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Pandora, Itunes Radio, and XM
Old 02-17-2014, 08:10 PM   #1
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Pandora, Itunes Radio, and XM

I've been a Pandora listener for several years now and really enjoy the music they play. I voted for the songs I liked and disliked when I first started using it, and now I find that it really knows what songs I like and plays them consistently. If I don't like a song, a quick "thumbs down" vote makes it go away forever. How convenient is that?

I recently started listening to iTunes Radio. I get to listen commercial free because I was already an iTunes Match customer, so I get to avoid the commercials. The music is good, but it just isn't quite as good for me as Pandora. I find Pandora plays a lot more live or alternate versions, where iTunes plays the typical radio version of the hits, the same versions we've heard many times on the radio.

As for XM, I don't get where they are going. I have the XM hardware in both of our cars. I pay them $43.00 per year for the navigation traffic feeds, but otherwise I have no interest in listening to their channels. I don't care much for their music, and if I don't like a song they are playing, my only choice is to switch stations. There is no "thumbs down" button to skip to the next song. Their technology wasn't built to do that.

I guess this is all on my mind because my XM renewal just came due. My partner still likes it in his car, and he doesn't adopt to new technologies all that quickly. I showed him all the radio stations he can get for free using an iPhone, but he still wanted XM. The renewal bill for his radio was $160 for the XM Radio Select package, plus $43 for the traffic, so over $200 per year. Seems crazy to me.

So I go through my annual ritual of calling XM, waiting to speak with someone from India, telling them I want to cancel, and then getting the offers for the discounts to keep me as a customer. It took me 40 minutes to work through it, but eventually I got the price down on his radio to $80.00 per year, inclusive of the traffic. From $200 to $80, but 40 minutes of my time I'll never get back.

I just don't see where XM is going from here. It seems to have very little competitive advantage over the Iphone/Android apps, most of which are free anyway, and can be customized to play the songs you like.

What is everyone doing for their audio streaming these days? Am I the only one that thinks XM is just a huge waste of money and a dying product technology?
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:24 PM   #2
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Nope, I am on board with you. I used to have Sirius XM but discontinued it after discovering Pandora. I listen to Pandora on my phone while running, hook it up in my car while driving and stream it through my speakers when at home. If it wasn't for Howard Stern I think XM would already be gone.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ready View Post
I've been a Pandora listener for several years now and really enjoy the music they play. I voted for the songs I liked and disliked when I first started using it, and now I find that it really knows what songs I like and plays them consistently. If I don't like a song, a quick "thumbs down" vote makes it go away forever. How convenient is that?

I recently started listening to iTunes Radio. I get to listen commercial free because I was already an iTunes Match customer, so I get to avoid the commercials. The music is good, but it just isn't quite as good for me as Pandora. I find Pandora plays a lot more live or alternate versions, where iTunes plays the typical radio version of the hits, the same versions we've heard many times on the radio.

As for XM, I don't get where they are going. I have the XM hardware in both of our cars. I pay them $43.00 per year for the navigation traffic feeds, but otherwise I have no interest in listening to their channels. I don't care much for their music, and if I don't like a song they are playing, my only choice is to switch stations. There is no "thumbs down" button to skip to the next song. Their technology wasn't built to do that.

I guess this is all on my mind because my XM renewal just came due. My partner still likes it in his car, and he doesn't adopt to new technologies all that quickly. I showed him all the radio stations he can get for free using an iPhone, but he still wanted XM. The renewal bill for his radio was $160 for the XM Radio Select package, plus $43 for the traffic, so over $200 per year. Seems crazy to me.

So I go through my annual ritual of calling XM, waiting to speak with someone from India, telling them I want to cancel, and then getting the offers for the discounts to keep me as a customer. It took me 40 minutes to work through it, but eventually I got the price down on his radio to $80.00 per year, inclusive of the traffic. From $200 to $80, but 40 minutes of my time I'll never get back.

I just don't see where XM is going from here. It seems to have very little competitive advantage over the Iphone/Android apps, most of which are free anyway, and can be customized to play the songs you like.

What is everyone doing for their audio streaming these days? Am I the only one that thinks XM is just a huge waste of money and a dying product technology?
For me Sirrius/XM is a big waste. I did the dance as you did and got the price to around $4/month. I found I was only listening to the same stations, and they would repeat every couple of days (I think I have most of their collection on CD anyways). So this last time around I just let it die, haven't missed it at all...
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:44 PM   #4
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Agree that SiriusXM sucks.
Same issue with my spouse wanting to keep it for her car. I said "forget about it"and simply didn't renew LoL. Now I gotta set her up with Pandora. I think she will really like it.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:45 PM   #5
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Big Pandora fan here. Been listening for free for a couple years. I started paying the monthly rate about four months ago. Felt it was a good deal and more importantly I felt that it was the right thing to do as they were supplying a really good product that I enjoyed.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:28 AM   #6
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My new car came with 3 month of free XM. I only listen to comedy programs and they begin to repeat. Most comedies are not funny anyway. People must be drunk out of their mind to laugh at some of those. There are few that are really funny but after 2nd time, they are no longer funny. I will not be signing up for paid XM after the 3 months are up.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:06 AM   #7
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Nope, I am on board with you. I used to have Sirius XM but discontinued it after discovering Pandora. I listen to Pandora on my phone while running, hook it up in my car while driving and stream it through my speakers when at home. If it wasn't for Howard Stern I think XM would already be gone.
+1 XM came with a free trial in my car but I'd rather listen to Pandora. Can't justify the $$ for XM (even when they beg me with discounts!). XM was great when that's all there was; Pandora is a better alternative.

As much as I hate subscriptions, I gladly pay Pandora the $36 a year because it's worth it and it's the fair thing to do. I've also bought two nice Bluetooth speakers for the boat and yard and hook Pandora up there too. XM would charge me for each receiver!
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:13 AM   #8
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I confess, I have a "dumb" phone so can't stream Pandora, but LOVE my XM radio. I am sure, like most technology I simply don't use it fully, but to be able to listen to a single station as I travel down I-81 for hours at a time is wonderful. Changing stations is not a big deal, and if there is something I'm not crazy about on my Jazz station I switch to Classic Rock, Symphony, or the Alternative Rock station my kids have gotten me into. With our place in the mountains we lose phone service, but rarely do we lose XM. As to the traffic channels, I have not missed them since they started charging more for them and we dropped that feature. I need it for cities I rarely go through, to try to plan my route of attack, but find the people hard to understand and the roads they reference unfamiliar, so it was pretty useless. And the few times I recognized what they were saying, but was already committed to a path, I found that the dire predictions were overblown or already dissipated, even though they were still talking about it.

I like channel surfing and discovering new styles. How do I get exposed to new music if Pandora is constantly feeding me what I know I already like? I don't want technology designed to get me into a rut.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:35 AM   #9
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Surprised no one has mentioned Spotify.

They let you build lists of the exact songs you want (vs. thumbs up/down). You can replay, skip, go back a few lines very easily.

The no ad, play the exact songs you want version in your car does cost $10/month but you can build your exact playlist on your home computer for no cost which has ads.

Works well for me since I pretty much listen to podcasts on Stitcher in the car or sports radio and listen to most music while I'm in my office.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:57 AM   #10
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In the house, I love Pandora. When at my computer I'm either listening to Pandora or sometimes SomaFM: Listener Supported, Commercial Free Internet Radio - I like their canned mix of music.

I don't have an unlimited data plan for my phone, so no Pandora on the go. In my car I love good ol' fashioned FM for a couple of good college & public radio stations. I listen to NPR a lot in the car. That, and I have a flash drive with my music collection of over 10,000 songs on it that's always plugged into my car radio.

I had a free trial period of Sirius XM with my new car and never liked it. I much prefer ordinary FM radio. (Actually I think most radio stations are cr@p but I get a few really good stations around here too).
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:50 AM   #11
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I don't use any of them regularly, but Pandora when I do. However, our favorite local (independent) coffee shop has Pandora playing at all times. Even though the staff is all less than half our age, we like almost everything they play even though we don't know what half of it is. We like hearing new music. They have a well honed like/dislike list developed over years and various staff - I wish I could just copy their like/dislike history (can I?).
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:16 AM   #12
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If S/XM was priced like netflix ($8/mo, two streams) I'd pay it. Although the toyota is S, and the Honda is XM. I can't for the life of me understand why they haven't unified the channel lists.

I know I could achieve that price by playing let's make a deal every six months, but I have enough things to do.

I use Pandora at home, though only sporadically so I don't pay.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:58 AM   #13
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+1 on Spotify. I was an early adopter of XM and had it for years. When we were between our house and weekend place it was the only signal we could get. Then we discovered Pandora and enjoyed that for a while.

Spotify is the knockout winner. Play exactly what you want ... songs, entire records, or enjoy the Pandora style radio. You can also download music for when you are without service. It is proprietary technology though and will play downloaded tunes only as long as you remain a member.

Hear someone recommend a great new record? You can be listening to the whole thing within 10 seconds.

For $10 per month, my two thousand LPs and 1000 CDs are 98% obsolete.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:33 AM   #14
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Have been sampling Spotify for a few weeks now with the free version just to try. My cell provider just doubled our data for no extra cost so I can pretty much stream at will in the car without blowing our data quota.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:43 AM   #15
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I like Pandora. I am allowed to stream it at work. No radios, so this is a good option for me. I just figured out the thumbs up/down to be able to tailor the music some. I use the free version and just tolerate the ads, less intrusive than radio ads!

I need to get higher data plan and start using it in the car. I only use when hooked up to internet through computer now.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:54 AM   #16
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I have more than enough music here already to last me the rest of my life, in the form of a large-ish CD collection that I have been transferring to hard drive for the last few years. I also like to listen to music intelligently presented by hosts (as opposed to mindless "liner-jocks"), for which I listen to BBC Radio 6 on my stand-alone internet radio. It's programmed for my demographic - a 50 year-old British guy with a taste for rock/pop. For news, current affairs and other talk, I listen to BBC Radio 4. From time to time, I "spin the dial" on the internet radio and catch a bit of programming from somewhere else on the globe. The only terrestrial station I listen to is KALX, the college station that comes from the campus of UC Berkeley.

I have tried Spotify a few times but most of the stuff I'd want to listen to, I already have on CD or hard drive and for the few songs I don't have, I can find them on YouTube if I need to "scratch the itch" to hear a song that came into my head. Haven't tried Pandora or XM/Sirius.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:01 PM   #17
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Don't drive much, so random music from my 3000 MP3's keeps us contented on the road.
DirecTV provides continuous music by 84 different genre... Listen mostly to Traditional (old) Country, Bluegrass, Light Classical and Beautiful Instrumentals.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:10 PM   #18
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Pandora is okay, but Spotify is better, at least for us. For $4.99/month, we get access to an unbelieveable amount of music, free of ads (on our PC and laptop). If you want to listen to it on your mobile phone, I think the cost is a bit higher, but we don't do that. I could listen to Spotify for a lifetime and still not be exposed to a fraction of the songs that they have. And, you can customize it to your listening preferences, similar to Pandora.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:30 PM   #19
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+1 on Spotify. ...

For $10 per month, my two thousand LPs and 1000 CDs are 98% obsolete.
But my LPs and CDs don't cost me ANYTHING per month.

More seriously, I have been very disappointed with the depths of the playlists on any of these musical services for my (admittedly unpopular) tastes in music. Baroque opera, anyone? French harpsichord music? Bob Wills and other western swing? Yodeling cowboys? Bach Cantatas?

Perhaps things will change for the better, but for now I am MUCH better off with my collection.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:02 PM   #20
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I've seen a few comments on cell phone data usage with Pandora and similar apps. I have a 4GB data plan on my cell phone, and I check every month to see how much I use. I have never exceeded 1GB, and I listen to Pandora every day on my walks and driving in the car. And I use my phone for email, web browsing, and other typical data stuff. I know some people have very limited data plans, but if you have at least 1GB available to you each month, I would be surprised if Pandora usage would push you over the limit.

I don't pay for the premium subscription. It's only $4.00/month, but the ads seems to go by fairly quickly, so I figure why bother.
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