vitne 2015

Music Streaming Services Compared - Fan and Artist Perspectives

Updated March 19, 2017

As both an artist and a music fan, I want to be on top of the whole streaming thing and find out which one I personally like best and why.

Here's a quick list of the services I've tried:

1.  Napster (aka. Rhapsody in the US)
2.  Apple Music
3.  Groove Music (Microsoft)
4.  Deezer
5.  Yandex Music
6.  Google Play Music
7.  Spotify
8.  Soundcloud
9.  YouTube

NAPSTER

Fan Perspective: It's pretty basic.  I've tried both the web player as well as the mobile app. What I like about it is that it generally just works.  It has a bit of a nostalgia factor for me, too, because I remember using the original Napster briefly when I was in high school.

Artist Perspective: The royalties received from Napster/Rhapsody are decent.

Apple Music

Fan Perspective: I had high hopes for Apple Music.  iTunes is massive and I was thinking something along the lines of "it is Apple, how likely is it that they will screw up?" Well, I think they kinda did.  The integration into iTunes is clunky and confusing on both desktop and iPhone and there is no web player. It is nice though how your library can contain both the music you purchased via iTunes as well as the streaming from Apple Music.

Artist Perspective: Free-trial royalties are awful. But paid-tier is pretty decent.


Groove

Fan Perspective: I had a Zune.  Yep, I did.  And I loved it.  I had that thing back in 2008, and I remember subscribing to the Zune Music Pass before streaming had really even been introduced.  It wasn't a "stream everywhere" thing, but instead a "download anything you want onto your Zune" thing.  I thought it was genius at the time, and excellent for testing out music.  Now, as Groove, and with the OneDrive integration, I'd have to say this service is really great. It has a good web player which also has access to any music you uploaded to your OneDrive, like stuff that's not released on streaming services, old releases, etc.  That's awesome.
Artist Perspective: Groove provides some of the highest royalties I've seen for streaming. Probably the highest I've seen, actually. Good job, Microsoft.


Deezer

Fan Perspective: It's pretty good. I like the web player, I've never tried the software or mobile app. But it's straight-forward and provides a social aspect similar to Spotify.

Artist Perspective: The royalties I've seen from Deezer are pretty low. I'm assuming these are from free-tier subscribers, but I haven't seen much above that.


Yandex Music

Fan Perspective: It's really good. It's in Russian (web player), but the mobile app is in English. I'm assuming that is if your phone settings are set to English. The app is really good, and just like Groove, you can upload your mp3 library to Yandex Disk, and it integrates with Yandex Music. Nice.

Artist Perspective: The royalties are pretty low, but you have to put this into perspective. This is a Russian streaming service, and royalties from any of the services there are lower from what I've seen. That being said, I like Yandex and I think they are doing good things. I want them to succeed, and it is a great service for promoting your music in Russian language countries.


Google Play Music

Fan Perspective: Pretty good webplayer. Never used the mobile app. Nothing really outstandingly different from the rest, but it's pretty nice.

Artist Perspective: Royalties from Google are higher than places like Deezer and Spotify. That's good in my book.


Spotify

Fan Perspective: The social aspect of Spotify is pretty cool, and no other service matches it. The only ones that come close are Rdio (which doesn't exist anymore) and Deezer. I like the ability to share custom playlists, and the software is good.

Artist Perspective: For the "market leader" their royalties are pretty sad, even for paid tier. Come on. Aside from paltry royalties, the artist tools are nice and far better than any other service, so that's a major plus.


Soundcloud

Fan Perspective: Soundcloud to me is like what Purevolume should have become. It seems like the natural progression of things like MP3.com, and perhaps Reverbnation. But discovering music on there is a nightmare. It is absolutely not comparable to "true" streaming services like all the ones above. I think the only good thing now is that artists and companies can host their music/podcasts with a nice, easily embeddable and playable widget.

Artist Perspective: Soundcloud likes to make it sound like you are getting a ton of good stuff for paying $9/mo as an artist. Unlimited downloads, in-depth stats. Maybe if you were Blink-182 the unlimited downloads would be good. The only thing good I think is the stats. But even then, you can just pay for one month, check out your stats, and then be done with it. Add in how they removed groups, and I'm becoming less and less interested in Soundcloud.


YouTube

Fan Perspective: I've found some great, unavailable gems on YouTube. YouTube is probably one of the best, if not the best, for actual music discovery. But as a streaming music service? No thank you.

Artist Perspective: I think it's best to realize that people use YouTube primarily for discovery. Sure, lots of people use it for listening too, but it's not really built for straight-up music listening like Spotify is, for example. The stats are extremely useful as well. I just wouldn't be too worried about royalties. If you want decent royalties for music videos specifically, I'd recommend opening a VEVO account, as they pay far more per video stream than YouTube.



FINAL VERDICT

Winner (Fan Perspective): Spotify

Why Spotify? The software is good, playlist sharing is excellent, a ton of people use the service, and discovery is pretty decent too. The social aspect is cool too.

Runner Up (Fan Perspective): Groove

It is the runner up because of the lack of good discovery options, like not listing "similar artists" for example, as well as the social aspect (though that's not a huge thing for me). I'd say that Groove, however, is far superior in terms of its integration with OneDrive. So this one overall was a tough call.

Winner (Artist Perspective): Groove

Groove wins here simply because of the royalty rate. I've had far more streams on Spotify than on Groove, but I've nonetheless received far more payout from Groove than Spotify.

Runner Up (Artist Perspective): Spotify

Even though royalties are pretty sad, Spotify probably hosts the largest subscriber base out of all the services. This is important as an artist, because you should probably be where the most people are. Plus Spotify provides artists with nice stats, the ability to customize your artist page, and more.

- Vitne

  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: Enlightened
  • Current Music: Who knows
vitne 2015

Answer for question 4559.

What people, things, and/or events have you been most thankful for in your life? What's a particular instance of kindness from someone that really made a difference in your life when you needed it? When someone does something nice for you, how much do you try to 'pay it forward' later on to someone else?
I'm thankful for my study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was a lifechanging experience. Absolutely loved it, and love the people, and the city!

Ever since, traveling has been very important to me in order to experience different places, learn new languages and culture.
vitne 2015

Loungin' Like There's No Tomorrow

I'm just chillin' today, having a good time off work. I actually decided to organize/manage my huge music collection. Man, it's been needing this for years.

In my iTunes, I have tons of songs, and thanks to changing computers over time, the organization has gone a little haywire. I remember I accidentally changed something like 3 CDs worth of Mandarin Chinese lessons into a band called "A" and then totally screwed up their whole section too. It's been like that for about 2 years.

So I went through and have just been deleting and reorganizing, adding album artwork that has been missing since forever, and it feels great. Album artwork is a really big thing for me. I really don't like listening to an album with just a blank square, it bothers me. The artwork is a major piece of the puzzle. I guess that's why I take my own music's artwork so seriously.

I've been listening to bands and albums I haven't listened to in years. A, Gob, New Found Glory, Lostprophets, Hoobastank, Home Grown, Larger Than Life.

Speaking of Larger Than Life, I have never been able to find their album "If Tomorrow Never Came" ANYWHERE. I remember way back in high school, when they were actually around, their album was on Interpunk. I've been kicking myself ever since for not buying it then. You can't find it, not even on Amazon.

Sometimes its great taking a day and just listening to music. Time machine back to high school? No problem, just throw on Blink 182 or something. College? Throw on some Winger.

Pretty cool how music can do that.
  • Current Location: Home
  • Current Mood: Relaxed
  • Current Music: Gob
vitne 2015

Goodbye Facebook. This Time, Maybe It's Forever.

This is a part of my few drastic moves to make my life better, a part of my back-to-basics approach.

I went on a digital detox kinda while I was traveling recently. I deactivated my personal Facebook.

After losing my iPhone, I noticed that I had been checking Facebook far too much. Was all of this actually important? Why did I care about other peoples' statuses whom I hadn't seen in person for 15 years?  Did all these 500 or so "friends" really matter significantly to me and my life?

Being connected is cool, and it feels good.  Yet while it is indeed nice to catch up with many of them every once in a while, I feel that being connected all the time to them may not actually be a good thing.  Do I really want all those people to know what I'm doing? Do I really need to know what they are doing?

I think this gives false impressions.

You know what I mean?

One gets the impression they actually know this other person through Facebook. Sure, they used to know them personally, back in high school or whatever. But now, all they see is the constant updates about their children. Or how beautiful their family is. Or how much their life sucks.

People paint a picture of what they want others to see. They don't paint the real picture.

OK, that's to be expected to a certain degree. If you are having troubles, you don't necessarily want to air them out to public. I get that. But what bothers me about all of this is that it seems like people feel like they know you when they actually don't.

It used to be that you got excited when people were coming back into town from a far-off college, or from living abroad. Now, because of Facebook primarily, people downplay it. Oh, no big deal.

Phone calls are few and far between. Emails? Forget about it. It's not instant.

Facebook used to be a fun place of college-only students back when I joined in 2004 or 2005.  I believe it was still TheFacebook then.  It was cool reconnecting with people and networking with classmates in college with you...but that novelty wore off years ago.

Or maybe I've just grown out of it.

You meet someone, they say "I'll friend you on Facebook" or something. It's almost expected. Oh, random outgoing person on the subway? Of course I want you to find me on Facebook and see my updates about my family....

It's like it has become better to accumulate a mass of "friends" on Facebook rather than making real, close friends in person.

It's a way to "keep tabs" on everyone else. Thus, many people then compare their own lives to others. This is far from healthy.

The only opinion that matters is your own. How are you doing in life? Are you happy?

Stop paying attention to the car that so-and-so just bought, or the house that so-and-so just bought, which they of course shared on Facebook. That doesn't matter. Life isn't a competition, is it?

I like to think of life as a dance...

Anyway...

Negativity. Facebook is a haven.

Comments sections are poison. Not all, but most. People get brave behind a screen. They are harsh and cruel, saying things they would never say in person. Yet, they feel the need to "speak their mind" or "tell it like it is" in the comments sections. Rarely is there a constructive discussion. It's mostly just flame wars from self-righteous assholes.

Sadly, some schools (ie. elementary, middle, etc) actually force parents to have a Facebook account and be part of a Facebook group to get school updates. What does that lead to? Naturally, some parents feel the need to air dirty laundry or state their opinions in really vague ways, stuff they would never say in person.

Summing it up:

It is nice to be connected with past friends and acquaintances, absolutely. But I believe it makes them feel like they know you, so when they actually do see you in person, its not really a big deal.

Personally, I'd rather see someone for the first time in years and have a great conversation with them, create a nice memory of meeting again, not just watch their "life" via Facebook.

This time, I'm truly considering just leaving for good.  Maybe I've just had a bad experience, but I've been on Facebook for at least 10 years. I've seen it transform. I think I'm ready to say goodbye.

I've already begun to be more productive. And I actually don't miss it.

One less distraction.  Good riddance.
  • Current Location: Home
  • Current Mood: satisfied satisfied
  • Current Music: Chrono Cross OST

Back to Basics

Sometimes you get too bogged down with everyday life and habits to think about whether those habits are actually helping you or not.

About 3 months ago I lost my coveted iPhone 6.  I loved that thing.  I did everything on it.  I was devastated.  I lost all my photos.  Luckily icloud had backed up the majority of them, but I lost all my photos from Disney World (at least those on my phone).  I was mostly sad about that.

I felt irresponsible.

I had a major sense of loss the first 2 days, and then suddenly...I felt liberated. I was finally broken from the spell.  I could see that this relationship wasn't good for me.  The constant buzzing and notifications from various apps like Facebook, Twitter, email, Facebook Messenger, AIM, WhatsApp, and eBay....  I was checking my phone all the damn time.  I was checking Facebook all the time, not really for long, but still just checking like maybe I was missing something.  I used to think being connected all the time was a plus, being able to get back to people ASAP via email, etc. I still look back and consider my usage pretty light in comparison to many, but I can see it was still quite detrimental.

I also started thinking about my smartphone camera habits.

I love my children and wife dearly and I love taking pictures.  Recently my brother sent me a Polaroid picture he found of me at about the same age as my daughter is now, sitting and smiling big for the camera with one of my favorite stuffed animals. That got me thinking. It was just that one photo. That one picture represents a portion of my childhood. And it was probably only that one shot, not the best of a series of 10 or so photos. That was special to me. Due to the convenience of a smartphone camera, were moments like that becoming less significant because of how often photos were being taken?

Boy did I do some reflection.




As I was traveling recently, I looked around at everybody around me. I'd say about 75% of people were on a smartphone. Most not looking around at all. It was sad. I thought hard about my own usage before losing my iPhone. Often I woke up and checked email immediately. Sometimes I had ignored my children. That made me upset.

I thought back to before I had ever gotten a smartphone. Things were simpler. You printed directions and you were prepared. You took a camera with you and took pictures sometimes when you thought they were special enough. You were you. You lived life.

Do people do that anymore?  Live and experience life?

People now seem to document life first. Its like they live in an alternate reality. On the phone and social networks all the time.  Real life is simply going through the motions, a physical vehicle.

I'm actually extremely sad I became anything close to this. That hurt. So, I thought hard about all of this, but I came to an easy decision.

No more. Things change now.

There's no more important moment in life than the one you are in right now. That's because you choose exactly what you will do right then and there. Will you be a good man?  Will you be a good daddy? Will this moment make you proud when you look back on your life, or will you get sad and realize you didn't spend enough time with your children? Do you actually play with your kids, or do you sit there on your phone and let them do whatever alone? Do you and your husband sit with eachother, each on your own phone, "together?" Do you really want to experience your baby son's first steps in a video, or do you want to look at them as they do it and see their eyes light up with wonder?

No longer will I pull out my phone to check notifications when I'm with family. When I'm on a date with my wife, off limits.  Dinner table?  Off limits.

No longer do emails or messages make me respond immediately. My time is sacred.  I'm on my own time, not anyone else's.

No longer is my phone my take-everywhere-computer and camera. Now? It's a phone. A novel idea. Texting, calling, maybe maps, and music.

No longer will I take so many photos so often, or worry about capturing every special moment.

Some of my favorite memories in life are ones I don't even have pictures of.

I will live in the moment and experience the joy of being with those I love.

It's time to practice mindfulness.

I'll tell you something interesting. Inspiration comes from unlikely sources sometimes. I watched Furious 7 on the flight home, and it really resonated with me. I've always liked Vin Diesel because he just seems like a good guy, and while this is a straight-forward Fast and Furious action movie, it was Paul Walker's last.  The ending of the movie was really touching to me because of the way Vin spoke about family and honoring life.  Vin Diesel is a sweet man, just watch him talk about Paul's death.  A true inspiration to just be a better person and better appreciate life and those around you. I felt touched to have been able to see them work together one last time, and to witness such a heartfelt goodbye.

I want my family to be proud of me, and I want to be proud of myself.  I want to look back on my life when I grow old and just smile, knowing that I did the best I could. I study language because I want to be the husband and father that takes his family to China actually speaking Mandarin. I want to connect to the culture and people of those countries in a deeper way than just visiting.  That's why my visit to Russia was so profound. I want to be an inspiration and role model to my children. I want to make music that is meaningful, music that the listener can interpret in his or her own way, that inspires and motivates you to grow.

You can't give too much love, only too little.  Live life, experience those special moments, and document it sometimes. Kiss your children and your spouse/loved one, tell them you love them.  Put the phone down and pick up your daughter and hug her.

Nothing is a substitute for human interaction.

It's back to basics for me.

This is one of a few major things I am changing.  For the first time in a long time, I truly feel forward momentum.

I feel awake.
  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: optimistic optimistic
  • Current Music: Final Fantasy XI OST
vitne 2015

Night in Review: Gölden Palace Reunion Concert

Vitne (left) and Alex Goss (right) - Photo by Nick Milak

I haven't talked much of the Gölden Palace reunion concert yet.  I was hoping for a few more pictures before doing so, but while I'm waiting I want to talk a little about the concert.


This concert was the first time playing with these guys in 6 years, the last concert being in August or September of 2009.  And, this was my first time playing live since January of 2012, which was the farewell show for SEKS.


It was magic. I know it may sound cheesy to say that, but it was. The night started out with Fowler's Mustache playing, a cool jammy band that is real easy on the ears. Tons of people showed up.  It was like a high school reunion in many ways.  Some people showed up whom I'm not sure even saw Gölden Palace during our active time.  That's pretty cool! And some die hard fans were there from the early days.


And you know what else was cool?  We finally had CDs.  Literally, we had never had CDs before.  In 5th March, I had made some seriously home-made CDs we sold at shows which was just called "5th March" - a handful of our home recordings.  But that was 2001/2002.  As GP, we had some demos we gave out at some shows but never any CDs to sell.  Now that we had pressed A Little Rock N' Roll finally (original underground release in 2005), as well as our new EP Touch Me There (which was originally slated to be released in 2009), man it felt good.  And also, Johnny, our drummer, still had a whole batch of the GP t-shirts I originally had made back in 2004!


The OG GP t-shirts from 2004.  Still rockin' (tons of Large sizes...)


See?  Our shirts are comfy

OK, back to the concert.

I mean the place was jam packed.  Everyone was having a blast, and Goss and I were leading the band on the mic, engaging the audience, and for the first time ever, I was doing backing vocals...and I was on bass.  Graham, our original bassist, was in Alaska on a fishing boat or something, so he couldn't make it.  But, I played bass in 5th March, the band most of us played in in high school, and you know what?  It felt right.  I was comfortable.  It was fun on so many levels, and really, we played the best concert of our career.  And it was one of the best crowds we've played to as well.


These types of shows make me miss the punk rock shows we used to put on.  During 5th March and early GP we would play almost every show with a band called Steve Hit Mike.  I wish they could have been there, that would have been the icing on the cake.


This was different than when I sang in SEKS.  This was a punk rock show.  No stage.  Just a jam-packed little bar and a good damn time.  I was also not fronting the band, but I feel like my time as lead singer (in SEKS) absolutely assisted me now in Gölden Palace.  Through performing with SEKS I was able to develop charisma and confidence in performing.  Before, I thought I was "going crazy" or putting on a good show, but looking back, I and we were probably slightly boring at some our old concerts.  But this was a new GP, a re-energized group of brothers that didn't lose a second.


GP's back.  F yeah.


- Jo / Vitne


Buy Golden Palace's A Little Rock N' Roll on iTunes

Buy Golden Palace's Touch Me There on iTunes


GP in the flesh (half of GP at least!) -  Jo Kimbrell/Vitne (left) and Alex Goss (right)

GP - good ol' American rock n' roll

Buy Golden Palace's A Little Rock N' Roll on iTunes

Buy Golden Palace's Touch Me There on iTunes


NOTE:  All photos by Nick Milak (thanks dude)
  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: Satisfied
  • Current Music: Golden Palace
vitne 2015

Studio Update: September 24, 2015

Kickin' back after some studio time (the socks are clean)

Misleading photo, isn't it?


I've been hard at work recently working on new songs for what will be my next Vitne album, which I'm just calling "Vitne III" at the moment.  Well, I have a good idea what the name will be, I just don't want to reveal it yet.


Today I've been working on some acoustic guitars and I sent the last song off to Julian (Angel) for lead guitars.


I'm really excited about this one, because so far it is a bit longer than Endless Blue, but just as deep. I like the direction I've been moving creatively. It means more to me and it just feels right. And seeing how Endless Blue has been getting great feedback, I think people can tell it is more me, and more personal.  That being said, "Vitne III" will definitely be heavier than Endless Blue.

My little awesome mess

As of now also, it is looking to be less of an EP and more of a full-length album. I am not going to force it though.  I felt that with Endless Blue, 6 tracks were perfect for what it needed to portray. Anything more and I felt it would have been strained. It is looking like "Vitne III" will be around 7-9 tracks.


For you gearheads: This might be my final album using Pro Tools. I saw how Avid has introduced a mandatory subscription for updates beginning with Pro Tools 12.  Isn't upgrading every 1-2 years enough for you, Avid?  I'm sticking with Pro Tools 11 for now, and we'll see about the future.  I'm looking into moving over to Reaper.  Cool name too :D


Until next time.  Over and out.


- Vitne
  • Current Location: Studio
  • Current Mood: Chillin'
  • Current Music: Vitne (new song)
vitne 2015

My First Album Award! ENDLESS BLUE wins "Best Rock EP"


Wow, I have officially won an album award!  It really means a lot that this one, of all the albums I have released, that this one wins an award.  This is my most meaningful work, and it has really proven itself I think.

My newest album ENDLESS BLUE won the Best Rock EP category this September 2015 by the Akademia Awards.  And potentially even cooler is that it won the Executive Top Pick, one of only 5 picks out of a lot of artists.

If you have bought it, thank you.  If you haven't, and you'd like to buy it, grab it on iTunes here: http://apple.co/1W4Di6M
  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: Proud
  • Current Music: Vitne
vitne 2015

Throwback Thursday: 2011 with SEKS

It's Throwback Thursday time! It's my old band SEKS! Flash back in time to 2011, that's me in the yellow shirt holding the guitar over my head. This was a funny photo shoot, inspired by a very early Motley Crue photoshoot I once saw with tons of balloons on the floor. SEKS was a lot of fun.

  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: Silly
  • Current Music: SEKS
vitne 2015

Music Industry Complainers

I don't like to complain, because I don't like complainers. But I'm gonna go one step and complain about the people complaining about the music industry.

I keep seeing articles every once in a while about some "industry veteran" in some band bitching about the "state of the industry" and how streaming is killing everything, blah blah blah.

Get over it.

I understand it isn't the same as it used to be. But why live in the past? Make the best with what you've got. Accept that streaming is the future instead of fighting it.

It's like getting bent out of shape about how workout equipment isn't made of only iron anymore. Or how computers aren't cream colored anymore. Or how you don't have to dial up to log on to the internet anymore. "Oh man, the slow connections really made you appreciate the internet. It was such a joy seeing that picture after 10 minutes downloading."

I don't want to give advice because the majority hates advice unless they are looking for it. They just want empathy or sympathy like "oh yeah, today is really terrible for music" but I won't give you that. I'm merely going to say what I believe.

I tend to give away a good bit of my music but I don't feel it marginalizes it's worth. It has actually gotten me closer to many fans. I feel it creates a bond of trust. And honestly, a lot of purchases or whatever (in this day and age) come as a result of the connection you have with the artist. That's why I love Sum 41. Deryck Whibley reveals his inner feelings and thoughts on Facebook. Same with Nikki Sixx. That's why I love Jason David Frank (Green Power Ranger) because he is so active on Facebook and talks with his fans and is always grateful. That's why Hulk Hogan is the man. He responds to messages personally and is just cool. I'm FAR more likely to buy something from these guys to show my support than some random band or artist who just wants my money.

No one (really) likes a complainer. People like people who take action. Well, at least that's what I like.

So if you see this current climate in the music industry as lemons...ok I'll give some advice. Make some lemonade already.
  • Current Location: Norway
  • Current Mood: Irritated