Bullish on music streaming

Sat Jul 5, 2014

When Google Play Music All Access finally came to Canada I was overjoyed. I’d been waiting for an opportunity to jump into the streaming scene and the introductory $8 a month deal sealed the deal for me. Rdio is the other excellent streaming service available in Canada, but costs $10 a month.

With the unlimited data plan I have with WIND Mobile, I now have unfettered access to millions of songs on demand. It’s, quite frankly, amazing.

If you’d told me about the streaming future of music 20 years ago, I would have admitted that the very idea of such musical riches was pure madness and would never have entered my mind (except maybe through science fiction novels). My entire musical world consisted of listening to my dad’s scratched Jimmy Hendrix records and learning the fine art of cutting out the DJ’s annoying intro when recording music off the radio onto cassette tapes.

After signing up for All Access, I was initially overwhelmed - when exploring new music, I would jump from album to album, sometimes rejecting the artist outright after a few seconds. I’ve since learned to give albums a solid listen before deciding whether I like them or not.

But this new mode of listening to music required some upgrades. Firstly, I had to ditch my aging second-gen iPod as the music hub of the home. Since my portable speaker only had an older iPod dock, I opted for a soundbar to beef up my TV sound as well as listen to music through Bluetooth. When ditching your MP3 and CD collection for streaming, Bluetooth is the key. I didn’t want to tie myself into Apple’s proprietary dock or rely on the auxiliary input. Bluetooth is a great platform agnostic protocol that compresses music at a perfectly acceptable quality. Regardless of whether I go with Android or Apple, I can stream music through my phone or iPad or whatever straight to the soundbar. It’s the way to go.

After upgrading my home system, I started resenting the lame factory stereo deck in my car that was limited to playing my aging CDs. So I installed a Bluetooth Stereo and the commute has never been better. Installing it myself was a fun project that entailed soldering a wiring harness and installing a mounting kit. For hands-free calling, I ran a wired microphone from the deck under the dash and window panels to my driver’s windshield visor. I hadn’t realized how easy it is to take a car’s dashboard apart (but don’t forget to disconnect the car battery first!).

I have no doubt that streaming services will eventually overtake physical media and traditional downloads, so I’m making an investment and going all in. When I was a kid, my musical repertoire was extensive, but over the years it got very narrow. Now I’m discovering all the great music I’ve missed out on over that last 20 years and I feel like that kid again, giddy about finding all the great music floating out there in the cloud.

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