Way back in 1887, a bright young lad named Thomas Edisson revolutionised music when he built the first phonograph. At that time, the only way to hear music was to attend a live performance, and the phonograph spawned an entire industry that has since grown by leaps and bounds: radio, spool tapes, casette tapes, CDs, and finally, the bane of the copyright-driven industry, the MP3.
The latest revolution in the music industry happened 11 years ago, when Apple’s Steve Jobs launched the online iTunes store and got leading music companies to sell singles on the store for 99 cents each.
Things have come a long way since, though. People no longer download much of their music, preferring to stream music – an area where Apple is still struggling, and is reportedly trying to buy Beats Electronics to gain toehold in the space.
But streaming demands reliable Internet coverage, a scenario which is till Utopian in India, where downloads still rule. So let us look at some options to catch music offline.
iTunes is still a go to source for music, with songs in various languages that start at as little as Rs. 8 per number. You buy a song, and it is yours to download. It is stored on the remote Internet server, and you can download it to new devices with your account. The seamlessness of choosing songs and the ability to buy a single song (rather than a whole album) has made iTunes the biggest music store in the world. Of course, it only works on the iOS Platform, apart from Windows PCs.
Every week, iTunes gives away a free track, which helps build a music library, but otherwise, it does cost money.
Saavn is free for the mobile phone, and works both on Android and iOS platforms, but needs you to be connected to the Internet. If you want to download songs, you need to upgrade to Saavn Pro, which costs Rs. 110 per month per device, and Rs. 220 per month for unlimited devices.
You can store up to 1GB and 3 GB of songs respectively. The day your subscription lapses, you can no longer play the downloaded music files.
Gaana also offers paid subscription, and costs roughly Rs. 240 a month. Gaana claims its songs have slightly higher bit rate, hence give greater fidelity, but this does not seem to be true for all songs in their library. They too have an Android and an iOS App, and do not limit number of devices or number of songs downloaded. We have found that some songs are exclusively available on Gaana and some exclusively on Saavn. So it finally boils down to your taste in music.
But all these cost money. What about if you want to listen to music free?
Sony Jive (only on Sony XPeria phones)
This is the place to go if you want music for free. The Sony Jive app for the XPeria phones have 1.5 million songs, including Bollywood, regional and international songs. The app also works on Sony Vaio PCs.
The latest Xperia, the Z2, can help you stream music as well as download it. But yes, there is a catch --- it is free only for the first six months. After that you have to pay for the tracks you retain. That may be an expensive alternative even for hardcore music buffs.
Nokia Mix Radio (only on Nokia phones)
Nokia Mix Radio has 13 million songs, and you can do whatever you like with them — put them in playlists, download them, whatever. The service is free for three months in the premium Lumia Windows phones and the budget Asha phones, beyond which you pay Rs. 99 per month or Rs. 250 for three months.
But if you buy a Nokia X Series Android phone, the service is free for your lifetime. The song stays on your phone for 3 months, and if you want it again you can download it. What a way to push a budget phone!