Best Comment Contest

How would you like to win a free copy of the Love Your Music eBook, a Spotify invite or $10 in credit on Amazon MP3?

The winner of my Best Comment contest will have their choice of one of those prizes. The way it works is simple. Just post a comment on this blog, the Love Your Music Facebook page, Tweet at Love Your Music, or otherwise comment on something I post or send me somthing interesting. I will collect the best comments over the next two weeks, post them on this blog and then pick the winning Best Comment in two weeks on Tuesday, September 13.

So, what kind of comments am I looking for?

  • Interesting comments about a blog post or link I share.
  • Tell me something I don't know. Share a new website or music app.
  • An interesting question.

A great place to start adding comments is my blog from yesterday, Spotify: Free + Social = Game Changer.

Good luck and thanks for your comments!

Spotify: Free + Social = Game Changer

Spotify is a revolutionary streaming music service, but not for the reason everyone thinks. Sure, having access to just about any song ever recorded is incredible and has prompted breathless, gushing, over-the-top reviews, but it's not at all unique. Services like Napster, Rhapsody and Zune have been providing on-demand, streaming music services to huge catalogs for nearly a decade.

No, I'm afraid that in terms of its music catalog it is incredibly ordinary. In fact, when I first used it, I found it fairly underwhelming compared to other services I use. On top of being not that impressive upon first use, it has many other deficiencies, but upon further review all of this is overcome by two huge factors that make Spotify something every music fan should try.

Spotify fits in the professional, on-demand streaming area of the streaming vs. download chart (see Love Your Music book excerpt on streaming vs. downloading which further explains the chart). Here's an updated version with Spotify on it:

Streaming vs. Downloading

Spotify occupies a rather small segment of the chart when compared to its main competitors, Napster, Rhapsody and Zune. Unlike those other services, it only offers streaming tracks, you can't download any of them as rentals or purchases. That means you can't take them with you on an MP3 player or listen to them unless you have an internet connection.

There are no music discovery features in Spotify. These other services have some form of recommender where you are given suggestions for new music you might like based on what you are currently listening to. Spotify doesn't offer any suggestions at all.

In Spotify you can't browse the music catalog. You have to search. So, for instance, you can't just start looking through tracks by release year or genre. No, instead you have to search for an artist, album or track title. That's fine if you know exactly what you want to listen to, but isn't good at all when you just want to look around.

That is quite a few negatives, but I still enthusiastically recommend Spotify because of its two best qualities:

  1. Free -- Spotify's free version offers nearly all the same features as the paid version with only a couple of limitations. You can only listen to 20 hours of music per month and you can only use it on a computer, not a smart phone. No other on-demand streaming service offers a completely free option
  2. Social -- Spotify has integration with Facebook which lets you easily share music and playlists with friends. It is also really easy to share playlists with anyone, Facebook friend or not, with just a link.

These two properties of Spotify make it ideally positioned to be the music service going forward. No other service has this combination. Free is a game changer because it means there is no reason for someone not to use it. If everyone can use it, then the social features become that much more attractive to use. I have had a Napster account about seven years. I have never shared a playlist with a friend using Napster because so few friends use it and I don't know which ones have it. Even at just $5/month (Napster, Rhapsody and Zune plans all start at about $5/month), most people won't pay for a subscription music service. Already in just a couple weeks with Spotify, I have played friends' playlists. There is no reason to resist sharing playlists now. Everyone can listen, everyone can share.

There are also a bunch of cool websites that have sprung up around the Spotify platform for sharing playlists. Users can share, rate, browse and listen to playlists through these third party sites. A quick search on Google for "Spotify playlists" reveals a page full of these playlist sharing websites. I have just scratched the surface of these sites, but it seems they are hugely helpful and do a good job of making up for the lack music discovery features in Spotify itself.

The only fly in the ointment now is that in order to use the free version of Spotify, you have to be invited. The invites are limited and must come from Spotify itself (you can request an invite here, but it takes a while to come through) or from a friend who has a premium Spotify account.

Luckily for you all, I have a premium account and I will continue to give away invites. I will announce another promo with more Spotify invites later this week.

For those of you who already have Spotify, how are you using it? Have you tried any of the Spotify playlist sharing sites? For those of you who haven't tried it yet, what would you do? How would you use it? How do you see it fitting in with your existing MP3 collection and other music services that you use?

Three More Spotify Invite Winners

The three winners of this week's Spotify invites are Lori Mann, TJ Winter and John Wilson. Thanks for liking Love Your Music on Facebook!

For those of you who have been following Love Your Music for a while, your chance to get a Spotify invite is coming. I will share more details this week.

 

Spotify Invite Winners

Thanks to those of you who liked Love Your Music on Facebook this week!

As promised, I gave three invites to Spotify to those who did the liking. The three winners of the Spotify invites are James Tingey, Mary Millner and Christina Brown.

Winners: I've already sent the invites. You should get them right away. Please let me know if there are any problems. I hope you enjoy Spotify. I would love to know what you think. Please message me after you've played with it for a while.

I will be giving away three more invites to Spotify this week. It will work the same as last week. Just like Love Your Music on Facebook for a chance to win.

 

"Like" Love Your Music on Facebook to be entered to win a free Spotify invite

Do you want to try Spotify?

For the next two weeks I will be giving away Spotify invites (see my Spotify roundup).

There are two ways that you can use Spotify yourself:

  1. Pay to use the premium version.
  2. Get an invite to use the free version.

You can request an invite on Spotify.com and wait a few weeks for your request to go through, or you can "like" Love Your Music on Facebook and be entered to win a spotify invite in just a few days.

I will be giving away three Spotify invites this week and three more next week. Everyone who likes Love Your Music on Facebook between now and August 29 will be automatically entered to win the invite. I will contact the first batch of winners next Tuesday, August 23 and the second batch of winners on Tuesday, August 30.

Good luck!

Link: Love Your Music on Facebook.

 

Spotify Roundup

Is Spotify an incredible new service that will revolutionize the music industry or just the same old stuff dressed up in a hip European package? After being available in Europe for the past few years (and hyped endlessly in the US), Spotify had its much-awaited launch in the US on July 14.

MSN Money, in an article breathlessly titled "Spotify: The future of music is here," describes the music service like this:

Spotify is a service that lets you listen to any song in the Spotify library -- anytime you want. It's kind of like iTunes: You can search for what you want, set up playlists, and sort by artist or album or genre. The difference is that instead of drawing only from your own music library, you have access to all of Spotify's 15 million song library. J.D. likens it to a musical version of Netflix streaming, only with less hassle and better selection.

Entertainment Weekly says "Spotify USA is real, and it's pretty spectacular"

Tom's Guide has a much more reasoned and less hyped review of Spotify.

What then does Spotify bring to the table that Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker Radio, Napster and other services don't offer? That's a good question.

I will post my full review in the next couple of weeks. In the mean time, if you would like to get a free Spotify account, check out the Love Your Music Facebook/Spotify promo.

Love Your Music eBook -- Now on Barnes & Noble's BN.com

I'm pleased to announce that Love Your Music - how to always listen to music you love by harnessing today's music technology is now available on Barnes & Nobles's BN.com.

Love Your Music eBook

In addition to the new Kindle version of the Love Your Music eBook I announced last week, there is also a new ePub-format version that is custom-formatted and laid out specifically for devices like Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader, Google Android devices and Apple iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad (see a complete list of ePub devices). If you don't have a Nook or other eReader, you can still buy it from BN.com and read it on your computer using ePub software software like Calibre.

One of the reviews on BN.com:

I acquired most of my music in the 90s, back when people first started using digital music. I had music in lots of different file formats and a lot of files with incomplete information (like missing artist name, genre, etc). As a result, it was hard to find the music I wanted to listen to. Love Your Music showed me how to clean up my music collection. Now I listen to what I want quickly and easily.

 

Check it out:

Love Your Music (ePub version) on BN.com

Love Your Music (Adobe Acrobat PDF version)

 

 

Playlists: the key to getting the most from your music collection

Thinking of playing music at your next party? How about making a mix for the gym? Tired of searching through your entire music library for your favorite songs? Most digital media software such as iTunes, Media Monkey, Windows Media Player, and other 3rd party programs allow users to create playlists. Playlists are a collection of tracks that can be played in your media player or PMP that allow you to quickly and easily select the music you want to hear. Playlists are also a great way to gather and listen to music that suits a particular mood or occasion.  But before crafting your next 80s throwback mix, it's important to understand the two types of playlists: manual and auto.

Note: The following is an excerpt from The Love Your Music eBook -- guaranteed to contain “everything you ever wanted to know about digital music” or your money back.

Manual playlists can be created in your media player software by dragging and dropping your tracks from your library into a playlist. This works fine if you know exactly which tracks you want to listen to. Unfortunately, you have to tediously find each track among the thousands you may have in your library when you create a manual playlist.
 
Auto playlists remove the tedium of creating playlists by using metadata criteria to filter the tracks in your library.  As auto playlists, large playlists can be created in seconds rather than minutes or hours as manual playlists. However, auto playlists have flaws of their own. With auto playlists you sacrifice the minute control you have over the list of songs as compared to manual playlists. This can be rectified by spending time and effort to get good metadata onto your tracks.  Overtime this will increase an auto playlists’ ability to get the right music for the right situation.

 

Manual vs. auto playlists

Manual and auto playlists both have their uses and I regularly create both types of playlists.
Some media players only have "normal" or "manual" playlists. Others have "auto" or "smart" playlists.

So, what's the difference between manual playlists and auto playlists?

Manual playlists…

  • ...are an ordered list of tracks
  • ...have a set order (set by you), but you can randomize the order in which tracks are played.
  • ...can have any tracks from your collection.
  • ...offer the most ability to customize a playlist.
  • ...are not criteria driven and do not have tracks automatically added and removed from them based on criteria.
  • ...are created by gathering individual tracks and putting them into a list, typically by dragging and dropping them from the library onto a playlist.

Auto playlists…

  • ...are criteria-driven. The contents of an auto playlist are based on the metadata filters that you apply while creating the playlist. The only tracks that appear in the auto playlist meet all of the criteria that you provide. No exceptions.
  • ...are defined by their criteria. What you see on the screen when you look at an auto playlist are the results of filtering your collection by the auto playlist‘s criteria. The software only stores the criteria and generates the result when the auto playlist is viewed.
  • ...automatically update their contents when tracks' metadata change. For example, if you have a playlist that is all of your four-star-and-up tracks, this playlist will automatically add new tracks that are rated four stars and up when you add a new track or change an existing track‘s metadata.
  • ...cannot have arbitrary tracks removed from them. For example, if my auto playlist contains a song that I don‘t want, there is no way to just delete that song from this auto playlist like I can in a manual playlist. I would have to change the auto playlist‘s criteria to exclude the song instead.
  • ...have no set order and cannot be ordered as exactly as manual playlists.
  • ...are created by specifying the playlist‘s criteria to the media player and then having the media player show the results as a playlist.

 

How to use auto and manual playlists

I use auto playlists for certain categories of music that I expect to change and evolve. For example, I have playlists for:

  • Favorite rock
    • Genre = rock, rock & roll, etc
    • Rated four stars and up
  • Favorite indie and alternative
    • Genre = alternative, alternative rock, indie pop, indie rock, etc,
    • Rated four stars and up
  • Favorite new music
    • Acquired in last six months
    • Rated four stars and up
  • Favorite 80s
    • Release year = 1980 – 1989
    • Rated four stars and up
  • Favorite background
    • Occasion = background
    • Rated four stars and up
  • Need to rate
    • No rating

The "favorite rock" and "favorite indie and alternative" auto playlists will continue to change and evolve as I acquire more rock, indie and alternative music. The "favorite new music" will always contain my newest, highly-rated music, ensuring that I can always be able to listen to my favorite new music. The "need to rate" list will always show me the tracks that are unrated and, thus, need to be rated. If I had made manual playlists of these tracks, they would not change and evolve and would not be nearly as useful.

On the other hand, I mostly use manual playlists for one time events like birthdays, New Year's Eve parties and other special events. I often start with an auto playlist, copy its tracks to a new manual playlist and then edit that playlist. I work on the playlist's order. I add and remove tracks until I get it right. For example, I often start with my favorite dance playlist (occasion = dance, rated four stars and up) and then tweak it for the particular occasion. For family parties I'll have more music from the 50s, 60s and 70s so that all generations feel included. For parties with friends I'll throw in some of our groups' favorites. Then I save the playlist with a descriptive name like "New Year's Eve 2010."

In summary, manual playlists are best for situations where you want exact control over the content and order of a playlist and never want it to change. Auto playlists are best for situations where you want a playlist to grow and evolve over time and the order doesn't matter. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and provide great ways for you to get the most from your music collection.

Love Your Music -- Now on Amazon.com

Love Your Music - how to always listen to music you love by harnessing today's music technology is now available on Amazon.com!

Love Your Music eBook

This new version is custom-formatted and laid out specifically for the Kindle. If you have a Kindle, this will look nice. If you don't have a Kindle, you can still buy it from Amazon and read it on your computer using Amazon's Kindle software.

One of the reviews on Amazon.com:

For listeners who are just getting into digital media and want a jump start, or those who are casually acquainted with digital music, this book offers insight on perhaps the most important desire listeners might have: getting the most out of their music!

 

Check it out:

Love Your Music (Kindle version) on Amazon.com

Love Your Music (Adobe Acrobat PDF version)

 

 

Love Your Music's new cover and a new, lower price

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in this case, I hope you do. Thanks to a wonderful photo I found from an artist online and a little bit of design and layout work, the Love Your Music - how to always listen to music you love by harnessing today's music technology has a slick new cover. I think it really conveys the technology-meets-fun ideas I have tried to convey in print.

Love Your Music eBook

Along with the refreshed cover, comes a new, lower price. I want to price the book to move, so we've lowered the price from $19.95 to $9.99. There is no better time to get the book that one reviewer says

"...makes the daunting task of organizing digital music digestible to even the most non-computer-savvy of people. Love Your Music lays out how a wallflower can take control of their music and become a dance commander. Best of all, it's fun to read."

To find out more or buy a copy, check out the Love Your Music eBook website.

 

 

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