Buying music online: amazon mp3 vs. google play

For many years i did not care much about new music, instead I stuck with like half a dozen of my favorite bands and only very rarely added a new one to the list. I bought most of the CDs years ago, then converted them to mp3s when the whole mp3 thing came up and ever since, I hardly ever listened to the actual CDs any more. I kept buying CDs but other than converting them to mp3 files and then copy them to a mobile player, the actual CDs were of practically no use to me.

In february last year, I gave the amazon mp3 shop a chance to impress me and bought Caliban‘s I am nemesis. Price was fair (like 5 bucks for a brand new album – an offer you hardly can refuse), I liked the music and somehow just wanted to try buying music online. Since that day, I likely spent more money on music than I did during the last 5 years in total. Plus I got to know (some even like) many (to me) new bands.

Until toay, I tried amazons mp3 shop and google play. While in most parts, both shops offer just a really convenient and easy way to buy music, it is almost always a good idea to compare prices between the download portals. Both also offer apps for smartphones and tablets which make it even easier to throw money at them, but especially in that area, they both have some homework to do.

Take google play for example. They have a feature called the wishlist, which is supposed to be an opportunity to easily make a list of things you might want to buy or at least give a try in the future. However, this list is not available on their website. It’s the other way around with amazon. They have a wishlist feature on their website, which takes anything from diapers to digital downloads, but that list is not available in their app. This would be such a great feature and they would even make money off of it, so I guess it’s just a matter of time until that feature will be available on both platforms. As of today though, you have to have a look at the other device in 50% of the time when wanting to access the wishlist of either store.

Another feature I surprisingly enjoy but where they also differ largely is the recommendations. I don’t follow the music scene a lot and tended to just stick to “my” bands for years, so I simply don’t know a lot of new bands. Getting back into this business is made real easy by those recommendations. While amazon’s app offers a tab with only ideas to listen to, the google app lacks this feature. On the website though, it’s the other way around again. Google offers beatifully and well edited recommendations while amazons store almost hides this feature completely below your usual “get crap we can’t afford to store any more for low price” offers. And also, being suggested to buy an Iron Maiden or Megadeth album because of having purchased Slipknot, Caliban, Machine Head and As I lay dying doesn’t really help. Google play suggested a band called Emmure and another band called Dr. Living Dead which both I had never even heard of before but which I found to be an awesome addition to my collection. Google also hit me up with Bring me the horizon and Heaven shall burn and while I knew those bands before, the recommendation fit and were not off like amazon’s. Maybe this is too much of a challenge for the likely more everyday-music-oriented-mass-sellers-recommendations-algorithm, but I feel this could be done better on amazon.

But to me, the best feature of both shops is the free preview of the music you can buy. You can listen to every freaking song for 30s on amazon, for even up to 90s (depending on song length) on google play. I mean, that was the reason for downloading music from obscure websites for years – wanting to verify we like the music before paying for it. Being recommended music that at least roughly fits the type of music you like and then even being able to give those songs a try and buy them with just a few clicks – I have to admit, that’s pretty damn awesome and will likely cost me a lot of money in the future.

So, call me a hipster, but this new way of trying, buying and listening to music is something I really quickly got used to. I still download the music to my devices and don’t use all the cloud bullshit though :p


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