Spotify and SiriusXM

Being a lover of many types of music, I often listen on the internet in order to have access to a greater variety of music than what I own.  Also, I do a big band music show once a month on WBRH, a local public radio station, and I need to supplement my knowledge of that genre in order to present the variety that my listeners deserve.

There are a great many on-line music services to choose from, but my favorite is Spotify – a service that started in Sweden back in 2008.  It is now available in the U.S., and makes over 20 million selections available to its millions of listeners.  I particularly like two things about Spotify: it is free if you are willing to put up with occasional commercial breaks between tunes, and you can find and listen to entire albums rather than listening to an on-line radio station that plays a genre of music that you select – though you can do that too.

The commercials don’t bother me in the least in most cases since they come between tracks of an album.   However, most complete opera recordings are broken into acts with each act divided into several tracks.  In La Bohème, for instance, you find that Act 1 is normally broken into a dozen or so tracks.  While Spotify let the music flow seamlessly between tracks, it may also stop at the end of a track to deliver a commercial or two before resuming the music.  Now that’s irritating.  Symphonies are normally presented so that each movement takes up one track – regardless of how long it is – so Spotify only interrupts for commercials between movements.  If commercials bother you, you can pay a monthly rate to listen commercial free.  And, you have access to additional music, and to better sound quality (though I’m quite happy with the sound quality of the free version).

The variety of music on Spotify is stunning.  While looking for music for my radio show the other day, I put in the name “Jimmy Durante,” and got a long list of numbers that he recorded.  One of the numbers featured Durante playing the piano without singing.  I had no idea that he could play the piano so well or that he had ever recorded an instrumental album, but with one more click I had access to the entire album.  You may not care in the least about Jimmy Durante, but my listeners will be surprised and pleased to know that Durante was such a talented pianist.  If you search for music by your favorite entertainer you may be similarly rewarded.

Spotify also allows me to search based on a song title.  Putting in “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” brings up a huge number of recordings of that well-known song from My Fair Lady.  The artists who recorded it include Julie Andrews, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormet, Oscar Peterson, Ray Conniff, Shirley Horn, Rosanne Cash, Peter Sellers (yes, Peter Sellers doing a comedy routine based around that song), Coleman Hawkins, and Nat King Cole.  There are many more artists, but I’ll stop there.

I need to tell you two more things about Spotify.  First, when you initially use Spotify it downloads its own player.  So when you want to access it after that, you click on the Spotify icon rather than using your internet browser to reach it.  Second, you can enjoy Spotify on tablets and smart phones as well as your computer after you create an account.

You may have a SiriusXM radio in your car, but did you know that you can also access the great variety of entertainment that SiriusXM affords from your computer, tablet or smart phone?  In fact, I installed SiriusXM on my laptop and iPad long before I bought a car with a SiriusXM-capable radio.  If you get the internet package, you can put SiriusXM on all of your internet-accessible devices without paying a fee for each one.  I have been told that the monthly fee is negotiable, but I have not tested that idea yet.

SiriusXM has a wide variety of programming.  You can listen to almost any type of music you like (including rock, country, a Frank Sinatra and friends channel, a Billy Joel channel, and more), and enjoy many of the cable channels that you have on your TV as well.  There are sports channels, news and entertainment channels (including CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox, NPR, and even an old time radio channel), talk channels, and Latino channels.  Via the internet I get something called “40s on 4,” and another channel of movie music called “Cinemagic.”  These two channels are not available, as far as I can determine, through my car radio.  And if you love opera, as I do, you can listen to it 24/7 on the Metropolitan Opera channel.  There used to be a book channel, but they discontinued it a year or so ago.  That reminds me that SiriusXM occasionally changes the channel formats they offer – probably in an attempt to keep up with trends in the music business.

I’m not “selling” either Spotify or SiriusXM.  I just want you to know that they are available and that I think they are worth considering.  There are many music services available through the internet, and Time magazine compared many of them in an article earlier this year.

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