Instead of shopping around for a streaming service that will ultimately disappoint you, why not cut out the middleman and start using a music library you actually own? Advantages such as uninterrupted music, increased portability, and increased longevity of the hardware you actually use make it worth the cost of a few albums.
Image credit: Aaron Yoo/Flickr
Remember loyalty? Spotify doesn't. A couple of months ago, the company's previously-announced update to its Spotify Connect platform unfortunately terminated the streaming service's functionality on a variety of speakers ostensibly advertised as Spotify-connected devices. Some of them (from companies such as Onkyo and Denon) were very expensive Spotify-connected devices. What does that mean for you? Well, if you own a speaker not scheduled to receive any updates fixing the disconnect, according to The Verge, you'll have to find a new way to get audio out of it. Here's why you should just buy your music this time around.
Your Music Library Doesn't Care About Licensing
Want to listen to Jay-Z's latest album, 4:44? Got a hankerin' for some Lemonade? Well you're out of luck if you're subscribed to any streaming service besides Tidal. Fans of Taylor Swift might remember when the wearer of beautiful gowns removed her own discography from Spotify.
Spotify's algorithm-generated playlists try, but they don't always hit the mark. If you want to mess with the recipe a bit, try out Nelson, the Spotify playlist generator that lets you customise what shows up on your playlist based on the kind of music (or musical elements) you enjoy.
That fragmentation, prohibiting you from listening to the music promised to you by companies such as Spotify, is the most frustrating aspect of the music streaming landscape. To get (almost) every song you want to hear, you might be frustrated enough to sign up for two subscription services and bounce between them. Of course, if you purchase your music outright, it doesn't matter what device, app or smartphone you own: You can still listen to your album.
Avoiding Closed Services Prevents Headaches
While the majority of those speakers affected by the Spotify update do indeed have auxiliary inputs that you can use to connect your phone or a Google Cast device to, that's probably not why you bought it. If you spent the suggested $8995 on the now Spotify-free B&O BeoSound 5, a deciding factor was probably its ability to both stream music and do it without your smartphone.
Instead of being dependent on a particular streaming company and its support of your particular speaker, you can build a network-accessible library that works with nearly any speaker that supports standards like DLNA used by a variety of manufacturers for streaming content. You can easily build your own music (and movie) server in your home using a network attached storage device and a hard drive. Some routers with USB inputs also support iTunes media servers stored on connected external hard drives.
You Can Take Your Music Offline
One of the more annoying drawbacks of streaming music is the actual streaming portion, which is useless if your commute involves internet-free stretches of train tunnel. That has led to more than one song ending mid-refrain, or silence filling my earbuds when I was expecting the dulcet tones of Jaden Smith. Instead, storing music locally means no interruptions, no matter your reception. Spotify and other music services do have offline functionality, and will download songs to your smartphone, but only when explicitly instructed.
Or You Can Put Them Online
If you still want an easy way to stream your music to devices that don't support the streaming of local files, or you have to attach a few Cast-friendly dongles to your hobbled speakers, you can sign up for a music streaming service that caters to those with their own libraries. Google Play Music allows you to upload up to 50,000 songs to your personal music library, letting you listen to your songs using Google Play Music and stream them to Google Cast devices. You'll have access to an entire streaming library in addition to the songs you pirated purchased. If you're an Apple fan, you can use Apple's AirPlay functionality to stream your local music (or Apple Music service) from iTunes or your iOS device to AirPlay-compatible speakers, or an AirPlay receiver.
You Don't Have to Do It All At Once
By all means, keep your streaming music service for now. After all, there's a lot of new music available, and you don't necessarily want to to shell out cash for every single track you decide to listen to from the comfort of your home. But you sure can save a few bucks by opting for a free, ad-supported version and putting that cash toward the purchase of new music. It won't be cheap, and that $11.99 per month you'd be paying for a streaming service adds up to basically an album per month, but it's worth it in the long run, especially when you know you'll never need to replace your speaker costing thousands of dollars because some developer decided to kill its functionality via software update.