The manner in which we listen to music is changing at a lightning fast pace. The dawn of the smartphone age and the arrival of the Samsung GALAXY Note II have heralded huge shifts. And not just from popping on CDs to listening to MP3s.
No, this is the age of the streaming service. What with the advent of Spotify in 2008, followed by its superb Android app, streaming became the easy way to access millions of songs for free on an ad-supported model, or for a small monthly fee.
And already, rivals from the likes of Rdio, Deezer and big names including Google, are looking to disrupt the space. So, where is mobile music heading?
Spotify leads the merry dance
Spotify continues to lead the way in mobile music thanks to a great app which breezily syncs desktop playlists with your GALAXY Note II. The app looks spectacular on the phone's generous display and it's loaded with social functions too. That means you can easily share tracks via Facebook, Twitter and email.
There's a rather splendid recommendation engine too, which means you can find and listen to bands that sound similar to those you've got playlisted.
The app itself is free, but to access Spotify on-the-move you need to have a Premium membership, which comes in at £9.99 a month (there's free 30-day trial to give you a taster). For access to all those tunes it has to be worth it.
Play Music on, err, Play Music
Thanks to Google Android, the GALAXY Note II can take advantage of a very different, not to mention free, music streaming service: Google's own Play Music platform.
While Spotify is all about firing up old any track that crosses your mind, Play Music is focused on playing tunes that you own, over the cloud. Initially, that requires you to upload your library to Google's servers.
Fear not, though, as Google offers room for up to 20,000 songs without charging you a penny. From there it's simply a case of loading up the Play Music app on your phone and playing tunes from your personal collection while you're out-and-about. Music you buy from Google's Play Store will automatically sync with your Play Music library too.
Last.fm the big spenders
Alternatively, you can snag the Last.fm app for your GALAXY Note II for free and use it to listen to web radio directly.
The whole concept of radio streaming is becoming big business right now, with Spotify offering a radio package based on tunes you have in your library. Both that and Last.fm offer a great way to discover heaps of new music.
Can Rdio knock Spotify off its streaming throne?
Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments in mobile music at the moment is the recent arrival of Rdio. A huge success in the United States, this service is similar in its breadth and ambition to Spotify. The emphasis here is on accessing millions of tunes and albums rather than using a radio service or streaming your own tunes via the cloud.
Like Spotify, it costs £9.99 a month to use Rdio's mobile package, but its Android app looks the part on the GALAXY Note II and is (whisper it!) perhaps a bit more intuitive and ever-so-slightly snappier than its Swedish rival.
Deezer for the geezers
If neither Spotify or Rdio appeal, but you still want a paid for streaming package, there are alternatives. French service Deezer is becoming increasingly popular and has one small advantage over Rdio: a 15-day free trial of its mobile app.
That should whet your appetite for snagging as much music as you can muster before handing them £9.99 a month for the privilege of accessing their vast database.
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