Move over Spotify; Subsonic is the King of streaming for me
Not so long ago, I was forced to break the rules online, in order to stream music, legally, as ironic as that may sound. I’m talking about my use of Pandora, and the plethora of other online music services that sprung up over the years. I would spoof my IP address (the location where I really was) in order to appear as if I was on the East Coast of the States, or in Sweden, or wherever the service I was using was based. All of this hassle was just to keep afloat with new music, and to be able to listen to it on-demand, relatively speaking. It was something that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people did on a regular basis so that they could access legal music services; services that were not actually available in their home nation, even though it was perfectly legitimate. I am certain that millions more could have gone out and downloaded the album in a fraction of the time, but I didn’t want to journey down that road. Those days of pretending to be an American citizen came to an end last year. Spotify came to our shores, and all became well.
As a Facebook user, you would start to witness what your friends were listening to, via the news feed, and you could start to see (or listen to) what tracks that they were digging at the time. These notifications became more frequent as more and more Irish users began to fall in love with the service. As I did. As I still do. I think that Spotify is one of the best music discovery products that has ever come to be on the internet, an example of how new technology and music can get along well in a era of piracy. However, it is still not without competition: Rdio, one of the other streaming services, launched a week ago in Europe, and many similar services are no doubt going to have a crack at the market in the coming months. But as much as they are brilliant, they just don’t do it for me anymore. This is ever since I met Subsonic.
Subsonic is a music streaming platform, but instead of allowing you to access music from their library, it enables you to stream the music you have on your laptop, or iTunes, to a mobile device, or wherever you are. As a smartphone user, on an unlimited data plan, this suits me perfectly. I can get my hands on whatever music I want, from my collection of thousands, in real-time. It doesn’t take up space on my phone, it is instantly updated with whatever CD I rip into it (or whatever songs I buy from Bandcamp, etc.), and most of all, it is free: Subsonic is completely open-source. All the program needs is to connect to the internet so that it can push the tracks to your mobile phone, or wherever you are playing it from.
The reason I have started to use the product more frequently is because of the frustration I have experienced with streaming to my mobile. I would gladly pay for a service if it offered me an all-in package at a set price, but none of them do. Spotify requires a premium account, with a €5 add-on, as do Rdio and Deezer. Even Grooveshark, the cheapest provider to offer an ‘all in’ version, is plagued by copyright issues. My home-brewed system delivers me my own music without any restrictions or cost. Another bonus is that I actually own the music: streaming users will never actually get their hands on the tunes- so in five years time, unless they still have an account, they cannot go back to have a listen. My collection is my own, and the songs I buy are the songs I will have forever. I would prefer to buy the tracks as normal, at a higher price, in order to retain ownership. And as for the associated costs; there are none. My broadband is unlimited, as is my mobile data, so it is not as if I am buying into a package each month to give the tracks to me. Take that, Spotify.
In the end, it does come down to a matter of preference. I know that this solution is not for everyone, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t pop back to the paid-for services on a semi-regular basis to get a taste of the latest and greatest releases (this time ad-supported), but for a regular listening experience, Subsonic is the one for me I am just sharing my love between a few, rather than sticking with one only.
It is like the whole on-demand television bit: I’m not ditching the cable completely, I’m just getting the best of both worlds.