The Evolution of Online Music Consumption

There is nothing like struggling to peel off the sticker that holds a CD case together before opening up the case and gently taking that shiny piece of plastic and placing it in a music player. Unfortunately, this is a dying experience as online music availability is the habit that most of us have conditioned ourselves to listen to music.

Recently I’ve noticed that my consumption of online music has evolved to a new service. Looking back I thought about all of the ways that we have consumed music online. Many people my age remember Napster and how this totally changed they way we thought about listening to music. From Napster there were numerous other “peer-to-peer” services that came and went. I remember the magazine and news stories on how P2P file sharing will kill the music industry.

Then, iTunes arrived from Apple. Only problem was I wasn’t an Apple product user so it really never caught on with myself, but the millions of current Apple product owners could enjoy access to music and not only a whole album, but buying only the 1 song they loved for $0.99. Now that caught my attention!

I bought my first Apple products back in 2008 or so and instantly understood why iTunes was so powerful. I began to dust off my old CD collection, rip as many CD’s that I could, and place the hundreds of CD’s that I spent my first hard earned money on as a young man. I didn’t really ‘purchase’ albums or songs from iTunes, I still wanted to buy the actual CD’s and rip them into my library.

Low and behold around 2009 I had an opportunity to meet a pair of fellows (to this day I don’t know their names) but they said they were part of this new online music service called Pandora. It was a free service that allowed me to type in a playlist and Pandora would instantly being to stream to me the music that it thought would interest me and I could approve or disapprove of songs and at one point I would have the ultimate playlist streamed.

What an awesome idea!

Instantly I joined and told all of my friends to do so as well. I immediately decided to purchase the annual plan as it was only $25 per year! It was a no-brainer!

Pandora was my default music experience. I wasn’t listening to my CD’s. I wasn’t playing songs via iTunes. Pandora was on my computer, phone, TV, everywhere!

Then in 2011 a new service began to make buzz. A highly popular music service from Europe that was a “Social Music” experience that integrated directly with Facebook and other social channels. When Spotify launched in the US, all of my friends online were hyping it up as the perfect blend of all of these past services together (Napster, iTunes, Pandora).

I never did like Spotify. It was too intrusive. I didn’t want everyone knowing what music I was listening to all the time.  I quickly went back to Pandora because it was something I knew and it was accessible almost everywhere.


Then in mid-2012 I don’t remember how or where, but I was exposed to a “newer” music experience. By now, I just wanted to stick with Pandora but I thought I’d give Songza a try. Songza I believe did what all of these other services were trying to do. It was the evolution of online music consumption.

It was free. It knew what I wanted to listen to. Not only that, it came with a “Concierge”. I just selected the mood I was in and it began to stream the music that I would like. I could approve and/or disapprove. I could share on my social network, I could create my own playlists. Music consumption made sense.

I have to admit. Songza is now my default online music experience. Now the only thing missing is having it go beyond web and mobile and on TV’s, cars, and where ever I am. I am a fan. Music has evolved.

Tomorrow I don’t know what other service will replace Songza or what else is missing on how to experience music. One thing is clear. Online music consumption evolves and it’s great for us. The listeners.

There still is something missing. I still miss struggling with the sticker that holds the CD case together.

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