I haven’t used TuneIn for quite a while, just because I felt I had way too many radio applications on my phone. However, like a real music lover that I am, at some point, I ended up reinstalling it anyway. Much to my surprise, TuneIn now has a premium plan. For $7.99 a month, you can get access to premium audio books, and add free music stations! Now that’s interesting. Yet, it is not surprising. Pretty much every online streaming company is following the likes of Adobe and Rhapsody by creating low cost subscription services. I hadn’t realized just how popular audio books have become. Personally, I prefer paper or digital books so far (maybe I’ll grow in to them, who knows?). I’m interested to see how well this goes; it just maybe a perfect niche for TuneIn. Well, actually, the NY Public Library have been offering both text and audio book downloads for years before iPads were popular. However, I’ve also noticed that the record feature is no longer available. I’m not sure if there was pressure from the MPAA or DMCA to remove the feature, or if it’s now only available for premium users. I think the new TuneIn Premium is good for book lovers, but not if you’re only interested in music. I think it would be better to use Spotify or Rhapsody for music. I don’t think I’ll be bothering with their trail membership; I’m kind of burnt out logging in and trying all this stuff; I think I have a pretty good idea of what it’s about already. However, I am curious about the “commercial free radio.” They say they have over “600 add free stations,” but I’m thinking are these stations actually playlists or live radio? If it is a playlist radio, there are way too many free services I can use for that! Well, like I said, we’ll see how this goes.
If you’re one of those people that doesn’t scare easily when it comes to the possibility of hefty fines and jail time for downloading illegal content; then the annoyance of actually trying to surf just one of these public/private torrent trackers should be enough to reform you! LOL.. Before I continue, I’d like to start off by mentioning two important things. First, I’m NOT writing this article to try to convince you NOT to use torrents, or to preach to you that you’re evil for partaking in illegal downloads. However, I would like to share with you my experience with you as it pertains to using torrents. I started using torrents for well over a decade ago (close to two), and today using torrents has become more of a hassle than what it’s worth, and I’ll explain more in detail as I go along in this article. The time you spend trying to stay “safe,” while downloading illegally (which by the way there’s no such thing as “safe,” I don’t care what bullshit someone tells you! Yes, seedboxes are effective however, that doesn’t mean that one day the music industry can’t make law makers require seedboxes to keep logs, and or demand that accounts be deleted. Look what happened with Rapidshare? Their business was nearly destroyed as the result of back and forth court battles. Everyone thought Rapidshare was the bomb, until a bomb fell on Rapidshare. So, don’t be so confident), and the money we spend on additional tools and mechanisms for downloading, and the amount of bad quality files/corrupt/fake/or infected files you come in contact with, you might as well do it the legal way (or as much as humanly possible). As the cost of legal streaming becomes cheaper (as well as FREE content providers such as Crackle:movies and Spotify:music), and as more content is offered, using torrent technology is now quickly becoming VERY antiquated. This becomes especially true when it comes to music; it makes absolutely NO SENSE to use torrents for music! To risk a cease and desist letter, AND still face legal action? For bloody what? When music is practically free via legal services like Spotify. I’ve seen a noticeable decrease in participation on many popular trackers, and it’s certainly not because they’re lacking available choices in music and movies (that should tell you something). Things have definitely changed guys. Anybody that is still using torrents, it’s because of “force of habit.” The second important thing I’d like to bring up is more of a reminder, that the use of torrent technology by itself is NOT illegal, but the downloading of illegal content is. Example, if you’re downloading an old, and very well known public domain movie called “Night Of The Living Dead (1968),” downloading it using torrent technology is very legal. Or maybe you are using Linux/Unix OS, and like to download open source software made available for free, it is perfectly legal to use torrents. However, if you download the latest Jill Scott album using torrents, it is piracy. I think that it is important for me to take a minute to write about this, because soo many people have the wrong idea about torrents. They are no more illegal or less illegal than using Mediafire, Hotfile, or even DropBox. It’s not the service or technology that makes it illegal, it’s what you’re doing with it. The point of torrent technology is to share bandwidth, eliminating the need to pay a service for storage; such as Mediafire, Hotfile, etc. Thus making files that ARE free, actually free. By the way, you may hear that “USNETS,” are better,” this is an absolute lie. In fact, it is my opinion that you open yourself up to more exposed to infected files, and security breaches. People are so desperate to find ways not to pay for anything, that the public risk all kinds of shit in order to get these illegal downloads, while lying to themselves that these things are great! I can assure you their not, and they’re just as unsafe. You see on the news what are happening to big banks, and they spend a lot of money keeping their systems secure and it’s still not perfect. And many of you don’t even have a bear minimum of a good firewall set up! And you’re telling other people to do what you do! Geniuses you guys are huh?
Some trackers require you to log in once every month (sometimes even more than that), and if you don’t your account will automatically get deactivated and purged. Regardless if you’re on a private or public tracker, more and more fake torrents are produced. More and more fake torrents are being shared without being checked by the uploader, wasting the downloader’s time. If just one person downloads one of those torrents, then 50% of torrent users throughout the torrent world will have that same torrent. Torrents without subtitles or audio translations. Torrents with several hundred tiny zip files. Torrents with several hundred links to various torrent trackers. Torrents with embedded spam and malware that keep your computer infected with something. Torrents with region restrictions on videos. Torrents from users that don’t know what their doing, yet complain about you. Torrents that contain videos with removed audio and a “Cinavia” error (which I’ve seen on public domain movies believe it or not). Swarms with horrific speeds. Torrents with video bitrate that are so low, you are baffled that someone would even consider uploading. Never mind downloading the bootleg version of “Jurassic World (2015)” is illegal; the amount of bulls**t the average true torrent user goes through, it’s not even worth it. Music torrents with 0kb CDA files. Waiting indefinitely for someone to finally upload that special torrent that you wanted so bad; and if found, you discover that there are numerous file corruptions. Please, don’t think links are any better, because they are actually worse; with 0.2kb speeds and each link will be a different service requiring payment for each service. Unfortunately, because more and more people are now using the internet, more and more of those people don’t have a clue as to what their doing. In other words, there is absolute chaos in the torrent world.
Having said the above, it’s not worth all the hassle of using torrent technologies (unless you are downloading Unix/Linux software, public domain movies, Creative Commons, Copyleft, Open Source, GNU licensed software, public learning material, or any other legal files from a legally legitimate website). If you Google “Legal Downloads,” or “Legal Streaming,” you can quickly identify the truly legal ones by noticing repetitions (how many times that company appears (usually on sites that offer various lists of other legal downloads or streaming). Another clue is to notice what companies are the first to be listed by google. Google always verifies a site before they list it; so if Google thinks that a site could be illegal, they will not listed at all (Google Ads). However, because Google Ads are quite expensive, please don’t rely on seeing Google Ads alone. A small streaming company who’s already paying a lot of money for licensing fees, just may decide to opt out on using Google Ads and submit to search engines the old fashioned way. Have a site checker like Norton’s Anti-virus/Firewall bundle, it tells you of any suspicious links from right in your Google search. Since streaming services came to be, we have seen a steady drop in piracy and increase sales in both streaming services and pay-per-download. Now entertainment has become affordable and we don’t have to deal with the hassles of using torrents, and rude ass admins and moderators anymore! And most importantly, not only are there many streaming services that are LEGAL, you can now share the links with other members (or non-members) of the same streaming service, LEGALLY! Or just use YouTube; doing that is certainly a hell of a lot easier than waiting for months trying to get in to a specialty tracker; or risking a DMCA letter (keep in mind that more and more private trackers are using public URL announcements now). If a friend is not a member of your favorite legal streaming service, they get 30 second (music) to 2 minute (video) samples; or they can just simply Shazam it, or search for the song in their favorite streaming service. Stop being so scared! Legal streaming has completely changed the game.
If you still stuck in a time warp, and you still don’t “believe” it’s now legal to share, then just take the time and read the legalese/license for your favorite service yourself (Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, Slacker, whatever) at least. If you are new to music/video streaming, and don’t know which ones to start with, click here or here or here. For videos click here. Common sense should tell you that TV news would be reporting Facebook and twitter users being thrown in jail left and right (hellllllooooo?). Legal services like Spotify gives you FULL access to their entire library (which is about 50+ million songs by now) for a very low monthly fee. Easy to search; easy to create and save playlists; all in high quality; and easy to help the streaming community by rating your music. You also help the the movie goer community too such as Netflix; informing other users as to what to watch; informing the provider as to what to keep in their library and cluing what other kinds of movie licenses they should purchase and make available. Most importantly, if you have an HDTV, I think its best to subscribe to one of these services for best quality. Depending on the movie studio, most content made available is damn near Blu-Ray quality (some services like Netflix even offer 4K streaming). You’re not going to get best quality from a 600mb torrent file; and most importantly a lot of ISP companies like Comcast, throttle, cap, or even block the use of bittorrent applications through their network; you will no longer have that problem at all with legal streaming; and you don’t have to be burdened with quotas or seeding (which also exposes your IP on public announcements). You get the highest possible quality, and whatever service you use, and you know it’s going to work! No incompatibilities, no spending hours searching, no begging for reseeds and hoping for the best. Do you realize how difficult it is to find certain music albums in the torrent world? It is sooo much better to just use Napster or Spotify and call it a day. I think you guys get the picture. Everything literally boils down to, within about a week or two, after a new album is released, will be made available on music streaming/YouTube. So why go through the hassle of using torrents to download it? Movies are usually made available on Blu-Ray about 6 months after it’s released in theaters (depending on how well it does, could be longer). So why bother going through the hassles of using bittorrent when you can easily order it from Netflix? In fact, do you realize that some times movie services like VUDU have selected movies still in theaters? You’d have to pay a little more, but it’s still cheaper than actually going to the movies (no need to download 300 tiny little zip files for one movie, then discover there’s a missing password, plus you know its a horrible bootleg anyway LOL).
Honestly, between 3 of the biggest (low cost) movie streaming competitors, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon, you have all the high quality movies you’ll ever need. Between Napster and Spotify’s FREE accounts, you’re just insane if you still use torrents to get your music at this point. There’s no reason why you should be using torrents for music; even if you’re a serious music collector; what are the odds of a tracker having all your out of print music anyway? Actually, scratch that, because actual collectors prefer to physically buy all their music and movies! It is easier, and most practical to get it from Spotify (did I mention that Spotify is both legal to use and FREE?). Look, I realize that torrents has always been somewhat political as well. Meaning, some people prefer to use torrents as a way of rebelling against the f**ked up music and movie industry who try to put both many fans and artists in the poor house with their greed. However, at the same time, now that entertainment is a lot more affordable, if we don’t use some of the legal services I’ve mentioned, our favorite actors, musicians, songwriters, etc are the ones who take a hit. If we continue not to use legal services like Spotify and Netflix, there will be very few financial incentives for any artist or movie studio to create quality content, and we’d be stuck with even more garbage playing on the radio and on TV. There’s only so much we can take of movies like “Sharknado,” or any movies with giant spiders, or giant snakes made in a laboratory, or giant alligators, or genetically engineered leopard lizard creatures, or a virus turning an entire town in to zombies except for 3 people, or movies with extremely poor CGI, or predictable movies about college kids going away to some cabin for the weekend (usually to have sex) and some devil monster eats them all up, or a bunch of doofie drunk kids decide to mess with a Ouija board (even though the instructions basically says “do not touch”) and all hell breaks loose. Grrrr. LOL
Before digital technology and the internet came along, music and movies were never meant to be free. And it still not meant to be free. Back in the day, taping your favorite soap operas/talk shows/movies, and or copying your vinyls to cassette tapes for personal use did not hurt the music and movie industry; and it was indeed legal under fair use. Movies and TV shows are public access, and have been paid for by the ad sponsors; and records where ok because most people purchased their albums (even if you made a copy for your friend or brother, it still wasn’t enough to cripple the industry). But we also had a stronger sense of “fandom” back then; in other words people were proud to purchase the albums of their favorite artists; their posters hanging on the wall of their favorite artist or band; their favorite movie posters hanging on the wall; we were proud of purchasing things that became collectibles; collectibles that sparked conversations and helped to build tremendous fan communities (such as Star Trek); and in turn supported the artists/actors. However, in the digital age we have to realize that torrents are a whole different matter. Torrent users distributes copies to other users (exponentially) in mass quantities in literally a matter of seconds on ultra-high speed, which does hurt (and continues to) the recording and film industry (let’s not even talk about other forms of piracy). Unfortunately, I think the big problem is despite the ease of use, convenience, and safety of using Spotify, Napster, Netflix etc, many of us have grown too accustomed to solely using torrents and it has become somewhat of an addiction. Some of us have been doing it for so long, that we’ve developed an attitude of entitlement. I ask that my readers not perceive me as a moralistic blogger who wants to judge others who still use torrents. It’s just because “I’ve been there and done that,” that I write with a greater sense of wisdom. I’ve been downloading since the days of “Online Bulletin Boards” or “Electronic Bulletin Boards” in the early 80’s. That’s almost 40 years ago, so not only do I have thorough experience, I have good perspective. When I started downloading, I was buying legal shareware for a dollar a disk from BBSs. So it’s not that “I have a dream of waking torrent users up!” I’m just really thinking of the greater long-term effects of our continued torrent use down the road. If at least half of the 40 million free Spotify users would switch to paid premium account of $9.99 a month (a lot of torrent users spend more money than that buying blank DVD/blu-rays to burn all the Ultra-HD movies they’ve downloaded), that would help the music industry significantly. Spotify is already in essence giving you 3 months for a dollar; that is a huge discount.
Now, the new way of file sharing is sharing Spotify or Napster or YouTube on Facebook/Twitter, while helping others to discover at the same time. Sharing IMDB links, along with HULU and Netflix on Facebook/Twitter. Come and share with us (by the way, people on Facebook and Twitter are measurably nicer overall than members of a lot of these trackers you’re still breaking your neck to get in to) worry free! Not to mention, these services get free advertising by giving us the tools to allow us to share, AND, the actors and performers get paid. I apologize, I know I’ve written a lot, but I also know no one is really talking about this in depth, and we need to bring value back to good entertainment.
Last Update: March 25, 2017
What a great subject to write about I thought. I think it’s safe to say that, we focus more on just using Shazam, than thinking how important the service is to us. I have been using Shazam and services like Shazam for quite a few years, and it has proved to be an essential application to have on any smartphone. But, Shazam just doesn’t help the die-hard music lovers; indirectly they also help the streaming services as well! Why? Well, they are actually “bridging the gap,” between the major streaming services (although iTunes/Amazon both have streaming and “On-Demand” download purchases, I still consider it in the same family of streaming). Shazam is not only the best music discovery application to date, it is an independent service that does not depend on music sales “per-say,” but it’s popularity and near flawless functionality. What I’m trying to say is, the music industry depends on Shazam, not the other way around. Shazam makes money by making it easy for Shazam users to purchase their discoveries on iTunes Amazon, and Google. Now, with the recent partnership of Rhapsody, Shazam can encourage people to slowly move over to streaming services. Shazam plays an important role with streaming services, because each time a user Shazams something, they are not obligated to sign up for another service! Shazam will eventually bring all kinds of services together in one application, making it very convenient for Shazam users. If your particular service doesn’t have a song in their library, you’ll still have a choice of purchasing that song through anyone of the three services Shazam is partnered with. The integration with Rhapsody is still new, so the functionality still needs to be ironed out, but the fact that Rhapsody is there speaks volumes. And the fact that some rich dude invested over $40M on Shazam and it’s research. Music fans are in a very exciting era; how wonderful to be living in an age with such incredible technology at our fingertips!
UPDATE: June 6th 2017!
A year later, I have made a blogger’s decision to switch from Napster to Spotify. Although I really liked Napster, as a blogger I can reach more fans with Spotify. HOWEVER, I wanted to keep this article because I want to illustrate to streaming fans that FREE should not be the criteria used to deem whether or not a service is best. It breeds close mindedness. Ideas are constantly floating around, innovations are constantly being made, nothing stays the same! A good example is Apple. I bet you Apple never thought that Samsung would give them such a run for their money right? Right… Nuff said.. To be fair, since I’ve written this article, Spotify has made some MAJOR improvements and internal fixes, which I’m very happy about.
Hi guys, Spotify sent out an offer I could not refuse! Via Android/mobile application, they offered members a special deal, 3 months for $0.99! Hmmm, could this be in direct response to Apple’s new streaming service, which will offer 3 months free at the end of this month? Well I got to tell you, after playing with Spotify for the first 15 minutes, I still don’t like it (I’m sorry to say). Not enough to be willing to drop Napster. I know a lot of users love Spotify because of it offers free accounts; but “free” should not be your only criteria for declaring a company to be “the best streaming service.” Second, you should know that you’re not getting it free because the Spotify guys are nice people; you’re getting free service because the subscribers and ad revenue is offsetting your leeching/freeloading!!!! So everything has a cost, be it seen or unseen! By the way, if Apple has anything to do with it, the free accounts could possibly go away inevitably in the future. Apple has always been vocal about claiming Spotify is devaluing music by making it free.
Spotify’s mobile application still needs a lot of work. I figured, what the hell, I’ll try Spotify for the last time and see if I can come up with more good things to say about it (other than it’s free accounts). I’ll be honest, the only reason I’ve used Spotify, is because I couldn’t ignore that a significant more people use the service over Napster. However, I also know that the most of the people that rave about it, and blog about it are also the free account freeloaders/and leeches. Before I ever consider changing over from Napster to Spotify, some significant changes need to happen. Their application mobile application is really behind the times. The biggest change that needs to take place is that, I need an option to save to SD. You can’t give users the option to download 320k files and only save on a phone with limited storage capacity (even a 32GB tablet is too small). Second, they must bump up the “save” limit to no greater than 10,000 songs, and 3,333 downloads! Believe it or not, this limit includes paying customers! With my Napster account I have unlimited saves, playlists and downloads. Anybody who can’t see that as an issue, is not a real die hard music lover. I’m sorry, but real music lovers are always looking for space and download ability to satisfy their constant hunger for more music and diversity! Period. My musical tastes are way to eclectic and diverse to be limited to only 10,000; my iTunes alone is over 25,000 (and mind you, I deleted a lot of albums too). Unfortunately, I am 99% sure that this has to do with licensing; because as far as I can see, thousands of members had complained about it for quite a while. This does make sense, as it’s free users are triple it’s actual paid subscribers.
They also need to clean up their queue feature, it’s very sloppy, and it automatically deletes after a song is played. If I want to hear it again, I have to go back and add it (especially with a large queue. You’re better off creating a play list instead. I don’t like the fact that it automatically saves a radio station once you create one; assuming I’d like every station I create? When I subscribed and switched to pay, Spotify kept that stupid annoying “Shuffle Play” button in the middle of my search results. It felt like I was still in the free version. And the worst problem of all, when songs had expired from my old saved list, there was nothing to tell me that the license expired for that song. I had to keep trying to play the song before I figured it out, before I was just forced to delete it. I don’t have that issue with Napster. Napster removes expired songs from the mobile/web application. For the desk top, Napster grays the song out, so that I know that the license expired. Lastly you have no idea whether a song is downloaded or not, there is no real indication, unless you have no signal and your off-line. Napster changes the file’s color to easily let me know when a song is downloaded or not. So, sorry guys, Spotify still sucks ass in my opinion. In the end, I didn’t feel that Spotify was particularly intuitive either. Sorry.
I’m not saying that I would stick with Napster forever, but for right now, it is the best for me, and far exceeds my expectations, and ease of use. To be honest, my only reason I wanted to try Spotify again, was because it made blogging incredibly easier for me. I was able to save some steps when Tweeting and Facebooking. However, after my second (paid) time around with Spotify, the extra steps doesn’t seem so bad after all. I’ll be cancelling it after my three months is up. I’ll continue to blog using the free version, just for you guys…. For my tweeted Napster and Shazam links, it will not kill you to manually type the name of the artist in your Spotify to search for my tweeted songs. Sorry, but I get so much more the same price with Napster.
Music has changed so much since the first phonograph was invented. iCloud and streaming services has permanently changed music forever. In fact, not only has music changed, but how we get our movies too! We’ve gotten to the point that, as soon as bandwidth becomes faster (actually we have the ability, but the ISPs don’t allow it), movie theaters just may be a thing of the past (especially as good HDTV brands have become extremely affordable now). These days you can build a little mini theater right in your home, and don’t have to worry about someone else uncontrolled kids; or have to worry about someone’s big hair disrupting your view of the movie. I dream of the day, that we no longer have to worry about the high priced popcorn and snacks at the counter; dealing with rude employees; and saving money on travel. Even if I had to pay a little more for a movie, I recon it will still be cheaper than a trip to the theater. LOL I feel very sorry for people who still procrastinate learning technology; These are the very same people who would pay high prices for Pay-per-view.
However, as much as I love this new technologies and the new way we receive our entertainment, I realize we’ve also lost a lot as well. As a collector, things like “limited edition memorabilia” will practically be extinct. But even more importantly, because we are now in the age of “licensing to hear a song (or movie),” and more and more companies like Rhapsody have gone solely subscription, if a license has expired on an old song, you no longer have an option to purchase that song. The only thing you can do really is write a request for that song or album again, or hunt for it on the internet, and hope you find it. This can actually create another huge problem. We all know the music industry is a bunch of greedy wolves, all the CD’s for popular classic artists will all magically become “imports.” The word “import” will allow the music label to charge you 50x more the CD’s value. A good example is Donna Summer. I’ve seen a couple of her CD’s that said “import” on it, however when you look at the text on the packaging, it will say NY, NY.; for this they are allowed to change an insane price. Not only that, when Donna died, one of her albums called “Another Place In time (1989),” could not be found anywhere on the streaming services (not even iTunes had it at the time). The CD was insanely priced; and it wasn’t until the news of her death died off, the album was made available for streaming and iTunes. We can’t blame the artists for this! You want to support your artists, but the music industry is fucked up towards the fans.
I’m pretty sure there will become a time when streaming services will be the only way we receive our entertainment, and it will literally put piracy to a full halt. Using torrents will one day be seen as primitive and nonsensical. I never had a problem purchasing my music and movies, so long as it is of good quality, the price is reasonable, and extras such as, sound/pdf/movie clips, etc.
I got to be honest though, in terms of movies, there is so much CRAP on television that cable companies should be ashamed of themselves changing the money they do for these dumb as reality TV shows. Honestly, it’s probably better to just get basic cable, and you’ll come out cheaper with both HULU and Netflix together; and choose what ever movie you want, when you want it, and how much you want it. Lets just hope the streaming services will stay affordable; Otherwise people will be recording movies off their TV using their cellphones… LOL