Comparison of music services

Neil Devas, Contributing Writer

With the recent release of iTunes Radio, Apple has attempted to extend their influence into the Internet radio ring.  The tech powerhouse is putting the software up against several established competitors like Spotify and Pandora.   Each radio service uses their unique set of algorithms to try to match the music that they play to the music their audience wants to listen to, but which service does it most accurately?

Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes Radio specialize in providing music tailored to each listener, taking into account artists, genres, song history, and key tonality, among other attributes.

Pandora is widely viewed as the pioneer of the group, having launched in January of 2000.  On Pandora, users can search for artists, albums or genres, or pick from pre-existing stations.

Despite its early start, Pandora has the least amount of music on their service compared to the two others.  Their one million songs looking insignificant when put up against Spotify’s twenty million.  The limited music selection is only the tip of the iceberg.  The playlist feature is flawed.  For instance, users can neither search for songs nor repeat or rewind songs that they like.  However, Pandora is looking to expand their audience with their new alarm-clock feature.

iTunes Radio, introduced in September as part of Apple’s iOS 7, is extremely similar to Pandora, with the addition of a few Apple-related features.  iTunes Radio takes into account users’ download/purchase history from iTunes and creates playlists based on those tracks.  In addition, while listening to playlists, users can create playlists based on the song or artist to which they are listening.

However, iTunes shares a group of flaws with Pandora: listeners are both limited to the songs already provided for them in the playlist, as well, the amount of songs he or she is allowed to skip.

Although Pandora offers a lesser-known paid service (Pandora One), which removes advertisements and gives a limitless amount of skips, Spotify’s paid service (Premium) allows the users to browse and play any of their 20 million songs.

This paid service contains music from nearly every genre.  Listeners can search for specific songs, artists, and albums, receive suggested music based on song history, and listen to any song as many times as they would like.  They also create an extreme variety of genre-specific playlists, in addition to their non genre-based playlists like “Power Workout,” “Intense Studying,” or “Sunday Stroll.” In addition, Spotify’s partnership with Facebook, allows users to share music with their friends.

Spotify Premium clearly sets it aside from its competitors.  Diverging from the radio-station format that Pandora and iTunes Radio are based on, Spotify is designed not only for listening to music, but also for finding music.  For example, searching for a specific artist gives users all of the albums and songs produced by that artist, which are all available for listening.

Despite the fact that it requires a monthly payment, all of Spotify’s on-demand features make it the easiest and most enjoyable music streaming service of the three.  The web company is geared toward the individual and makes searching for music hassle-free.  However, users looking for a simple, radio-station style service will be satisfied with what Pandora and iTunes Radio have to offer.