I haven't bought a physical CD for yonks, relying on Amazon for most of my .mp3 downloads and dipping occasionally into the paid variant of Spotify, since it sprung into existence five years ago. In the interest of being surprised by something different and good in my listening, I've also dabbled on and off with Pandora (no longer available in the UK), Last.FM, Grooveshark and Apple's Genius playlists, dropping the latter pretty quickly since they forced me to allow the execrable iTunes to run amok with my music collection. And they're not very good, frankly.
A year or so ago, primarily because it was so well integrated with the Amazon Store, I chucked all my music into Amazon's Cloud Player, which gave me resilience and easy access from other devices for the girls. But it costs, albeit not very much - and, conscious that Google's Play Music services had become available in the UK recently, I thought I'd give them a try. So, this week my entire music collection has been trickling into the cloud in the background. As that process finally completed yesterday, I started playing with the front-end.
There's nothing immediately more appealing than other offerings - at least, there wasn't, until I accepted the invitation to try an 'Instant Mix' - a playlist compiled from my own music, based on some algorithmic cleverness. This is, conceptually, nothing new - it's much what Apple's Genius Playlists are about - but this is different. Because it really works.
Given the cleverness, you can't help but wonder whether some control of the basis for the mix might become available eventually - it could clearly lend itself to further tweaking. And Google have a paid extension to the service, a Spotify-like streaming offering, which I now have to explore. If it integrates my collection and new music across a single mix - which it clearly could - then I may never look elsewhere again.