Selecting the Music Service and Format That’s Right for You

Selecting the Music Service and Format That's Right for You

There’s a whole lot of choice out there today for anyone who enjoys music. There are more services than you could name, that specialise in gathering together the hottest new tracks and bringing them directly to you, and there are plenty of platforms for discovering, reviewing, and shopping around for music, too.

Sometimes, the different companies that operate under the broad banner of the “music industry” will butt heads directly, and draw a lot of attention to themselves. Apple music vs. Spotify represents just such an instance, for example.

But what music service is really going to be right for you? And, for that matter, what format of music is going to be best for your particular needs and interests?

Here are a few factors that should go into that consideration.

Which devices do you want to listen to music on?

MP3s are great, unless, of course, you have no intention of ever listening to music on your computer, or an MP3 player.

By the same token, vinyl records are amazing – unless you are solely looking for music formats that allow you to enjoy your full playlist during long drives out and about in your car.

The devices that you want to listen to your music on – and for that matter, the contexts in which you want to listen to different tracks – will play a major role in determining what sorts of formats you should go after.

Even today, CDs tend to be the best format for cars. MP3s tend to be dominant in most casual listening contexts, and if you’re interested in having listening parties at your home, along with all your friends, vinyl records may have a little something special to offer.

Are you after absolute ease and efficiency, or something “tangible” and “collectable?”

It’s interesting to consider the fact that vinyl records were once the universal height of technological sophistication when it came to music formats, and that even after this technology has been so significantly outstripped by the competition, it’s currently making a big comeback.

When people in the modern day start record collections, they’re not necessarily doing it because they believe vinyl sounds better – although, of course, some people do make that argument.

Instead, a lot of the motivation often has something to do with the idea of having something “tangible” and “collectable” to cherish, appreciate, and feel accomplished about.

On the other side of the coin, though, there are those who don’t care much at all about any of that, and who are only after the greatest possible amount of ease and efficiency, in any given moment. For these people, the extraordinary versatility of digital music formats makes them the crème de la crème.

When figuring out how best to enjoy music in your own life, ask whether you’re really into the idea of “accumulating” something physical, or whether you just want to be able to listen to your favourite tracks no matter where you are, day and night, at the drop of a hat.

Which format and service is likely to offer you the most “longevity?”

Not too long ago, the iPod was the absolute gold standard of MP3 player technology, to the extent that there was virtually no one else in the market who could put up a credible challenge against them at all.

Of corse, since then, iPods have been mostly phased out, and replaced entirely by iPhones. And in the meantime, various other major smartphone brands have been developed, all of which inevitably boast the ability to store enormous music playlists, as well.

When you are deciding what services and formats to use, when amassing your own music library, it’s important for you to consider which options are going to potentially offer you the greatest degree of “longevity.”

In making this consideration, you should ask yourself questions such as “does it look like this company is on the way out?” and you should also ask yourself questions that are generally a bit easier to answer, such as “do I want to be tied to this company and their platform, a decade down the line?”

It might be that you are perfectly happy with the idea of sticking with a given company over the long term, and essentially staking the fate of your music collection on their success or failure.

Then again, it might be that – no matter how much you appreciate a given company or service – your top priority when it comes to considering the future of your music collection, is to go for a medium that makes you as autonomous as possible.

iTunes famously has their own formatting for the songs and entertainment media that are imported into the platform. With Spotify, too, you can’t just move the contents of your library around in the form of MP3s and .WAV files.

All the same, there are platforms that will sell you albums in these formats, and if you own a CD or vinyl record, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to come into your house and take it away from you if the company was sold It to you goes bust, even if something like that happens in the case of digital services.

Which company would you prefer to support?

When it comes to figuring out what music services to use, there are all sorts of practical considerations that could keep you jumping back and forth and reflecting on things ad nauseam.

Outside of the specific pragmatic pros and cons of using a given service versus another one, however, it may also be worthwhile just asking yourself “which of these companies would I prefer to support?”

When you decide to go all in with using a particular music service, you are essentially forming a sort of alliance with the company who provides the service, and are voting with your wallet and tacitly approving of them, and their business practices.

You don’t necessarily need to go through some intensive investigative journalistic process here, but it’s worth knowing whether you’d be willing to stand by that “allegiance” if you gave it some thought.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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