By: Rebecca Pierce
The music scene is rapidly changing. It’s never going to stop; it’s never going to go in reverse.
Long gone are the days when people were willing to spend $20 on an album full of songs they
hate, in order to be able to listen to that one song they love. Music downloading programs
like Napster, LimeWire, Kazaa, etc. introduced the American public to the concept of readily
available free music, as well as the idea of being able to listen to just bits and pieces of artists’
music, broadening the population’s taste in music significantly. Even though many programs like
Napster have been deemed “illegal,” and have been shut down, the idea of a variety of readily
available free music has been hard to shake for most people. iTunes by Apple tried to help us out
by allowing us to purchase songs individually. The concept is perfect for certain music listeners:
the music listeners that know what music they like and only need a small music library to satisfy
them. However, iTunes doesn’t really work for the music obsessed, those who are constantly
looking for new and innovative tracks. Using iTunes would get pretty pricey if the music
obsessed bought every song they listened to. So, what are the music-obsessed people supposed to
Pandora and Spotify are two awesome alternatives to iTunes that have developed in recent years.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know what Pandora is; however, I’ll
explain what Pandora is just in case. Pandora is a free music listening site where the user creates
what is technically a “radio” station. The station created is based off a specific artist or song
the user likes. The station created will play songs similar to the artist or song selected. The user
can “like” or “dislike” songs in order for Pandora to understand specifically what the listener
likes to hear in their music.
Spotify is newer to the music listening market. Spotify was founded in 2008 by a Swedish
company, Spotify AB, and the company is defined as, “a music streaming service.” Spotify is a
service you can use through Facebook, either directly or by downloading the Spotify program
onto your computer and logging on through your Facebook login information. The difference
between Spotify and Pandora is that Spotify allows the listener to search for songs and create
a library of music that can be constantly revisited by the listener. Users of Spotify can listen to
their favorite song over and over again, while Pandora does not allow users to select or repeat
specific songs. Spotify also has the option of creating radio stations based off a favorite artist or
song. Because Spotify can be utilized through Facebook, it is more of a social media platform.
Spotify allows friends on Facebook to share music playlists with each other. Now, if you’re not
familiar with Spotify, I’m sure you’re wondering, why is all this free?
The answer is simple: advertising. Pandora has timed intervals where a different ad is played at each interval. Pandora also sometimes has a sponsor that pays to promote all over the background of the Pandora website. Spotify advertising is similar. An audio ad will play at
timed intervals after a certain amount of listening has occurred. There are also banner ads along the side of playlists, and if you are inactive on Spotify for a while (as in you haven’t clicked in Spotify in a while), but you are still listening to music, pop up (strictly digital visual) ads will
take over the screen of Spotify until the listener clicks in Spotify again. If users of Pandora and Spotify want to experience ad-free music listening, users can pay either a monthly or annual subscription fee.
I personally love both services. I use Pandora to find new random music, and when I am not in
the mood to select the music I am listening to. If I find a song I love on Pandora (or from some
other place), I’ll search for it on Spotify and add it to one of my playlists. In general though, I
now prefer Spotify. I like that you can create playlists that you can listen to as often as you like.
I also feel like the ads are somehow less annoying than the ones on Pandora. I think Spotify has
more strategically placed their ads and that the interval of time between ads is better. I believe
Spotify is a progressive step towards a new future for music listeners, as well as for advertisers.
I am definitely on board for more services like this, speaking as a music-obsessed individual and
as a future advertising professional!