By Grace Givan, executive entertainment editor
In 2016, junior Annie Cimack sat at her desk doing math homework while listening to a Jazz station on Pandora. A cover of the well-known song “Over the Rainbow” started playing, and Cimack was intrigued by this new version of the song. She had only heard “The Wizard of Oz” version, so it was interesting for her to hear Israel Kamakawiwoʻole‘s version. His smooth, soothing voice accompanied by his Hawaiian accent caught Cimack’s attention. It’s findings like these that make Cimack prefer Pandora over other music streaming services.
“I know not a lot of people use Pandora, and I kind of get some flak for using it myself,” Cimack said. “But I think there is something to be said for just learning about new musicians and just exploring what there is.”
Though Spotify has a radio feature as well, Cimack only uses this part of these music services, making Pandora the right fit for her.
Even though Cimack is an advocate of Pandora for moments like finding Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, not all of her peers are in agreement. In fact, four percent of Prospect is an active listener to this music streaming service while 73 percent belong to Spotify, six percent to both Spotify and Pandora and 17 percent listen to neither.
Back in December 2013, Pandora had 72 million active users; in December of 2016 it jumped to 81 million. Spotify, on the other hand, went from 40 million to 140 million in roughly the same span of time, according to Business Insider. However, Cimack is not changing along with these statistics.
Cimack’s primary source of music has been Pandora for three years. One reason she has stuck with it for so long is that she really enjoys reading artist’s biographies that Pandora provides when listening to their songs. Spotify also has some artist biographies, but Cimack believes that Pandora’s biographies are far more accessible since they are right under the song title along with the song’s lyrics.
On the other hand, her younger sister, freshman Bonnie Cimack, uses Spotify for more than three hours per day instead of using Pandora.
“Pandora, I think, is a little too general,” Bonnie said. “I don’t feel like you can really personalize things as well as you can with Spotify.”
The amount of personalization of music on Spotify can be measured in how many playlists there are, according to Bonnie. There were two billion total playlists as of December 2016 on Spotify, and each person at Prospect averages out to have 400304 playlists.
“I like to just have my own playlist because I can always put whatever songs I want on there,” Bonnie said. “I can always keep adding things, so I never know what’s going to be the next song. It’s always kind of interesting to see what I have playing in the morning, or what shows up in the shower or something like that.”
Not only does she like having the option to have playlists themselves, but she also likes the ease in getting them. Bonnie and junior Mitchell Rutledge both agree that Spotify’s pre-made playlists are a strength in terms of what Spotify puts forward to its listeners. For example, Spotify allows their listeners shuffles of the global top hits, the top hits in each country, songs to workout to, music that is currently rising in popularity and other things.
“I don’t have to spend my time making a playlist when [Spotify] can make a playlist that has most of the songs I like, and I can skip the ones that I don’t,” Rutledge said.
Annie, however, uses a different feature, one which belongs to Pandora, to listen to the types music she wants, instead of making a playlist. She selects a station on her Pandora account, and then adds a song, artist or composer of her choice in order to bring variety to that station. She finds that this method of making her Pandora stations superior to pressing the “thumbs-up” button when she likes a song, because she finds that this personalizes her stations better.
When she wants to play these stations, it can sometimes be difficult to convince her sister to let her. Annie and Bonnie share a room, and it can be a struggle to decide who gets to put on their music at night. However, Annie usually gets to put on her Pandora station, filling the room with 60’s and 70’s music along with the occasional cello.
When Bonnie does get to listen to Spotify instead of Pandora, she enjoys Spotify’s extensive song selection, which consists of 30 million songs compared to Pandora’s one million, according to Digital Trends and Diffen.
“I have a pretty broad selection of songs that I can choose from [with Spotify],” Bonnie said. “I can really just make things tailored to what I want personally. And [Spotify] will throw in a few suggestions, which I normally like.”
Bonnie and Rutledge both see Spotify as the way to go if listening to a specific song is desired.
One thing unique to Spotify that Rutledge is familiar with is the Spotify advertisements that gives the listener an opportunity to click a banner that opens an ad. After watching, the listener receives 30 minutes of ad-free music, but if they don’t click the banner, ads will pop up every few songs.
Normally, these pop-ups go unnoticed from Rutledge until he hears the distinct background music of this Spotify advertisement. However, once he does come to his senses and processes the opportunity to not have any advertisements for a temporary period of time, his attitude changes to being frantic until someone presses the button.
“Most people get so excited [when it comes on],” Rutledge said. “All of my friends get excited when they get the chance to click it, and I freak out when it comes on because you want the shortest amount of ads.”
Students aren’t the only ones at Prospect who use these services. Student Spanish teacher Cecilia Gama uses Spotify for her students to listen to, and she sees music as a good way to get students involved in the culture and language.
“Students like listening to something when they get into the class,” Gama said. “If the room is quiet, students are like, ‘Okay, it’s just another class.’ Where like if you get music going students are like, ‘Yeah! I’m ready to learn.”
However, Gama does not just play any random Spanish music. She chooses the songs students are hearing in the classroom beforehand, which is why having Spotify Premium is the right decision for her.
“I pre-select my music so I know what’s appropriate and not appropriate,” Gama said. “With Pandora it is difficult to manage that because there is not a specific thing that you can look up … because you can make playlists [with Spotify].”
While Pandora and Spotify are different in their features, they can relate by both sharing the same thing: music.
“[I think music] is kind of a way to express yourself,” Annie said. “It’s sharing what you think is cool, and it’s good for relaxing.”