Buying digital music

Do you buy music online? If not, you should. CDs are on their way out, and digital music is the future. All you need is storage space on your computer, nice speakers or headphones, and an MP3 player. The three best places to get digital music are:

  • Amazon: Generally the cheapest option. Plus, they will store your purchases on their servers which you can listen to via their mobile app.
  • iTunes: If you use iTunes already, this is the easiest option as it automatically downloads purchases into your library.
  • Google Play: Like Amazon, Google will store thousands of your songs on their servers so you can listen via their mobile app or website.

Make your music collection portable

music notesWant to bring your music collection wherever you go, but don’t have enough room on your phone to store it? Need to access your library on another computer? There are a few cloud services out there that allow you to upload your music library to their servers and then listen to it on-the-go, as long as you have an internet/data connection.

Google PlayStore up to 20,000 songs for free.

Amazon MP3 Store & Cloud PlayerAll Amazon purchases and the first 250 imported songs are free, or you can import up to 250,000 songs for $24.99/year.

iTunes MatchStore your entire library on iCloud for $24.99/year.

* Remember that listening to your library over a data connection on your phone WILL drain the battery and use a lot of data. It’s best to do this if your phone is plugged in and you have an unlimited data plan.

Discover your own iTunes Library

iTunes Genius menuIf you’re like me, you have a huge iTunes library and often forget what’s in there. iTunes Genius is a great feature that helps you rediscover your own music. It’s kind of like your own radio station. Just choose a song you’d like to listen to, right-click on the song, and choose “Create Genius Playlist”. iTunes will generate a playlist of songs in the same genre as your chosen song. The default length is 25 songs, but you can tell it to choose as many as 100 songs using the drop-down menu under the playlist title.

Prevent iTunes from auto-playing videos on shuffle

Do you ever listen to your iTunes library on shuffle only to have a music video pop-up instead of a song? Here is a simple hack to allow a seamless music listening experience.

  1. Go to File > New > Smart Playlist
  2. Change “Artist” to “Media Kind”. Then it should read “is Music”
  3. Click OK

You’ll see a new Smart Playlist in the left column. You can rename it if you like. Since it’s a “Smart” Playlist, it will automatically add new audio files anytime you add new songs to your library. Next time you want to listen to your library on shuffle, just play this playlist instead and you will avoid obnoxious video pop-ups!

Listen to music for free

I like to preview an album before I buy it. Websites like Grooveshark and Spotify allow you to “stream” music-–to listen to it in your web browser without downloading any files. Grooveshark is completely free but doesn’t have a huge selection. Spotify has a wider selection, but requires you to either pay a monthly fee or listen to ads every few songs. Either way, make sure to support the artists you like and buy their albums!

Listening to podcasts

A podcast is an episodic series of video or audio files that are downloaded or streamed online. Think of it as a radio show that you can listen to/watch on your computer at any time. You can either listen directly on a website or subscribe to the Podcast through a Podcast client.

The easiest way to find and consume Podcasts is through iTunes. Go to the iTunes Store and click on the Podcasts category. Find a Podcast and either download episodes you want to listen to or subscribe to the whole show. When you subscribe, all new episodes will automatically be downloaded to your computer when they are released.

If you don’t have iTunes there are plenty of other podcast clients available.

My favorite podcasts are This American Life (NPR) and WTF with Marc Maron.