The enthusiast's audio webzine

Trying Music Before You Buy, the 21st Century Way

When it comes to spending money, I’m quite the penny-pincher.  It’s the reason I rarely buy a CD immediately upon release (Adele’s 21 being the recent exception). I used to count on my local station to play enough tracks to help me in making a decision, but since I only listen for 30 minutes a day anymore, no help there.  In the past few years I’ve tried using the artists’ websites, but most have gone to a short sample that doesn’t tell me enough to make a decision.  Therefore I waited, relying upon the recommendations of friends before dropping the cash on the counter.

I’ve never bought a song off the iTunes store as I just detest the sound of lossy recordings.  Between the lost musical information and the brittle-sounding remnants, I am left emotionally detached.  After all, music is all about triggering emotional response, hopefully positive in most situations.  It’s the underlying reason why we select certain music at different moments; it’s a reflection, or in other cases a motivation to deal with the situation at hand.

But I digress. In late January I became fixated on the group The Decemberists, a group that I found intriguing but never found the motivational level to really explore.  The buzz about their new album The King Is Dead was reaching a national level.  Besides, I wanted hear more about what this locally (for me) group was accomplishing.  With that in mind, I finally gave in and set up a Pandora Radio account – much to the surprise of my students and the music teacher who assumed that I would have been one of the first thousand to have signed up.

Within five minutes during a lunch break I had The Decemberists selected and was enjoying their music every three songs or so.  Within a week, I was convinced that I should invest my tightly-controlled entertainment dollars on a vinyl version of  The King Is Dead.  But the story doesn’t end there. With the wonderful new tool of Pandora Radio at my finger tips, I began discovering and rediscovering other artists whose music  I found myself enjoying and setting up as “stations.”  Most are acoustic rock or jazz, but after reading the fine piece in TONEAudio on Motörhead I decided to educate myself.  The result was ear-opening to say the least!

Since setting up Pandora, I’ve purchased several CDs and a couple of albums.  This is a significant jump in spending for me and is an example of the value that Pandora can offer to  the industry.  Even if buyers go to Amazon and iTunes for just a single MP3 file, it’s done its job.  Artists should assist Pandora in expanding its capability to include linking to the artists’ websites and listing concert dates and locations. This way the music industry can harness and generate income for the artists. In the end, it’s all about the music, right?

In a followup article, I’ll look into other options for evaluating new music.


[Editor’s note: Pandora Radio is not accessible from outside the United States “due to licensing constraints.”]

Image acknowledgement

The image shown on the home page for this article and reproduced below in full was obtained from the Wikimedia Commons.

Tibetan musical score

Tibetan musical score from the 19th century

Readers' comments

    And perhaps the internationally available Paradise Radio


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