two internet giants Apple and Google have in store for us?

Google Play Music All Access

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Released last May, Google Play Music All Access (repeat 4 times and breathe) lets you listen to radio stations or search your favorite music to over the 18 million song selection. You don't necessarily have to be an Android user, you can simply log-in to your Google account, and experience its music platform. 

Listening to a radio station gets more exciting because you can choose and create the type of radio station you prefer and save a song you like to your music library, together with your other downloaded songs! All Access seems to give importance to library storage than playlists, it's overwhelming to know that you can combine both your uploaded music library and streaming library. Free users can save to up to 20,000 songs while the paid "All Access" account of almost $10 a month lets you save songs even if you don't own it. Yes like iTunes, one can also "own" music by having the collection in a web app or cloud.  

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You can create the "unlimited skipping" radio stations based on an artist, genre, track, album or user-created stations shared via Google+. In favor to my habit, and probably one of All Access' edge, is the queued radio playlist where you can see what track would come next and swipe away what you don't like. 

Discover new music on its 'Explore' section where it shows the latest, recommended (based on your trail song choices), and featured music which is suggested by Google's music team. You can share music / playlists and see others' too in, well where else, but Google+ of course! Lastly its offline functionality lets you enjoy your music library even if you don't have the internet access - thanks to caching tracks! 

Google Play Music All Access is also now available for iOS.

iTunes Radio

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Believing that it's better late than never, just 2 weeks ago Apple released the iTunes Radio which they would like to call "radio re-imagined". Apple's streaming radio service is now here to be at par or even be better than the early comers in the music streaming industry. You can access it through iOS 7 devices and unlike Google's All Access, it is only available to Mac and PC with iTunes.

To give it a good start, iTunes Radio is actually free although supported by ads. The iTunes Match subscribers get to experience it ad-free. With Apple having the biggest music store online, it is no surprise that they have about 35 million songs to listen to. Create your radio station also by genre, artist or song. You cannot save your favorite tracks in the iTunes library though. It is also said that they have unlimited skipping, but those who tried it think otherwise.

For their radio streaming service, Apple also made deals with major labels like Warner, Universal Music and hell yeah, Sony! Here's the catch though, despite the vast resources Apple have, the selection of songs while you stream would be guided by an algorithm. The iTunes Radio would suggest the songs to be played based on your use and listening pattern to their radio and to iTunes as well. It is somewhat similar to Apple's Genius Playlist and Genius Mixes. The challenge with this is the rich data they should have in order to provide the listeners the right tracks according to their listening habit. You can improve the station by choosing "play more like this" or "never play this again". 

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One of iTunes Radio's edge is its full time history. You can visit the songs you've played in its History tab. Also, discover new music by its "Feature station" which includes a themed playlist, artist on tour, other's customized radio stations, or those trending in Twitter. You can also tweak your station from "popular" to get the mainstream tracks, or to "discovery" and introduce yourself to new music. Unfortunately Apple's radio service isn't available offline.

I hope iTunes Radio would continue to exhaust their resources and not just exist as a representative to the other competing music services online. 

Both are still not available in the Philippines but eventually I'm sure it will. All in all, these two music streaming services from Google and Apple will let you enjoy great music based on your own curation, while letting you discover new favorites as well!

About Fao Rani Yarte

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