If you were to look through my iTunes library a couple years ago, you would have found a collection that pretty well represented my musical tastes.  Lots of electronic music, film soundtracks, rock from throughout the decades, and, of course, the complete works of Radiohead.  Nowadays, when I look through iTunes it’s like looking at some sort of historical record of a past civilization. The reason? In a word, Spotify.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Spotify is basically a music streaming service similar to Pandora or Rdio. However, the great thing about Spotify is you choose exactly what you want to listen to rather than letting some computerized algorithm choose for you.  While I do like Pandora occasionally when I’m in the mood to discover new music, I usually prefer to build my own playlists song-by-song. Plus, Spotify has its own equivalent of the “stations” offered by Pandora, so it will choose music for you if you know you just want to hear 90’s R&B, for example, but don’t have specific songs in mind.

Now for the bottom line: Spotify is totally free…with the occasional ad. You can pay $10 to get rid of the ads, which also gives you other features as well. One of my favorites is that you can make songs available for offline playing, which downloads them to your device and makes them available even if you’re not connected to the internet. This is especially handy when you’re in an area that doesn’t have Wi-Fi because streaming high-fidelity music will certainly take a big chunk out of your cellular data plan.

And perhaps my favorite feature of Spotify: Taylor Swift has pulled all of her music from the service so you won’t have to risk getting her angsty but oh-so-catchy diary entries stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

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