I’m not too fussy with my music and after a change of job I now have the chance to put the headphones on a listen whilst at my computer. My music collection is reasonable, but I find myself wanting a radio style mix of music, but without the radio presenters.
The two companies I’ve been playing with for the last couple of months are Last.fm and Spotify.
For nothing a month on Last.fm you get webstreaming and visual ads, with the music stopping if you don’t look at the site regularaly enough.
Spotify provide a web app, with Last.fm like radio stations, plus the ability to listen to albums or tracks at will. But at nothing a month you have limited playtime and the rather annoying Kia Cee’d adverts every third song.
In theory both services free offerings should provide me with what I need. Web access radio on Last.fm and the choice to listen to an album at will with Spotify.
However there is a firewall issue with Last.fm at work and the radio streams either fail completly, or if they do play leave 5 minute gaps between tracks.
Because of this I then have to look towards the premium services.
For £3 a month Last.fm provide non-stop, ad-free radio on both PC and mobile.
For £5 a month Spotify provide non-stop, ad-free radio and choose-your-own albums for the PC.
For £10 a month Spotify provide everything on your mobile as well, plus offline storage.
By selecting the £3 Last.fm pro account I can listen to the music on my phone* which gets around the firewall problem without putting a large dent in to my wallet. I also find that the Last.fm radio service is just “better” than Spotify. I’m not sure if this is because my Last.fm account dates back to October 2005 and that they have better data on me, or I’m just used to it.
That said if/when Google release All Access to the UK, maybe I’ll look at it all again.
* when I say listen on my phone my actual setup is slightly more awkward, I have my phone connected to the laptop to draw power, the phone bluetooth audio paired with the laptop, and my headphones connected to the laptop. This allows me to continue to listen to audio elsewhere (Spotify/YouTube) without having to broadcast it to the whole office, or having to unplug the headphones each time.