C O L U M N S
Tales from the Jugular
Amazon Music vs Spotify
The days of headbangers special ordering music internationally and waiting for days on end is over...and has been for some time now. While torrents and YouTube uploads have been making music an endless buffet, some of us still want to support artists legally. While the profit margin is slim and almost non-existent, streaming services like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Tidal, Spotify and Amazon Music allow artists to present their art while still retaining some form of monetary gain. Think of Netflix for music.
While many sites offer streaming of demos, specific songs and even pay-per-download choices, two kings have emerged in this Digital Wasteland - AMAZON'S PRIME MUSIC and SPOTIFY.
Two of Maximum Metal's scribes are paying subscribers to these streaming services. Troy Cole has been a happy paying customer of Spotify for over a year now. Eric Compton has enjoyed one month of Amazon Prime thus far, which features a subscription to Prime Music (Editor's Note - Eric has really been a paid Amazon Prime subscriber for over a year but was too stupid to realize he had access to Prime Music). While many people wouldn't disagree with the fact that SPOTIFY offers more selection and more content than Prime Music, Maximum Metal wants to drill down and look at specific differences between the two and how they relate to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. Eric has Prime Music in his corner while Troy has Spotify.
*** Note there are seven heavy metal Easter egg throughout this article. Answers are at the very bottom.
COST - The Highway to Sell
Obviously the first thing we want to look at is cost. The majority of headbangers arguably are the working class blue collars who save hard earned dough for concerts, concert t-shirts and concert beer. They may lay down cabbage for that rare Dio picture disc BUT those lining up every week to buy that Friday's batch of releases is few and far between. Let's take a look at revolving fees here:
PRIME MUSIC is $99 per year or $10.99 per month. The first 30 days of the annual subscription are free and you can cancel at any time. Amazon Prime is essentially what you are paying for but that includes Prime Music. You will receive a whole lot of perks with your Prime membership, which we will get into later. If you are a student and have an .edu email address you will pay half the regular cost - $49 per year.
SPOTIFY has three plans available. The most comparable to Prime is the premium plan which is $9.99 a month and can be cancelled at any time. Premium subscribers can also add family members at 50% off each extra account. Tons of music related perks await with your subscription which will be highlighted below. You can also sign-up for a free 30-day trail of premium or use Spotify free in similar manner as Pandora but the latter is restricted to mobile devices only. Students can receive 50% with a valid email netting the cost to $4.99 per month.
DEVICES - One Vice At a Time?
Your bank account is now hooked to a streaming service and each month is a financial menstrual cycle. You're bleeding...but are you really using the service? Do you find yourself chained to your PC waiting for the next track or gingerly frolicking through the park to the steady stream of Death Angel?
PRIME MUSIC will stream on just about any device. Some of the more common ones are PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Fire Tablets and Android's gambit of phones and tablets. Other Amazon devices like Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Echo and the Fire phone will also run the apps. If push comes to shove you can even run it just by launching the Amazon website and logging into your account. You can authorize up to ten devices to run Prime Music's app. Unfortunately, a subscriber can't stream Prime Music simultaneously on two different devices.
SPOTIFY streams on the same devices as Prime and is even being integrated into car dash apps, video game systems and Chromecast. Another similarity here is only being able to use the service on one device at a time but the previously mentioned price break does help for multiple accounts. Spotify now has a feature notifying you which device is using the account currently before taking over someone else's stream. This feature also gives you the ability of redirecting your stream to another device.
OFFLINE, ONLINE and CLOUDS - The Memory Remains?
PRIME MUSIC has a bit of a learning curve when it comes to its library functionality. You are essentially running three different libraries. The first and foremost is Prime Music's entire catalog. That is the main library from which to navigate for content. Next is the subscriber's Cloud Library. This is where you have made Playlists and added albums and artists. Keep in mind this is just lists. The songs and albums aren't stored here, this is just Prime Music content that you have flagged and organized to play at an easier convenience than just randomly searching for things in the Prime Music catalog. Third is the Offline Library. Prime Music shines with what amounts to be an unlimited amount of downloading. You want Prime Music's back catalog of Slayer (5 albums) to play on bus and train rides WITHOUT using your device's data plan? Simple, just select download (a downward white arrow beside every song in Prime Music) and the song will download to your device. Keep in mind this will use device space, but you can select which quality you want from low, medium and high to determine the amount of space to utilize.
SPOTIFY runs similar to iTunes with little learning curve. Everything is available through the powerful search engine. One search displays top results followed by a breakdown of artists, songs, albums, and playlists. You can create public or private playlists that link to online music or even files stored locally on your device. Everything on Spotify can be downloaded to your devices storage to avoid data usage with the only limit being the amount of free space available.
CONTENT - Operation Findtime
PRIME MUSIC has "more than a million songs" as their official disclosure. How many tracks that they really offer is hard to answer and how much time you'll have to browse millions of songs is an even bigger question. Regardless, compared to Spotify, Rhapsody or Spotify...Prime Music gets baked. You will find over 30 million songs housed at those other services, but Amazon makes up for it by offering you additional goodies that the others can't. The highlights of the Prime membership is Free Two-Day Shipping on eligible goods in the Amazon store. That also nets you some sweet "members only" deals outside of the normal store sales. You gain unlimited photo storage in Amazon's Cloud Drive, one new book for free each month in the Kindle library and the ultimate prize - Prime Video! Just like Netflix, Prime Video runs an app on most devices including TVs and bluray players. Not only can you find older TV shows and movies, Prime Video offers new release movies and their own original content. Check out awesome original shows like 'Red Oaks' and 'Mad Dogs'! That compares to a Netflix subscription of $7.99 per month. With that being said...I'd still sacrifice the entire series of "L.A. Cops" for more headbang for my buck.
SPOTIFY sports the tagline "Music for everyone". The music is limitless and truly for everyone from Top 50 hits to the most obscure new Viking Pagan Melodic Gore Synth band from Norway. While Spotify doesn't offer free shipping on the latest Batman graphic novel you've desperately been seeking, it does offer tons of music centric content not available through Prime. Spotify learns about your music tastes and creates a new weekly playlist called "Discover Weekly" which is based on your listening to help you discover new or forgotten tunes. There are all kinds of radio shows are strictly just music while some are hosted. My favorite is "Metal Talks" which features an interview with a band along with music from that band and its influences. Every band has an artist page that gives a nice overview of the content available plus their most frequently played songs, a bio, related artists and merchandise. You can follow any artist to get updates of new releases or new content they have available. There is also a nice social feature where you can follow friends to see what they are listening to and you can even share playlists with them. Playlists can also be made public for anyone to follow and share. Websites and artists usually have some created for you to follow whether it be 2015's heaviest songs as compiled by Maximum Metal or Jesper Stromblad's favorite Tom Petty tracks. Dollar for dollar Spotify is where the music is at.
NEW RELEASES - Look What the App Dragged In
Friday is in the term "Thank God It's Friday" for a reason. It's the end of the work week for some and in 2015 Fridays got even better. Longtime "New Release Tuesday" shifted to "New Music Fridays" in an effort to battle online piracy. Each Friday digital music is released in droves with singles, albums, EPs and videos stirring up an online media buzz storm. But with that many choices...how much of it is accessible right away and how much is metal and rock related?
We took the five Fridays of April, 2016 and checked both Prime Music and Spotify for notable metal and rock releases:
Clearly in terms of new releases and overall content, Spotify rules the Earth. But comparing dollar for dollar, Amazon does provide quite a bit with their low price of $99 a year. If you are a music fan and really need plenty of exploration and experimentation then Spotify is truly the best deal (and probably your best friend at work). Considering half the US population are already subscribing to Amazon Prime, you have to scratch your head and wonder if the extra $7.99 to Spotify is truly worth it. With a million songs already at your disposal to delve into and explore, how much more do we really need?
No matter which service you select the end result is new bands, music and genres are literally at your fingertip. It's an untapped power like nothing humanity has ever seen before. Music is everywhere. It's flowing into social media and digital technology creating rivers, lakes and oceans of art.
Where will the current take you?
*** Easter Eggs: 1. Who's Got the Volbeat? --Danish band Volbeat 2. The Highway to Sell -- AC/DC album "Highway to Hell" 3. One Vice at a Time -- Krokus album of the same name from 1982 4. The Memory Remains? -- Metallica song "The Memory Remains" 5. Operation Findtime -- Queensryche album "Operation: mindcrime" 6. Look What the App Dragged In --Poison album "Look What the Cat Dragged In" 7. Who's the Last in Line? -- Dio album "The Last in Line"
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