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Written by Mark Evilsizor
From his column Church Tech

church-tech-07-15-1In my youth, the trip to the music store was something I planned and saved for. It was an event! The payoff for mowing in the hot, humid Ohio summer was a trip to “vinyl city.” Perusing the bins, I searched eagerly to see if there was anything new from Adam Again, Prodigal, or Horrendous Disc. Returning home with my treasure, I loaded the turntable, took my place on the couch, and absorbed the lyrics and liner notes. As the years went by, I switched to cassettes (tougher to read liner notes on these), CDs, and then MP3s. As I grew older, the media of music got smaller, thinner, and finally disappeared altogether.

Here and there, I tried music streaming but didn’t subscribe, so I had limited access (no skipping of songs and ads). But when my son got an iPhone, his first act was to subscribe our family to the Beats music service (recently purchased and rebranded by Apple). I was shocked that ATT would allow a minor to subscribe to a financial contract and almost cancelled it out of principle. But my son’s Precious Moments stare and quivering lip persuaded me to give the free month a try before cancelling. Suddenly, our whole family had access to nearly every song ever written—an infinite music collection—for about the same price I was spending monthly on new music.

We fell for it like dominos. First, my daughter succumbed and, looking at me with Margaret Keane eyes implored, “Daddy, can we keep it?” She played upon my academic aspirations for her by saying she would be able to study better with easy access to Mozart and Muse. My wife was next to hop on the bandwagon. Being a fourth grade teacher who incorporates much singing and music into the learning process, she overcame her dislike of new technology and became a streaming fanatic (Kenny G for test taking and Daft Punk for more lively sessions). It was 3 to 1, so I begrudgingly started streaming during my daily hour-plus commute. I had to admit having this kind of access was a revelation.

No longer did I need to commit to an album before buying it. There were no more experiences of having my expectations exceed the final product (I’m talking about you, Beat the System). I could try it and “keep it" or not—there was no extra charge. And I could sample all the music my friends recommended without having to pay for it first—no need to screen—just sample away at the infinite music buffet!

Also, it simplified the process of loading new music onto my phone. No need to shop, buy, download, make room, and then sync. Now, all I had to do was search and play. Need Sinatra for an Italian fundraiser at church? No problem! Need Barney to put the baby to sleep? Just click three times and the purple dinosaur is crooning.

There are several streaming services each with its unique set of features and options. USA Today has created a helpful resource for comparing the major ones.

If you listen to a variety of music and would like to simplify and broaden your listening options, you owe it to yourself to try a streaming music service.

Mark Evilsizor has worked in Information Technology for more than 20 years. He currently serves as head of IT for the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Mo. Views and opinions expressed are strictly his own.

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