The Oyster service mentioned by Adrian on the main subject blog this week looks, in short, fantastic, but I might be biased because I am invested in the subscription based model for these kind of things.
For the sake of fairness I am currently subscribed to both Adobe Creative Cloud (student version which is fabulous value for all you looking for software for cheap) as well as Rdio, sister to Spotify (but FAR better looking and designed). Why did I choose to take these routes rather than buy outright? It’s mostly value. Music for one thing is an absolute staple in my life and I can say with confidence I’m listening to music anywhere between 6-12 hours a day on average.
For the kind of music I listen to more often (DnB, EDM etc.) this adds up to about 72-144 songs a day at 5 minutes each. For less than the cost of a single music ($12.99) album I have 24/7 access to thousands upon thousands of different artists for an entire month. On top of that immense value I continually find new artists through the service’s recommendation & shuffle features that I would have otherwise never found.
I realise that this sounds a lot like a sales pitch, and it kind of is because I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone who enjoys music. Of course it’s not the only service out there because you’ve also got Spotify, MOG (Telstra’s own service), JB Hi-Fi with their own attempt at breaking into this market and a myriad of others that I probably don’t know about, but I’ve found Rdio has the best balance of interface design, functionality, and music variety. With the advent of a permanent global network these services have bloomed because rather than being able to only buy physical copies of a digital medium we can have access to the medium directly through the services.
Adobe’s Creative Cloud is just as supremely useful, especially or students, where they offer a heavy discount on the normal subscription price which allows access to their entire library of software during the term of subscription. Of course Adobe requires you to stick with a 12 month contract, but this still offers not only good value for the price your paying for the software, but you also have access to the new software should it get updated. Alone the software would cost a fortune and a half – particularly in Australia, though it’s come under recent scrutiny.
Of course the trade-off for these services is ownership because when you pay for the month or year of subscription you are not paying to own a licence for the software, simply access to it for the duration of the subscription. Of course if you – like me – don’t care for ownership and only desire the core service these things are a brilliant idea.
I can understand the want for collecting the ‘real’ thing however, as Patrick points out in his recent blog post with his preference for collecting Vinyl’s and Books and there certainly is something rather intimate about the traditional mediums. Oyster in that case is, for the same reasons I explained above, a great service for those who enjoy the act of reading a book itself – the core of the idea of reading – but not very appealing to those who enjoy the classic medium. In relation to a Symposium a couple weeks back this is the same reason eBooks will never totally replace traditional books, and why some people might prefer to carry a pile of books around over a tablet filled with PDFs.
For me however, being the minimalist pragmatic I am, the ability to have remote access to seemingly endless libraries of content or services is downright neat. I love to know that I can digitally request virtually any book or song without having to physically retrieve it, nor it taking up any physical space. All we need now are unlimited data plans for mobile phones and broadband and the world of digital content could be ultimately pervasive.