I’m a regular user of my free Slacker account. I have tried a variety of streaming media services – Moontaxi, anyone? – and used Last.fm until I came to Canada and could no longer get it for free. I use Slacker enough now that all of my kids are familiar with the service’s jingle!
Streaming music services have a number of appeals for me. The biggest one is that it unearths music that I would never have heard otherwise. I don’t listen to local radio stations due to lack of choice, which causes me to fall back on my CD and LP collection. But I’ve already heard all of those. Whether I put in a familiar song or artist in Slacker or, increasingly, choose one of their preset streams, I very quickly run across music I like and haven’t heard before.
I’m not sure where Slacker gets its money, beyond its premium service. There must be some money transfer going on between Slacker and the music producers, if not the artists themselves. I don’t contribute to that business relationship, for the most part.
When I favorite a song, though, by clicking the small heart on the song, I add a critical piece of metadata: for some reason, that song caught my attention as the stream goes by. Every few months, I’ll review my favorite list and go and purchase some of the tracks. My recent purchase included:
- Churchill‘s Change album, primarily because of the Change single
- Imagine Dragons’ Night Vision album, for a number of songs including Bleeding Out and Amsterdam
- Family of the Year‘s Loma Vista album, for Hero
- New Politics’ Harlem single
- A.C. Newman‘s Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns single
- Walk the Moon‘s single Jenny
All Slacker-inspired. No impulse buys! And I like that I can choose a single or take a bit of a dare and grab the whole album. I use Puretracks.com to purchase (no iTunes) so that sometimes limits what I can find, and being in Canada can limit the selection no matter what platform you use.
Slacker’s recent interface revamp is a huge improvement, although I admit that I use their site mostly like a radio. I’ll turn to my device – tablet for the Android app, or laptop – to skip ahead or favorite a song, but otherwise leave it running in a background window. The new layout makes my favorites, my shopping list, easier to navigate.
I am a music freeloader for the most part, and I expect many people are, whether it’s a radio station, a Youtube playlist, or a streaming station. But it seems to me that, like books borrowed from a library that lead to an eventual sale, my purchases close the loop. The actual dollars I spend are meaningless, but hopefully are part of enough of a revenue flow that encourage the other participants – Slacker and the musicians and their recording companies – to continue to provide the flow of music.