How Do You Listen To Music?

I've got one simple question for you this week:

How do you listen to music?

Do you purchase downloads from iTunes or Amazon MP3?  Do you stream through services like Spotify and Pandora?  Are you old school and listen to CDs or vinyl?

Let me know by responding in the comments below.

As a musician who frequently releases albums and E.P.s, I'd like to know more about how people consume music.  Personally, I'm very happy to pay Spotify $10. a month to stream everything.  I don't need to own it.  But I realize that's not the case with everybody.  

While we're on the topic, I wanted to let you know that I have two full length albums that can be streamed or downloaded from the various music services.  
Also, if you put my name into just about any music service that you use, chances are you'll find them.  

Have a great week!

John Anealio

36 comments:

  1. I prefer owning my own DRM-Free music. I do not have unlimited data, so unless I'm on wifi, I can't/won't/don't stream music.

    I've ripped most of my CD collection, and depending on the price, I'll buy Amazon MP3s or CDs with AutoRip from Amazon, but Amazon is not the only vendor I buy music from.

    When I'm on wifi and do stream, I use either the free versions of Slacker or Spotify (on the destop), or I use the TuneIn Radio app to stream radio stations.

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    1. I had my whole CD collection ripped to iTunes. I also created lots of cool Smart Playlists that I'd refresh every day, so I'd always have something fresh to listen to. But once Spotify came along, I completely abandoned iTunes. Spotify as an application still has a long way to go. There are many things that I want it to do that it doesn't. But having legal access to that much music trumps all of the criticisms that I have of the service.

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  2. I tend to buy (or download for free, if the artist hasn't figured out a way to sell them yet) albums digitally (iTunes, Bandcamp, Zunior, the artists' websites, etc… not Amazon mp3 since that was still US-only the last time I checked) but if there's an album I don't have, or even sometimes one I do have, on a concert merch table, and an artist looking at me pleadingly, I'll buy a CD, and get it signed, then rip it. If I don't have a specific desire to listen to certain songs, I usually listen to a smart playlist of the songs that I've listened to the least and/or the least recently, to make sure I'm familiar with all of them and don't keep listening to the same things. Because of this (or in spite of it?) it can sometimes take me months or years to have listened to a given song enough to realise I like it enough to buy the album/entire discography of the artist, but at least I will eventually.

    I am not a fan of streaming in general (maybe this comes from the days when I had a 14k4 modem) since I don't always have an internet connection (even when I'm in the right country for my phone to have data access, there isn't a fast connection everywhere at all times) and streams don't always play smoothly even when I do.) I often don't even bother to stream previews before buying an album. Besides that, there is no way any streaming service has all the music I have; I have a lot of rare, live, no-longer-available or exclusive (e.g, from a donor's circle) tracks, or things my friends have recorded or that people recorded for competitions (Song Fu, SpinTunes, SongFight) that they haven't thought of distributing in that way yet. Even if it were all available to stream on one service, it would take months to find it all, more time to keep it up-to-date, and why bother when I have it all right here on my hard drive? I can understand how streaming would work for people who are just starting to listen to music now, but I really don't get how people can just throw away their music collections to listen only to what's on the streaming sites, and only when they have a good internet connection that they're allowed to use for such things.

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    1. You bring up some great points. Especially having lots of music (small independent releases, live albums, etc.) that isn't on the streaming services. However, with something like Spotify, you can add the music that you already own (like The Beatles albums) to the app. So I just look at it as keeping everything that I have, but adding lots of new stuff to the mix.

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  3. One thing that I should mention about Spotify (not sure if the other streaming services do this), is that if you do the Premium service for $10. a month, you can cache as many playlists or albums to your device as you want. Meaning you can then listen to them without a Wifi or 3G signal. You just have to cache them when you do have a signal. I cache a few new albums to my iPad or iPod every night, that we I can listen to them in the car or at work the next day when I don't have a signal.

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  4. I still buy some cds, but mostly download on itunes. I am also one of those people that listens to the radio. I'm lucky enough to have several independent radio stations I can pick up, some associated with colleges, some not. This means I get really diverse music for free whenever I'm driving around. Though It's hit or miss, which can also be fun.

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    1. I listen to pop radio in the car with my son. He likes it and I kind of like being aware of what the kids are listening to these days. :-)

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  5. 30% of my music listening is from my archive, ripped from CD in years long past.
    60% is pandora, to stream the collection I can't afford.
    10% is bought online, usually pieces I heard on pandora.

    Plus, I'm lazy. Easier to let pandora sort through it all than to try and divine a random playlist, plus its with me when I'm out even if my device can't hold more than 1/6th of my real collection.

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    1. Yeah, if you can get a good station going on Pandora then you're good to go. I found that Pandora repeated songs to often for my liking, but I haven't used it in a while, so it might be better now.

      Thanks for your input Michael.

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  6. My first preference is to own the physical CD. (Or vinyl, cassette, etc., depending on what it is.) I may rip or transfer them to 320Kbit MP3 for portability (usually just particular songs, not the whole album), but I won't get rid of the physical media.

    If it's something that's difficult or overly-expensive to get physically, my second preference is an MP3 from Amazon. (I don't have iTunes, and after a particularly frustrating experience with an iPod Mini and the craptacular software that came with it, I won't be buying an "i"-anything anytime soon. :P )

    An MP3 downloaded to local storage in my physical possession, I should add. (A networked storage drive configured as a 512Gb RAID-1 array.) I don't use Amazon's "cloud" thing.

    But something like Spotify? Sorry, but no. I will never, *ever* rely on some 3rd-party service, which I do not have direct control over, to be the sole repository of *my* data.

    Whether it's physical media (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) or bits on a hard drive, I will *own* it, and it will be something that is in *my* physical possession.

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    1. Cool. If you use something like Spotify, you have to consider it access, not ownership. I'm comfortable with that, but I know a lot of folks aren't and I completely understand. For me, I live in a small place, so I kind of love not owning anything at this point in my life.

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  7. I'm with many of the above commentors. I prefer to own DRM-less music and will rip CD's I buy or download to get that. I don't stream on my phone because of data limits. Instead, I dump a couple music folders on the phone to listen to what I have (and I've got a big backlog of music to wade through!). At home, I've got a Sonos system connected to Comcast with essentially no data cap so I can stream. But since I haven't wanted to buy into yet another premium service/month, I just listen to a few radio stations broadcasting on the internet and a couple free streaming services like Pandora when I just some different noise and am not searching for new music.

    So how do I actually get new music? I scrape music blogs that review music every once in awhile. I buy from Amazon for mp3's or CD's if they don't have an mp3. The Internet Archive when I want live music sets from particular bands. Buying CD's on site at a show or concert (the few times I go anymore). Of course generous offerings by musicians such as yourself. And if a musician offers something that I really, really like, I'll pony up through Band/Cloud or whatever site they're on.

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    1. Cool. Thanks Kevin! I totally forgot about Archive.org. Now I have to go and check out what's new. I love the live tracks that they have.

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  8. I acquire music in lots of ways -- mostly I buy .mp3s from Amazon, but I'll occasionally purchase something from iTunes if it's not available otherwise. I also still get the odd CD -- currently waiting for Amazon.uk to ship me the two-disc version of the new Martin Simpson; plus I'll often pick up CDs at live shows. And I have Spotify, which I'm mostly using to scratch my nostalgia itch -- stuff that I listened to back in high school but never picked up during the changeover to CD and then .mp3.

    (I almost never actually listen to physical CDs -- just throw them in the computer, rip them and listen to the .mp3 versions.)

    As far as actually listening, I used to mostly just play through my computer's speakers (and I do have good speakers), but I recently picked up an AppleTV and a program called Airfoil that lets me stream the audio from both iTunes and Spotify; so I'm controlling everything from my PC but the audio is going through my receiver.

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    1. I love Martin Simpson! What a fantastic singer and guitarist.

      When I first started using Spotify, I spent most of my time hunting down albums by bands that I liked the singles, but never got around to getting the albums. found lots of cool stuff that way.

      Cool. At home, I often use the Spotify app on my Roku player through the TV speakers. Not the best sound, but good enough and really convenient.

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    2. Oh, and again as far as listening: I know I'm a little bit ... odd ... in this regard, but I much prefer to listen to an entire album, start to finish, then fire up another album.

      It would make me very, very happy if Martin Simpson would tour around in these parts again -- I've seen him a couple times and he's just heartbreakingly good.

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    3. I'm the same way. I almost always listen to complete albums.

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  9. I'm an O.F. As such, I listen to music on the radio a great deal. Top 40 and Oldies mostly, though I'm always open to a good college station or jazz outlet. Not many choices where I am now, but we do have a station with an original format I dig a lot--"Beach, Boogie and Blues"--which is made up of classic R&B, local artist music, and the occasional blues tune (sadly, they also toss disco in there, now and then; kinda ruins the whole thing for me).

    My tastes do run beyond what radio offers, though. As an O.F., I prefer ownership of the physical copy. Think about it. Music, by itself, stimulates only one sense directly. A physical product--CD or vinyl or whatever--will also stimulate your sight, smell and touch (yes, there's a certain aroma to new records and CDs, and definitely to old ones). I tend to be tactile, so just holding it adds a great deal to the experience for me.

    As noted, radio, by itself, can be limiting. So how do I discover new music? In the modern age, there are plenty of avenues for new artists to be heard. There are free downloads (via Bandcamp and Noisetrade and such), sampler albums (via Alternate Root, Paste, and the labels themselves). Certainly, there are some awesome blogs out there that offer tastes of the new and interesting (until the folks at the RIAA hound them out of business. The copyright police are doing far more harm than good to the industry; its sad that they don't get that. I'm not talking about wholesale album theft, but sample tracks offered for streaming only? What is there about that that isn't good for the industry?). Even YouTube holds oodles of undiscovered audio treats (though the videos do less for my visual senses than well conceived and executed cover art). I'll listen to samples on Amazon and CD Baby--occasionally purchasing a full mp3 or two to get a full taste of music that peaks my interest. Sometimes, I'll just buy a CD or record because I like the cover art.

    As a Christmas music enthousiast and blogger, I'm particularly aggressive hunting down holiday music. And many of the artists I find myself addicted to, these days, I first discovered through their Christmas tunes or albums (Mindy Gledhill and Jillaine spring instantly to mind).

    Since few albums can hold my interest all the way through, after a few listens, I tend to make my own genre jumping mix discs for listening at home or when the radio bores me. Again, an assemblage of mp3s streamed on the computer--without a physical CD-R disc--just doesn't work for me, for some reason.

    I don't do "clouds" and I don't own a cell phone.

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    1. You bring up many good points.

      I think the state of music in regards to streaming, downloads, physical media and how artists make a living out of that is an often talked about topic because no one knows how all of this is going to shake out.

      Other than platinum selling artists, I'm not sure if most musicians ever made a substantial part of their living from selling albums. All of the old school artists tend to talk about how they always made most of their money on tour, not through record sales.

      But how do artists today make a living? I think most of us (at least independent folks like me) just aren't going to make a living solely through their music, and that's okay. I think it's okay to have a day job and do your art the way you want to do it. Do your art to share with others. I'm grateful for any money I make with my music, but I'm not dependent on it.

      Oh, and thanks for sharing my Christmas music on your blog over the years!

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  10. I've ripped my entire CD collection into iTunes. I also buy/download music from other sources that I like, like yours, John. ;-) I have used Pandora in the past, but not so much these days.

    I still have some vinyl, but I don't play them much anymore. I tried ripping them to mp3's but they didn't turn out so well. I think I might have played them too much in my younger days, so now they are too worn to give me a good rip.

    I've bought mp3s from iTunes (mostly), Amazon, and you, plus a couple of other places. I'm leery of 'buying' mp3s that I don't get a copy of. I was burned by the Walmart(?) fiasco, but when I heard about it, I swore never to use services like that.

    BTW, when will you be releasing new music?

    Take care.
    Paul Baughman

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    1. Hey Paul,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've wondered how ripping vinyl would sound. Back in high school, I had lots of cassettes that were copies of vinyl. Not the best sound quality, but good enough.

      I've got an instrumental and a vocal commission from John Mierau that I'm going to work on soon. I also have a few older songs that I've never released that I'm thinking of releasing as an E.P. within the next month or so.

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  11. I do a bunch of different things. I prefer to have physical media because you can't autograph a download and all hard drives fail eventually. It's nice to buy a product and have something you can touch. But I have purchased from Amazon and Bandcamp. I used Amazon cloud to get the Pacific Rim soundtrack mentioned on the show. I've been a subscriber to Live365 for many years, but I mostly use it at work when I am caught up on my podcasts and don't feel like making a choice.

    I got a bunch of old filk tapes recently and I'm slowly converting them to MP3 format so I guess you can say I still use cassettes. And I've downloaded from the artist themselves. So I've done it all except iTunes because I won't have iCrap on my computer.

    Even though I prefer physical media, I can understand why some artists would prefer downloads. CDs can be expensive to make while selling a code to Bandcamp is cheap. If I liked an album that was sold online only, I'd still buy it.

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    1. Thanks for your input!

      I love that Pacific Rim soundtrack. I've been listening to James Newton Howard's HUNGER GAMES score recently, and I'm really digging it.

      Yeah, I didn't make CDs of my last full length album. To make 100 copies, it costs about $400. If I performed more frequently, I'd still press CDs, but at this point, I only play a few shows per year, so physical media isn't really worth it for me.

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  12. All my CDs are ripped to iTunes now. Generally I don't buy CDs anymore unless I can't find a particular album in mp3 format or on iTunes. It's a matter of space and convenience really; I listen to my own music collection only on my computer or my iPod now. I've also ripped all my vinyl or replaced it with CDs or mp3s by now.

    I haven't listened to the radio in nearly 20 years. Our local stations are too much talk, not enough music -- and when they do play music it's the same junk over and over again. I get the "radio experience" from Pandora One (the subscription version without ads). I tried Spotify but didn't like the UI; since then I've heard bad things about the way they treat their artists so I've stayed away.

    As for new music, I check NoiseTrade every day; I've found a LOT of great stuff there. I'd say at least three-fourths of my current music collection was picked up free either there or on Amazon. I use my "thumbs-up" list on Pandora as a sort of wishlist too, for either new stuff or old favorites I somehow don't have yet. I've really only just gotten used to the idea that you don't have to buy a whole album to get a song you like! Every now and then someone I follow on Twitter will recommend something on Bandcamp too. I love making a new discovery and then seeing that artist get more popular as the months or years go on.

    Thanks to a complete computer crash last Christmas, I still don't have my entire music collection in iTunes. I've been adding it back in little by little, as I've had bad experiences trying to add a large number of tracks in there at once. I have so much music now that I get to have the "oh, I haven't heard this one in a long time!" experience at least once a day.

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    1. Trina, I live in a small place, so I love not having to store CDs anymore.

      As much as I'm an evangelist for Spotify, I hate the UI too. It gets better with every update, but it still has a long way to go in my mind. I want iTunes like functionality, but with Spotify's catalog. No where near that yet.

      I've heard lots of good things about NoiseTrade, but have yet to try it.

      Thanks for the input!

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  13. I'm not an audiophile. Making my collection portable is the most important thing to me. I use iTunes for listening to my collection, which I ripped from CD. New music that I purchase, I try to get from Amazon because (if I understand correctly) Amazon is DRM-free, unlike iTunes. Also, I tend to find some good deals on Amazon. When on occasion I buy a physical CD, the first thing I do is rip it to MP3.

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    1. I was under the impression that iTunes has been DRM-free for a while now, though I might be mistaken.

      Hope all is well Kevin.

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  14. All depends on the artist. There are certain artists I'll go for the physical CD from, usually because I can get it with (a) bonus stuff and (b) ahead of the digital release - Arena, Blackmore's Night and Mediaeval Baebes fall into this category. For just about everything else, it's either Google Play or AmazonMP3 for the ease of getting the stuff onto my Android phone. I don't use iTunes because it's not available on Linux.

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    1. Yep, the bonuses seem to be the big reason to buy the physical CDs these days.

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  15. I buy Mp3s, songs and albums alike. I still haven't gotten on the streaming rush, mainly because I wouldn't be able to listen to it that way at work.

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  16. I hear Pirate Bay has mp3s and stuff, but I wouldn't know anything about that

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  17. I generally get my music through amazon or itunes, but I also get music from bandcamp as well.

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  18. I like owning my music. I use Spotify some at work if students want to hear a song I don't have (I often play music in my classroom), but I'm in love with my personal collection and I only want more. I used to want everything in physical form but I've let go of that part of it simply due to space restraints and the joys of having fewer things to dust. :-) Plus my Zune is just so freakin' convenient! It goes everywhere with me. I certainly do buy CDs when there's something extra though -- more tracks, signature, poster, booklet, whatever.

    I despise iTunes for several reasons and refuse to download it. I get most of my music from Amazon, DFTBA, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and directly from artists, and pick up the rest in random places here and there. On my laptop, I use mostly Windows Media Player (yes, yes, I know, and I agree, but at least it's not iTunes) and occasionally VLC for playing the music. I obsess over keeping everything accurately catalogued and organized and WMP does a pretty decent job of letting me do that so I'm cool with it.

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  19. I use Pandora. Once I got my stations picked out, I hardly ever have to skip a song. I love them all.

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  20. Learned about your music from an old Sword & Laser podcast; love it! I'm a Spotify guy when I want to listen to a specific artist and a Pandora when I just want mood music. I also still buy music, mostly classical bc I can't find the specific recordings on Spotify.

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