In the last ten years, we’ve seen the extinction of CDs, after LPs and compact cassettes faded away. The big reason behind this — digital music streaming services.
Services like Spotify have taken the spotlight from physical disks —for just $9,99/month you get unlimited access to tens of millions of songs, everywhere you go, while a CD costs ~$20, contains about 15 songs and is barely portable — and that’s only one CD. Imagine carrying, say nine, of your favourite CDs in your backpack on your morning jog. You want to listen your favourite song from each. After that ~3 minutes song, you have to stop, switch CD and select your prefered song. Okay, that’s not so bad… But instead of a little smartphone in your pocket, you have to take this huge portable CD player with you, that certainly won’t fit in a normal pocket.
Apparently people have realised that those times are over, as digital music has undoubtedly taken over. The selection of music streaming services has rapidly increased over the past few years — Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Google Play Music… and Microsoft Groove. The last one is most probably the least popular choice. Excluding Apple Music, I’ve tried all of these services. Most recently, Microsoft’s Groove.
All these services are very different from each other. Yes, they all play music, but there’s much more it. For many people, the user experience can be a deal breaker and it certainly affects all of us in a way or another. As there is so much choices, why stick with a bad one? From all the music streaming services I have tried, I have to say that the worst mainstream music streaming service so far is — *drumroll* — Microsoft Groove Music.
Coming from Spotify, that has so far been absolutely the best, I cancelled my membership to save a few bucks and sign up for the 30-day trial of Groove. After just ONE DAY I am going back to Spotify.
But why? The first time I heard that Microsoft has a music streaming service, after hearing some rumors about Xbox Music, was in Windows 10’s music player, that had a small annotation about their Music Pass. I signed for the trial and cancelled my Spotify. Yesterday, after my Spotify changed to free plan, I was excited to try out Groove. I downloaded the Android app to my phone and was ready to find a good playlist for sleeping music, which is something I do every night before going to bed. I opened the app and it showed me a (empty) list of my playlists.Opened the menu and looked through the options it gave me: Playlists, Library, Radio, Settings. Uhm, where’s “Browse”? In Library it just showed a few songs from my Onedrive. Maybe “Radio” has some good chillout channels. Nope, it just showed me list of random artist that based on which I could hear similar music. Scooter isn’t very calming.
There are no pre-made playlists, which were one of the biggest selling points for me in Spotify, the UI is very clunky and there aren’t even any settings to customize your experience with. If this was a free service or a lot cheaper than the competitors, I’d consider it, but for $9,99 - I could not recommend this to anyone! It does the job, if you just want to listen to some music, but why settle for that, when you get something much better for your money and enjoy the musical experience you deserve?
If I have to name one good thing of Groove Music, it would be the Onedrive synchronization. I’m not aware if Spotify and Deezer does this, but at least Google Play Music let’s you store 50,000 songs in the cloud.
Edit 2020: Please note that this article is almost five years old. Much has changed for all the services talked about here. Once I carve out a decent amount of time, I’ll make a broader comparison and see who steals the crown of Groove as the worst music streaming service.