As someone who spends most of his day on the computer, I need to do everything I can to keep myself entertained. Sometimes, that manifests itself in games and other times I find entertainment on the Web through online music services.
For years, I used Pandora, the song-discovery service powered by the Music Genome Project, and loved every minute of it. But over the past couple months, things have changed and I've quickly started to dedicate all my music time to MySpace Music.
The reasons why are numerous, but I should first note that I've got some issue with the service. First off, it's inundated with ads, and no matter where you go, you can bet that any MySpace Music page will be flanked by blinking advertisements or other unwelcome additions that detract somewhat from an otherwise outstanding service.
I should also mention that MySpace Music doesn't allow its users to share playlists, which is a bit annoying. You also can't have it "on-the-go" nearly as easily as you can with a site like Pandora, which offers a mobile app for those who want to hear music while away from their computer.
Other than that, though, I simply love MySpace Music. It's the single reason why my love affair with Pandora is over and it's my first destination when I want to listen to music while I work. Simply put, it's outstanding.
Songs, songs, songs
As much as I enjoy the discovery engine on Pandora, I'd much rather have the option to build my own playlist of songs and listen to only those titles I want to hear. That's a luxury I really don't have on Pandora, but it's the backbone of what makes MySpace Music great.
MySpace Music currently offers millions (yes, millions) of songs from artists ranging from the popular, like Britney Spears and Bruce Springsteen, to the obscure, like Deerhunter. And unlike most services in the space, you can listen to those titles as often as you'd like and create a slew of playlists.
My taste in music is about as eclectic as it gets. I love Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, but I also enjoy Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffett. I've been known to rock out to "Womanizer" by Britney Spears and Bing Crosby is just as welcome on my playlists as Toby Keith. Suffice it to say that I enjoy almost every type of music.
With the help of MySpace Music, I can create playlists that feature songs from all those artists, and I can listen to them in any way I wish--as many times as I wish. There are no restrictions on me when I play these songs, and for once the music industry is fine with the fact that I'm listening to these tracks each day for free. How things have changed.
MySpace Music has inked a deal with Amazon that allows users to buy any track they enjoy on Amazon's MP3 DRM-free store. And although I'm an iPhone user who still buys some songs on iTunes, I've found it more convenient to use Amazon's MP3 Store on MySpace Music.
Unless I've heard a song I like on the radio, a 30-second preview on iTunes won't help me figure out if I want to purchase a song or not. That's where MySpace Music comes in. Since I can listen to a song in its entirety for as long as I'd like, I know which version of the song I want before I buy it. Now, I could go to iTunes and buy it, but since some songs, like "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen, are available in multiple versions, I can't guarantee I'll be buying the track I want. MySpace Music eliminates that fear.
In every playlist, an Amazon icon is waiting for me, and in a matter of seconds the song is being downloaded onto my computer. Once complete, I can add it to my iTunes library (which the Amazon MP3 download software can do for you automatically) and I'm all set. Granted, I could do that with other online music services, but MySpace Music makes it simple and convenient.
Intuition is key
An intuitive interface is important to me and based on my testing, MySpace Music does the best job of bringing intuition into the world of online music engines.
As a Pandora user, I've grown accustomed to a solid interface. But when I started using MySpace Music, I was shocked by how easy it was to use. In a matter of seconds, I was able to search for songs, add them to my playlist in just two clicks, and listen to them through a player in a pop-up window. I never got lost trying to figure out what to do next, and whenever I came back to the page, opening my saved playlist and listening to songs took seconds.
Search for it!
A huge library of songs is great, but it's worth nothing unless there's a good way to search through them. That's where MySpace Music really shines.
Searching for a song couldn't be any easier in MySpace Music. Whether you're looking for Billy Joel, Britney Spears, or "Margaritaville," the site will deliver it in a matter of seconds. In fact, when I search for obscure titles from artists I don't know, the site even finds close matches to my query and delivers hundreds of results.
Thinking it must be a fluke, I tried searching "Last Mango in Paris" by Jimmy Buffett by inputting "mango" into the search field. I was impressed by how many relevant results it returned. Searching for well-known artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan returned even better results, including hundreds of different songs from albums throughout their careers. Not once did I have any trouble trying to find what I was looking for.
The total package
Is MySpace Music perfect? Of course not. But one thing is certain: it offers the total package that the competition simply doesn't.
When I consider using an online music service, I want good music, an easy interface, and the ability to do what I want, when I want. And when I started using different services in the space, I found that MySpace Music was the only option that both met and surpassed those needs.
Although it lacks the ability to share playlists with others, and stream tracks to portable devices, I find it to be the most appealing alternative on the market. It gives me a huge library of songs, the ability to pick what I listen to, and a level of usability that's unparalleled. That's why it's my ideal service.