If there's one music streaming service that'll go down as one of the most underrated in history, it'll be Google Play Music. It has a great selection of songs to stream, can be used as a digital locker for storing your own library of tunes, and taps into Google's all-knowing AI tech to recommend songs based on the time of day and where you are. Add that together with great UIs for mobile/desktop and solid pricing, and it's a pretty great package.
YouTube Music existed for a while alongside Google Play Music, but in 2018, it received a massive overhaul with eventual plans from Google to replace Play Music with YouTube Music entirely. This news saddened a lot of long-time Play Music subscribers, and last week, Google started making its initial moves towards Play Music's eventual shutdown.
It's certainly sad to know that Play Music is gradually heading towards the light, and while I was a subscriber for quite some time, I've been letting Spotify handle all of my music wants and needs of the past few years. Here are a few of the biggest reasons why.
The custom playlists are great
Similar to a lot of people that work from home, I'm pretty much listening to music all day long. Sometimes there are specific albums or artists I want to listen to, but a lot of days, I just want background tunes that I can enjoy while cranking out articles.
Just about every streaming service out there has custom playlists to some degree, but in my experience, I've found that Spotify is the best in these regards. Specifically, I'm in love with its Daily Mixes.
Spotify creates six of these for you, each one with its own distinct style of music. For example, my Daily Mix 1 is a collection of alternative artists I frequently listen to, Daily Mix 2 is a solid playlist of folk songs, and Daily Mix 4 is where I go for my oldies — Tony Bennett, The Temptations, etc. These are usually my go-to playlists because I know that I'll enjoy the music I'm listening to, including a good mix of songs I'm familiar with and a few new ones here and there to help me expand my horizons.
Just last week, I came across a new playlist I hadn't seen before called Everyday Favorites. It's basically a mix of my most-listened-to songs as of late and a few tracks Spotify thinks I'd like across a variety of genders. I've already discovered a few new artists I'm eager to check out more, and I didn't have to actively seek them out.
I know some people haven't liked Spotify's curation to nearly the same degree that I do, but for me, it works really, really well.
It works on virtually everything
Finding a smart device that Spotify doesn't work on is kind of an anomaly in 2019. The mobile app works almost exactly the same on both my Galaxy S10 and iPhone XS. When I want to jam out in the living room, I can either hit up the Spotify Roku app or start streaming to my Sonos Beam via built-in integration in the Sonos app. Whether I'm rocking a Wear OS wearable or Apple Watch, I can seamlessly control my music right on my wrist. All the Google Assistant speakers scattered throughout my home? I can play Spotify at any time by just using my voice.
A lot of music streaming services work on multiple platforms these days, but each one seems to have some sort of omission here and there. So long as we aren't talking about the Apple HomePod or Fitbit's smartwatches, Spotify exists virtually everywhere in the tech space.
What more do I need to say?
If I started listening to Spotify by streaming it to a Bluetooth speaker in my office from my phone, I can control playback right on my computer without skipping a beat. Or, if I want, I can just as easily stop the stream and move it over to my computer's built-in speakers.
Spotify Connect essentially syncs any ongoing playback to all of your devices, allowing you to start, stop, and control your playback however you want. It may not sound very exciting to write/talk about, but after using it each day for years, I can't imagine going back to something that lacks this. Which, for the record, is just about everything.
Spotify's yearly recap is fantastic
At the end of each year, Spotify releases something called "Spotify Wrapped." It's essentially a look back at your streaming activity throughout the past year, highlighting your top songs/artists/albums, how many hours you spent listening to music, etc.
Some people probably couldn't care less about this, but I always think it's fun to get a recap of my listening habits throughout the year and see how they compared to ones past.
And, just like Spotify Connect, it's something Spotify brings to the table that its competitors just don't.
The student plan is a stupidly good deal
This last point won't apply for everyone, but if you're a student, Spotify is the best deal around.
Students can sign up for Spotify for $5/month, and while that's already a 50% discount compared to a regularly-priced individual plan, it also comes with free subscriptions to Hulu and Showtime. If you were to pay for all three of those things on their own, it'd cost you $27/month.
So, yeah, just a small difference.
You can renew the Spotify student plan for up to four years, and when you graduate and move on from school, you can still get Spotify and Hulu bundled together for $13/month instead of the usual $16.
Upgrade your Spotify game
Sonos One ($199 at Amazon)
Whether you buy one or five, the Sonos One is a fantastic little speaker. It's available in black and white, offers great sound, works seamlessly with other Sonos speakers, and connects to Spotify, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, and a myraid of other streaming services.
Lenovo Smart Display ($200 at B&H)
Although its speaker isn't as powerful as the Sonos One's, the Lenovo Smart Display is a great purchase. It's powered by the Google Assistant, meaning you can use your voice and the touchscreen display to learn about the weather, control smart home devices, or manage your Spotify tunes.
Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth ($80 at Amazon)
The Plattan 2 Bluetooth headphones from Urbanears have quickly become part of my daily cary. They have a fantasticly lightweight design, sound surprisingly great, and get phenomenal battery life. For the price, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better.
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