Other Music

By dabilendabilen (1256709325|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Prior to my discovery of Songza I used a variety of websites to listen to music, legally download mp3s and discover new music. In order to truly understand the convenience of Songza it is good to see why the other guys do not deliver the same product or experience.

Here we will look at YouTube, Pandora, Pure Volume, SadSteve. The combination of these websites often a wide array of different music listening options. In order to properly discuss each resource I will give brief intros on each search engine and then evaluate each resource on the following metrics:

  • General Usage
  • Unique Offerings
  • Versatility
  • Cons

Youtube

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As of now this is the major songza competitor considering almost all resources that songza references come directly from youtube, even the youtube video is played on the left hand side as your music is played.

General Usage Overall very intuitive, simply type and go.
Unique Offerings Youtube uniquely integrates video watching, with social network type blogging, rating ability, and related search results.
Versatility There are millions of videos, that cover many things beyond music, which makes this a good place to go for a fun tune, followed by a good laugh, then a news update. This versatility gives youtube a competitive advantage over many other sites.
Cons Youtube offers too much accessibility for users at times, which means you must often sort through lots of videos that do not match your requests. For instance - I do NOT want a 6 year old kids heavy metal version of my favorite Josh Groban holiday tune.
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Here you see the video player on the top left, search function in top center, blog/comments section on bottom left, and related videos on bottom right. Youtube is able to aggregate a lot of information in a functional way on a single page. A huge testament to the convenience of the search engine.

Final Verdict:

  1. Searches seem to be somewhat more refined, at times an obvious search yields non-music results
  2. Youtube offers much more than music, I prefer youtube for funny skits and songza for music

Pandora

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Pandora has been around for a long time and has made a great name for itself. From my usage of Pandora the best thing is that it exposes me to new music that I had yet to hear of, which is their idea behind making your "radio stations." They take user preferences and find similar songs that they believe you may like, and you can further cater your stations to your preferences as you indicate what you like and don't like from their selections.

Unfortunately, having used Pandora long enough I have found the same songs play on several of my stations … guess Pandora ran out of options for me. Additionally you can NEVER indicate what song you want to listen to, that would violate their copyright deals with artists that are on Pandora apparently. That is a big draw back

General Usage This website is a randomized online radio stationed player. Users type in an artist or song of interest and the website begins randomly generating related songs. Additionally, users can add additional songs or artists to their station, which they call adding "variety."
Unique Offerings With the randomized generator and variety adding options, Pandora is a great way to be exposed to new music. Pandora creates connections to new artists that users may not have known about, making it a new age jukebox.
Versatility Only offers music, but it offers A LOT of it, which is great. Since users can create as many stations as they would like you can have a radio station for every mood that you are in.
Cons At times it is frustrating to have no control over what song you can listen to. Also, since Pandora pays for each song it plays it only lets you skip a small handful of songs before making you wait for about 20 mins. Lastly, there is a cap of 40 hours per month, an issue when you are working those long 80+ hour work weeks.
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Pandora shows songs being played in the center scroll bar and provides information on the artist being played in the bottom center box. In that box users can also be navigated to band websites, places to purchase their music or other information. A nice tool that helps advertise for the bands here, incentivizing their involvement with Pandora.

Final Verdict:

  1. Songza's suggestions can be compared to Pandora's random player output in a more controlled environment - you can pick what you want on Songza and go from there.
  2. Pandora will still always where I go when I want to listen to music in a mindless fashion, but Songza will be where I go when there are specific songs I want to hear

Pure Volume

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Emo music lover's heaven. This station is a great place for upcoming artists to create a profile and publish new music. It is a great way for me to get my punk/rock/emo musical fix for the year in a short time frame, so it is efficient, I will give them that. The drawback here is the scope of artists. It seems PureVolume has created a niche to cater to small punk rock groups, the interface lends to the moody vibe.

General Usage The best place to go to find and listen to up and coming rock bands. Simply type in a name or song to go to a specific band profile or use the suggestions on the home page to discover new bands.
Unique Offerings PureVolume promotes bands to actually come to the website, create profiles and post their music for public listening. Since many of these bands are new, this is sometime the only place to listen to a lot of music that other websites, pandora and youtube, do not play or have in their database. Lastly, some bands put their songs on the site for free download, which is nice since these small bands often have no outlet for distribution
Versatility PV has not appealed to many non-rock bands, that said there is a wide gamut of sub-genres in rock: acoustic rock, hard rock, hip-hop rock, soft rock, etc. Therefore there is still an ability to get good versatility in music.
Cons As previously mentioned, the site is rather exclusive to the rock genre solely as a product of the niche it has marketed to. Also, the majority of songs on the site do not have a download option, which would be nice to promote small artists who use the site.
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Here is a screenshot of the PureVolume homepage. As you can see the brooding vibe is very apparent. Also I would like to highlight how PureVolume openly promotes various artisits, which they shuffle through on their homepage weekly or even daily. This is the feature that I like in order to simply be introduced to cool new bands.

Final Verdict:

  1. Due to PV's niche of rock music it cannot compete with the breadth Songza offers
  2. PureVolume's selective download offering is a competitive advantage against Songza, that said quick development with Songza makes me believe this advantage might not be long lasting

Sad Steve

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An AWESOME place to download free/legal music. That said much like PV, it has a very limited breadth of songs available. Most artists are not too keen on releasing new hits for free. That said it is a great service that I take full advantage of on a weekly basis.

General Usage This is a simple search engine, search for a specific song or artist, cross your fingers for a positive result, then listen or download the song for free. Interface is nothing too special, but it does the job.
Unique Offerings Free and legal downloads are hard to come by, this one, somehow, has seemed to navigate through the legal paperwork to make such an offering. Also, it is nice that you can listen to the song in a pop-out audio player and then choose to download it. This way you know the quality of your download before actually downloading. In the same pop-out window, users can email the song to a friend, post it to facebook, or even see the lyrics of their song [although this feature is often littered with mistakes]. Lastly, they have the "Percolator" option which will shuffle users through new songs that the creator's recommend, a good way to try out some new genres.
Versatility Not too much here. The site only caters to music and has a rather small database.
Cons There is a major issue with sustainability on this site, it has gone down a few times in the past due to issues with funds … there are none. The site relies upon user donations, which I would assume are not tax-refundable, hence providing little incentive. Additionally, as mentioned, the database is very small and full of mislabeled songs which at times make users sift through a lot of "crap" to get any decent results.
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The pop-out audio player on SadSteve pops out when a user clicks the play song button allocated to any song. Here the user has the option to download the song, send it to a friend, or even see the lyrics, although lyrics are not available for all songs and often are incorrect.

As you can see, the interface is very simple but gets the job done.

Final Verdict:

  1. In the world of iPods and music on the go, downloading is a necessary feature, Songza cannot compete here
  2. Versatility of Songza, since it routes from other websites, makes it a better choice for music listening when you are at your desk plugged into a computer

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