Monday, August 13, 2012

Top Five Music Apps.

So, you’ve just gotten a smartphone (Not that anyone’s calling your old phone dumb; It was probably quite astute for being 5 years old...) and you need some apps.  I’ve compiled a list of most of my favorite music apps that are available for both A’s: Android and Apple.

DISCLAIMER: Make sure you have the data available for all except #2 (and #2 will use a bunch of data if your music is stored in iTunes Match)--most of these apps will suck up a 200MB plan in a measly few hours of streaming music set on higher quality bitrates.

#1- PANDORA (free): First and foremost, you must to have Pandora.  It is the most easily accessible music app ever.  All you do after downloading is type in the name of an artist, composer, or song that you like and you will then have a radio station tailored to that artist/composer/song.  Then, you “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” tracks as you go along to further tailor your station.

#2- GROOVE 2 ($1.99 for Apple only): Ok, I lied about all the apps being available for both A’s.  I realllly like Groove, though, so you need to know about it if you have an iOS device, and hopefully someday it will be available for Android as well.  This app syncs with the music on your phone (so it’s no good if you don’t have any music uploaded to either your phone or iTunes Match) and creates playlists based on your music.  Some of the great featured playlists: Artist Duos play two artists back to back, Three of a Kind plays three songs each from an artist (remember Block Parties on the radio back in the day?) and Groovy Mixes are smart mixes of songs that go well together (works much more consistently than iTunes’ not-so-Genius: there, I SAID it!).  The app also tags your music so you can play by genre.  There’s even a Surprise Me button if you don’t want to think at ALL, which is especially helpful for short work commutes...because, we all know you can’t drive in freakin’ silence! This app is TOTALLY worth the $2. 

#3- SPOTIFY ($9.99/mo subscription): I have touted the virtues of Spotify’s on-demand music subscription service before. Being 10 bucks a month, it’s obviously not for everyone.  However, if you like listening to anything you want whenever and wherever you want without having to own any music, this is pure bliss.  Just make sure you have the data plan to stream or the space on your phone to download playlists before you leave the comfort of your own WiFi.  They’ve recently added a radio feature that operates similar to Pandora that’s actually surprisingly compelling.

#4- SONGZA (free): This is a really cool new playlist app.  Download this app now before they get too big and start charging.  The way the playlists work is time-sensitive.  For example, I’m writing this on a Monday evening.  When I tap into the app it says “It’s Monday night.  Play music for: Bedtime, Love and Romance, Unwinding After a Long Day, or Work or Study.”  When I choose “Work or Study” it gives genre options and I choose “Electronic”.  Finally, there are three playlists to choose from that are electronic ambient stations to melt into the background while I’m working/studying (I chose “Electronic Study: IDM” in case you’re wondering).  How cool is that?  In the morning, the playlist options will be different (such as “Morning Commute” or “Waking Up”), but you can also bypass the time of day and pick from a list of activities or favorite playlists.  The selection of genres and playlists are really varied and I’ve actually discovered some cool new music (Hello, Moderat, I think I fancy you!) from this app.  Seriously, get it now before they start charging $5 for it or something.

#5- SOMAFM ($4 for app, or free from I’ve also peddled the infinite goodness of somafm before within these pages. is a San Franciso-based internet radio conglomerate with a lot of really cool (mostly electronic and chill music, though they do have some other genres; check them out online before shelling out the 4 bucks) radio stations.  They are commercial-free and donation-based, so if you like them, support them!  I like to send them $10 every once in awhile, just to show I care.  My favorite station on SomaFM is the very ambient “Drone Zone”.  I usually play it  when getting ready for bed at night.
The above list is a great music app starter-kit, whether you’re just starting out in the smartphone world or recently learning to love the beautiful plethora of music apps out there in this gorgeous electronic universe of ours.