Saturday, 5 December 2015

Music streaming sucks - Winter 2015 edition

Some of you may remember that about half a year ago I wrote a rather lengthy rant about music streaming. The bottom line was: "I go back to buying music."

So far, I didn't change my mind and was quite happy to buy albums as carefully selected as before.

Having said that, it seems a bit as if the major streaming providers are trying hard not to earn any money from customers: Next to the albums I am happily purchasing through classic distribution channels as well as some online stores which sell (Hi-Res) FLAC files, I continue to enjoy streaming without paying a dime so far.
First, I received a mail from my friends at TIDAL, indicating how sad they were to see me leave the service and they are happy to give me another 3 months for free, in which I may consider staying with them.
Then there was a Chromecast offer to test Deezer premium for 3 months. From my last posting it was clear that I had not tested Deezer so far. So I saw this as a good opportunity to test the service and compare it to the ones I have been using for the last two years. So, after two months of using Deezer almost daily, here is my review:
  • Summary: Run away!!! Of all services I tested until today, this is by far the worst overall experience.
  • Noteworthy pros
    • They recognise how important non-music elements can be for a portfolio: There is a recommendation system in pace for audiobooks, which I appreciate very much. Also they offer live streaming (audio only) of Bundesliga matches, which my lady appreciates.
    • It streams to Chromecast.
  • Noteworthy cons
    • Playlist management is barely existent. It is so bad in fact that my current hypothesis is that they want the users from maintaining playlists. This is actually understandable, because if you don't have any playlists, you don't notice the volatility of the content catalogue (which is still my main point why streaming in general sucks).
    • The Apps (Android, iOS) are the worst kind of software engineering that I have seen for years. Spontaneous bluetooth disconnects, playing different songs than displayed on the UI, displaying "Pause" mode when something is in fact playing are totally normal. Offline content is totally dysfunctional: There is even a "repair file" entry in the context menu because downloading files for offline use is so broken that more often than not skips and holes disturb enjoying the downloaded files. Of course, you do not notice this before you are in a train without internet connection, which is why you downloaded the album in the first place. Apparently, the Deezer dev team never heard of checksums before, as this would help to ensure that a downloaded file isn't corrupt.
  • Summary repeated: Run away!!! Of all services I tested until today, this is by far the worst overall experience.
Next test in the line: Spotify just offered free 3 months premium testing since it now supports streaming to Chromecast as well.
It seems, the streaming providers really do not want any money from us these days ...

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