I was always very disgusted with mainstream music. My relation with it could be clearly explained as hate, for it was something that I strongly disliked and it was pumped into my ears at every corner. Something like being vegetarian and work for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Or watching a television with hypersensitivity for bullshit and manipulation.
But back in the golden age of music distributors, it was a tough job to beying music explorer. You sailed being dragged by strong curret of mainstream and hoped for some fresh can of music that drops some nearby sailor. The cans in those days were magnetic tapes, later burned CD's and because such ways of exploring was illegal, you had no other choice than sail under the pirate flag.
Music distributors were obviously satisfied with status quo, for it was easy to develop new stars and make huge cash piles. But the customers demanded change. They wanted share and explore, quickly and comfortably. And the technology allowed that. In 1999 the online music sharing service called Napster held huge success. It was all about free sharing of music, no payments, pure anarchy. The service lasted two years in operation, but was shutted down by the court in lawsuit initiated by rock band Metallica.
During the first decade of 21. century, the distributors insisted on the old model like a tickheaded. They were sceptic to digital distribution, although it was obvious, that the demand for it grows stronger every day. They were afraid of easiness of digital copying. They lacked the believe in customers honesty (they judged them by their selves, I think) and most importantly, they realized, that digital distribution is able to cut them of as a middle-man in publisher to customer relation.
Lucky for us today, those days are deep past and I'm excited that I can finally feed my weird music taste quickly, comfortably and legaly.
There are three to five most popular online music services and they have much in common. They all operates as a online streaming service, average price for unlimited access is around 10 bucks per month and offers roughly 30 mio songs in library, including newest releases.
I started with Google Music, which has good sound quality, offers you suggestion based on your taste and allows you upload your existing music collections into their cloud, so you can listen to it everywhere via web browser. If you want listen to some songs offline, you have to buy them for reasonable price. You can then download it as MP3 in 320 kbps without DRM. Sweet?
It gets better. Two months ago, I switched to Spotify, for it supports more devices. It has terrific native client for Windows, Linux and even Windows Mobile. The Windows client supports streaming over DLNA, so I can send music from Spotify to my WiFi speaker in bathroom and most importanly, it offers a offline mode! You can sync up to 10,000 songs offline selectivelly to any of your devices. The syncing is done via playlists, so you create e.g. playlist Smartphone, which in your smartphone you mark as available offline and you can edit that playlist from any client, so you can change your Smartphone playlist on PC and it's automatically synced to your phone. Now the 10$ per month is my final expenses for music recordings.
On the other hand, spotify lacks music suggestions. You have to have facebook account or last.fm account which it can communicate with or you can try service like gnoosic or simply search on google. But isn't that searching and discovering one of the great thig in music?
UPDATE: Dear Spotify, forgive me that I made such a wrong statement about lack of music suggestions. The Discover weakly playlist is awesome. It arranges 30 songs for you every week based on your listening history. This week, I found new 15 astonishing pieces, while the rest 15 are also really good. The whole playlist is simply brilliant. I'm really impressed!