Streaming Music

A few opening statements to sum up this very intense post:

  • It seems someone somewhere decided that Grey and Black are the best colours for music playing portals and software.
  • The Spotify experience is irreplicable.
  • Most online music portals believe since Africa invented the drum, we don’t need to stream music.
  • Last FM expect poor Africans to pay for the radio service, while keeping it free for rich Americans and Europeans.
  • Rdio, Pandora, Spotify,and Google Play do not consider Africa as a whole, a worthy market as yet, and simply do not function on the continent. (Except of course, if you are so intent on their services as to utilize tunnels and whatnot)
  • Rhapsody, MusicMonster, Jango, Deezer, Myspace (sic) do have an impressive catalogue of content. But my criteria for sampling the sites was a search for the amazing Simphiwe Dana. Most of the sites came up empty.
  • The only company,in my view,that is serious about global domination in the online music audio streaming business is Grooveshark.
  • Youtube‘s popularity is on a steep increase on the continent, and should be a clear indicator of better internet speeds and the potential of online audio streaming services.


I am passionate about music. One of the most pleasurable interactions with music Toshi and I have had is with Spotify. In my sojourn across the US, my companion, my baby laptop Toshi experienced an music like never before.

Last FM, to me, was the precursor to the Spotify era. Once upon a time, Last FM was it. unlike Myspace, Last FM had access to weird, obscure, supercool content that one just could not get anywhere else on the internet. They still do. But Last FM stubbornly refuse to adapt(or have decided that a small niche of paying clients is sufficient as a model)

Flash foward, 2013, and we find Spotify sitting pretty at the top of the streaming music chain. Spotify’s desktop plus web application just blew me away. The interactive and responsive way in which it brought related content, crowdsourced similar artists, playlists, the depth of exploration and even the ads, redefined radio.Here was one app that I was willing to hand my Facebook account detail, carte blanche. I was listening to stuff deeper into my genres and finding out that there was so much more music out there than I knew.

A hop and a step later, I was back in the motherland…and I was notified that I was “roaming”. I continued to enjoy the unmatched experience in music exploration and curation. A few weeks later, I was notified that my roaming period was over, and if I wished to continue enjoying the world of music I had become accustomed to, I would have to go premium.

There has to be a better way, I told myself. I tried downloading I.P blockers,( HideMyIP) so as to mask my location,  even tried software that allocates US I.Ps. The geniuses at Spotify were having none of that. All that happened was I was notified of a service error and the darned thing just refused to work. It let me keep the application and play the music on my local disk,but the online magic was barred from me.

Winamp, my former music player, had served me well. Winamp is one application, despite getting AOL dollars and funding, were unable to properly implement the online radio,rights,streaming and interactivity component of the whole audio ecosystem, which left them as strictly an application for playing music stored locally, in spite of their having pioneered some aspects of streaming.

In deep frustration I went on a search for Spotify killers and found a few contenders:

  1. Rdio
  2. Pandora
  3. Rhapsody
  4. Jango
  5. Grooveshark
  6. MOG
  7. Deezer

Now, lets start with the simple fact that Rdio,Pandora and MOG immediately flag one with that idiotic message:



Rhapsody,Deezer,Jango work but with a catalogue that will be sufficient for the casual listener but would suck for the truly explorative and the music junkie.

That leaves Grooveshark. Grooveshark is beautiful. Despite being purely online, without the desktop- plus-playlist-plus-local-plus-advertisement feel of Spotify (Which is a lot, and I write this in hindsight, as I have kind of forgotten how awesome Spotify is, coz I tried Grooveshark the day I had to delete Spotify , tried it once and once only and never went back coz at the time it couldn’t match up) Grooveshark offers the deepest catalogue I have experienced so far.

As stated, the amazing Simphiwe Dana was the test artist. The portal that would have her content in its entirety would pass my test. Jango came up with nothing. Rhapsody’s result was half baked. Deezer had a couple of songs but with limited album art and discography that made it seem like random uploads with improper rights.

Did I forget to mention that, despite wowing us with amazing localization on Youtube, Google Play for Audio is not yet available in my region?

Granted, Google Play, basing off  the success of Youtube, will be a huge threat to Spotify if it can match the offline experience on the desktop.

But if you are in Africa, the only people attending to you are Grooveshark.

GO Grooveshark!



One thought on “Streaming Music

  1. Thank you for the review. I was unaware of the international barriers until I got dropped in Costa Rica from video viewing. Local residents informed me they had no restrictions. Wouldn’t it be lovely if all communication links were gratis through out the land? We spend money to communicate with the Universe (& ETs) but can’t extend to planent earth. What is this about?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s