Samsung’s new music streaming service is totally free, comes completely chock full of songs

Technology manufacturer enters online music streaming competition

Hey iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, and Songza — watch out, here comes Milk Music.

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The oddly named new music streaming service comes from technology giant Samsung. At present it’s only available on Galaxy phones in the US, but for those rocking the company’s flagship device, users have free access to over 200 radio stations and some 13 million songs that they can stream right into their ears or over their Bluetooth portable speakers.

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As mentioned in the first line of the story, the play area for music streaming services is already crazy crowded with some really big names. What’s more, these services can be streamed on any smartphone device on the market.

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Despite this competitive advantage, the South Korean-based company is confident their particular product will attract users.

“We feel that while the music space is very competitive there is room for improvement,” said Daren Tsui, vice president of music at Samsung Media Solutions.

Worth noting is the fact that this is not Samsung’s first venture in to music streaming—the company launched a service called Music Hub back in 2012.

Also worth noting – it was recently shut down.

:-/

Best apps for listening to online radio

There are a ton of online radio stations out there – here’s the best of the rest

Do a quick google search of the keyword term “online radio” and in about a half second’s time, you’ll get 836,000,000 results.

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The reason there’s so much out there is because of the proliferation of web-capable gadgetry in recent years that allow listeners to stream music wherever they are. Whether it’s a talk show or podcast, live stream of a sporting event or a station devoted to a specific musical genre, there’s an online radio station that suits your need.

The following are a handful of what we consider the best of the rest, and what makes them different from all the others.

They’re listed in no particular order.

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Using a Boombot to Listen to MLB Radio Broadcasts

MLB at Bat Radio

HOW TO LISTEN TO MLB GAMES LIVE ON RADIO

This past weekend I found myself sitting on the couch watching the SF Giants go against the Chicago Cubs.  The game was getting intense as we headed into the top of the 7th inning.  At the same time, it was one of those days that was too nice to be sitting inside watching the telly.  I wanted to find out how I could listen to the game using my wireless speaker and smartphone.  My iPhone doesn’t pull up AM radio (which sounds awful anyhow), so I scrambled around trying to figure out how I could listen to the baseball game with modern tech of internet radio.

All MLB games are content restricted by the MLB Network.  The ONLY app you can use to listen to these games live over internet radio is MLB at Bat.  TuneIn and all other apps do not have the license to broadcast Major League Baseball so don’t bother trying.  Download the App and prepare to spend the whopping $2.99/month subscription.

Once I had the App downloaded, I was able to set up my preferences around the teams I wanted to follow.  The App worked great on my Bluetooth speaker.  Within minutes, I was biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and listening to a crisp high fidelity broadcast of the game right from my handlebars.  Bikers along the route stopped me frequently asking for the score.  Throughout my ride, I was able to tune in and keep up with the game while also being able to enjoy the outdoors.  The audio quality was way higher than AM radio.  It skipped out an buffered twice during the entire ride.  Without a Boombot speaker, it’d be impossible to hear the game while riding.   I’m a fan.

Just so you know, the KNBR App does NOT have the live broadcast so spare yourself.  Get the MLB app and you’ll be a happy baseball fan.

Pandora to re-institute 40-hour cap on free music, this time covering mobile usage

Popular music stream service is about to get serious

As of today, Pandora’s placing a 40-hour limit on music streamed through its mobile app.

Pandora Mobile App

The company is struggling mightily with increased royalty costs, which has led to bringing back the super unpopular 40-hour cap on free music, which was previously applied to the desktop version of the service and eventually lifted in September 2011.

Company CEO, Joe Kennedy, said that the company’s goal is still to offer free music to everyone, but it does need to make money too.

“When you have a per-track royalty structure … there’s an inherent conflict between what radio has always been [namely, free] and what’s pragmatically reasonable,” Kennedy said. “We’re trying to balance the two. We’re certainly not backing down from the vision that we’re the future of radio. As mobile monetization improves over time, we’ll lift this.”

Specific to the modern-day music streamer’s listening behavior, Kennedy noted a difference between mobile and desktop — that there are desktop users who listen to Pandora all day while at work, so a larger percentage exceeded the monthly limit. On mobile, however, the cap should only affect 4 percent of users.

Grandma listening to music on phone

Poor grandma.

If you listen to Pandora through your phone all day on your awesome portable speaker, chances are you’re part of the 4%. Here’s how things’ll shake out for you. You’ll get a warning when you’re within 85% of your cap. Once you’ve exceeded your monthly allotment, there are a couple of options for you to choose from to deal with the situation:

• Pay a one-time fee of 99 cents to get unlimited listening for the rest of the month.
• Sign up for a Pandora One subscription, which includes unlimited, advertising-free songs.
• Don’t pay and just listen on your desktop / laptop computer for the rest of the month.

Kennedy places a lot of the blame on the rising cost of music, saying that per-track royalty rates have gone up 25% in the last three years, with an additional 16% increase expected over the next two years.

Worth noting: in the company’s last earning report, Pandora reported growing revenue and a tiny profit (though its forecast was a bit less than anticipated).

What do you think? Is Pandora being greedy? Or is the music industry really to blame?

5 things to know about Xbox Music

Microsoft’s new music streaming service is getting ready to go live

Microsoft’s Xbox Music

After (finally) pulling the plug on development for its Zune music service, Microsoft went back to the drawing board and is ready to throw its hat back in the music industry ring (Do I have enough euphemisms in there?)

The good news is that, despite their earlier failures, the company seems to have come out with a decent product tied to a stellar brand name.

Translation: this crazy idea just might work.

Here are 5 things YOU should know about it before it goes live at the end of the month.

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