How I listen to music (not just “with my ears”)…

By | August 12, 2019

As you’ve probably noticed, I write quite a bit.  It goes with, well, being a writer!

And (much as I do like a good fountain pen) I mainly write at the computer.  Sometimes at the office and sometimes at home.

When I’m writing at home I often like to put music on – and my home PC has some decent speakers so I don’t need a separate stereo.

In fact we listen to music quite a lot during the day – and most of the time if I’m not sat at the computer, I’ll use my phone (with a separate bluetooth speaker – we’ve got one called the UE Boom 2, which sounds great).

Either way, I don’t tend to be listening to CDs (or records – I’ve still got a few!).   I’m usually listening to music online. It saves me hunting down the CD I want.

So I thought I’d mention some of the different ways you can find music to listen to online – and even hunt down any elusive pieces of music that are tricky to find.

There are umpteen ways of doing it, so I’m just going to talk about the methods I use – I’m sure other people would tell you their own way is better… and they might be right!  But my ways work for me and might be worth trying for you too.

If you’ve never really used the internet to listen to music, the simplest way is to use YouTube.

YouTube is designed for watching videos online but it also has a huge amount of music on it – of all types.  The quality isn’t absolutely top-notch (I mean the sound quality, not the quality of the music – that depends on what you choose to play!)  For anyone interested it tends to be fairly heavily compressed so the loud bits and the quiet bits end up the same volume. If you’re listening on the built in speakers from a laptop, tablet or phone, though, that’s not such a bad thing.

The big advantage of YouTube is that you can find almost anything on there, even fairly rare things.  Just go to the website or open the app on a tablet or phone, type in the name and musician’s name and it’ll bring up a list – chances are including the very thing you’re after.

I use it if someone mentions a piece of music I haven’t heard of and I want to quickly find it… If you’re a classical music fan you can also use it to compare recordings of the same piece by different people to pick a favourite.

Claire (who works here) also uses it sometimes to torment me with really tacky 80s pop hits… reminding me how bad some music was when we were both young!

One downside of YouTube is that you get a lot of adverts – that’s how they pay for the service.  But if you use a tablet or phone you can also download the YouTube Music app – it’s different from the normal YouTube app because it only lists music.  You still get to see whatever video goes with the music, but it doesn’t list videos of people showing off their new cats or whatever.  

And it has another advantage – you still do get adverts, but not as many.

So if you find you do use YouTube for music on your phone or tablet, I’d get the YouTube Music app.  It’s free (though it will ask if you want the paid version, which has some extra features) and I find it works pretty well.  I think (but don’t know for certain) that the sound quality is a bit better too.

The other main online service I use is Amazon Prime Music.  If you already pay for Amazon Prime to get fast delivery of things you buy from them or for the online TV that’s included, then you can get Amazon Prime Music without paying anything extra.  Just download the app on a tablet or PC or go to the Amazon website and look for Prime music and click on it.

They have a fairly big range of music – but not everything.  Some music is excluded because you’d have to buy it separately or pay for the fully-blown “Amazon Music” to get it.

There are two advantages of Amazon Prime Music over just using YouTube.

The first is the sound quality is really good.  In some cases it’s better than CD quality, so you can really hear the detail.

The other is that on a phone or tablet you can download music from Amazon Prime Music so you don’t need to be connected to the internet to listen to it.  So you can take some of the music with you in the car – on the train – or in a hotel room.

That might not be handy for you – or it might.  I suppose it depends on how and where you like to listen to music.

There are umpteen other options for listening to music and I’m definitely not saying there’s anything wrong with them.  You can use Spotify, Google Music, Apple Music or even find the webpage for individual radio stations, which often have a bit where you can listen to what’s currently being played or to previous broadcasts.  As I say, it’s what I tend to use, though, and if you’re thinking of listening to music online and not sure where to start, I’d probably start with YouTube – nice and easy!

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