The manner in which we listen to music is changing at a lightning fast pace. The dawn of the smartphone age and the arrival of the Samsung GALAXY Note II have heralded huge shifts. And not just from popping on CDs to listening to MP3s.
No, this is the age of the streaming service. What with the advent of Spotify in 2008, followed by its superb Android app, streaming became the easy way to access millions of songs for free on an ad-supported model, or for a small monthly fee.
And already, rivals from the likes of Rdio, Deezer and big names including Google, are looking to disrupt the space. So, where is mobile music heading?
Spotify continues to lead the way in mobile music thanks to a great app which breezily syncs desktop playlists with your GALAXY Note II. The app looks spectacular on the phone’s generous display and it’s loaded with social functions too. That means you can easily share tracks via Facebook, Twitter and email.
There’s a rather splendid recommendation engine too, which means you can find and listen to bands that sound similar to those you’ve got playlisted.
The app itself is free, but to access Spotify on-the-move you need to have a Premium membership, which comes in at £9.99 a month (there’s free 30-day trial to give you a taster). For access to all those tunes it has to be worth it.
Thanks to Google Android, the GALAXY Note II can take advantage of a very different, not to mention free, music streaming service: Google’s own Play Music platform.
While Spotify is all about firing up old any track that crosses your mind, Play Music is focused on playing tunes that you own, over the cloud. Initially, that requires you to upload your library to Google’s servers.
Fear not, though, as Google offers room for up to 20,000 songs without charging you a penny. From there it’s simply a case of loading up the Play Music app on your phone and playing tunes from your personal collection while you’re out-and-about. Music you buy from Google’s Play Store will automatically sync with your Play Music library too.
Google Play Music also hooks into Last.fm, which means you can scrobble tracks you’re listening too on your device to help build and fine-tune your Last.fm profile.
Alternatively, you can snag the Last.fm app for your GALAXY Note II for free and use it to listen to web radio directly.
The whole concept of radio streaming is becoming big business right now, with Spotify offering a radio package based on tunes you have in your library. Both that and Last.fm offer a great way to discover heaps of new music.
Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments in mobile music at the moment is the recent arrival of Rdio. A huge success in the United States, this service is similar in its breadth and ambition to Spotify. The emphasis here is on accessing millions of tunes and albums rather than using a radio service or streaming your own tunes via the cloud.
Like Spotify, it costs £9.99 a month to use Rdio’s mobile package, but its Android app looks the part on the GALAXY Note II and is (whisper it!) perhaps a bit more intuitive and ever-so-slightly snappier than its Swedish rival.
If neither Spotify or Rdio appeal, but you still want a paid for streaming package, there are alternatives. French service Deezer is becoming increasingly popular and has one small advantage over Rdio: a 15-day free trial of its mobile app.
That should whet your appetite for snagging as much music as you can muster before handing them £9.99 a month for the privilege of accessing their vast database.
Like Spotify and Rdio, there’s the option to sync tracks for offline use, so you can listen to them on your Note II without a web or mobile connection.
Of course, other big players also have streaming services if going with a smaller name isn’t your thing. Amazon’s Cloud Player works in much the same way as Google Play Music, with tracks bought from the retailer’s MP3 store, and those you’ve already stashed there from your PC’s library, available to stream wherever and whenever.
It’s all done from the free Amazon MP3 app and means you can keep local space free on your Note II for any other add-ons you fancy downloading.
While all these packages are great right now, the mobile music scene is moving along so quickly that there’s plenty of exciting new offerings to look forward to.
Google is said to be priming its own Spotify-style streaming service, which would certainly tie-in nicely with all Android phones and look spot-on on the GALAXY Note II.
Plus, key rival Apple is also said to be readying its own package, dubbed iRadio, this summer, with industry insiders recently intimating that deals with the major labels are edging ever closer to fruition.
Finally, Spotify is also said to be in negotiations to offer at least part of its Premium mobile offering for free. That would mean users currently on their ad-supported, desktop-only package could download the Spotify app and perhaps grab a select number of tunes on-the-go.
The obvious money-spinning idea here is to get more people handing over cash for a Premium subscription, but the suggestion of free streaming like this is pretty exciting for any hardcore music fan living on a shoestring.
What is clear is that when you have a GALAXY Note II, the streaming options are myriad. You can access services to stream millions of new tunes, listen to your own collection without fronting up any more cash for apps or new music or simply check out web radio and broaden your musical mind.
More excitingly, this is the future of the entire music industry. That means more developments coming your way soon and plenty of choice when it comes to deciding which service gets some of your much-coveted mobile storage space.