As a big listener of music and a big lover of tech, I’ve found that unlimited music streaming services suit me over buying songs and/or albums individually. With a streaming service I can search for the artist, song, or album I like, then listen to it instantly without having to fork over more money. It sounds ‘cheap’, however, its ease of use makes it very appealing. A good music streaming service also allows you to play back your tunes on different devices — Rdio, Grooveshark, Spotify, and more, all do this.
So as a big user of Grooveshark for all my streaming needs, I jumped at the chance to give Samsung’s service — Samsung Music Hub Australia — a chance to win me over. Samsung supplied me with a Premium Subscription worth $12.99/mo and told me to go for it. So here’s what I think of their competitor in the streaming space.
It’s really Samsung-only
Samsung Music Hub, while it can be used on a desktop PC/Mac, it for Samsung devices only — with the Music Hub app only being available on the Samsung Apps store. You can install it on a Samsung phone or tablet and it will be good to go — all other manufacturers miss out. It’s unclear if Samsung believe this service is a selling point to get people to buy their phones, but I can say with confidence that the competitors out there off the same range of music and will install on most, if not all, Android devices.
But for people who wish to stay in the Samsung ecosystem, then the Music Hub is definitely worth taking a look at. Especially since the first month is free.
Most music is available
As you’ll see when opening the Samsung Music Hub app on your Samsung phone, the service is powered by EMI’s digital platform ‘The In Song’. The good thing about this is that EMI and the recording label’s it has partnered with keep the music collection up to date. Samsung and EMI haven’t said roughly how many songs are available on Samsung Music Hub, however, there were only a handful of times that I couldn’t find the artist I was after — one of them being AWOLNATION.
It’s an album and playlist-based service
The most appealing thing to me about Grooveshark is that I can create a queue of all the songs I’m now listening to. With Samsung Music Hub there is no real ‘queue’ that you can set up. Instead you create playlists and add all the songs you want to listen to at that particular time. You can also listen through an entire album of an artist, like I found myself doing most of the time — I recommend checking out Imagine Dragon’s album.
Playlists are limited to 200 songs, but you can have as many playlists as you’d like. There’s no embeds, so you can create a playlist and embed it on a website, Facebook, Tumblr for your friends to enjoy there, but you can link them to the desktop site of Music Hub to let them listen.
Audio quality is good
Although its not stated on Samsung Music Hub, EMI says that their The In Song platform streams MP3 at 256kbs and 320kbps where available. I found the quality on both the desktop site and the app to be of good quality at all times. The downside to this is that if you’re not saving the music to your mobile device for local playback within the Samsung Music Hub app, then your data allowance is going to take a beating.
The app isn’t great, needs an overhaul
Spotify, Rdio, Grooveshark all have great Android apps. Sure, they have their problems in certain areas of use, but overall they’re good apps. Samsung’s Music Hub app isn’t close to the level of polish and ease-of-use of those apps. Although minor, some people may be displeased by the Holo design guidelines being thrown to the wayside for the most part.
Scrolling through items is super counter-intuitive with no easy way to list all songs, albums, artists in alphabetical order at once and then scroll through them, instead they’re broken up into alphabetical order in 26 sections, one for each letter of the alphabet that you have to press on to get to that letter. The app is also feels sluggish, even when running on the Galaxy S4. Overall it’s clunky at best.
The app does, however, let you save music to the device for local playback to stop any data-draining issues. You can also completely disable streaming when on a mobile network. These are must-have features and are included.
Should you switch to Samsung Music Hub?
If you’ve already signed up for another streaming service and you like it, then it’s very likely you’re not going to swap to another unless there’s something amazing on offer. If you use one of the major streaming services that allow unlimited music streaming, then there’s really no reason to switch if what you have works for you.
However, Samsung is giving everyone a free month Premium Subscription to try out the service for themselves, and that’s really the best idea I can give you. It’s hard to tell you what I think of a service that people use very differently. If you’ve got a Samsung phone and you’ve not yet signed up for a streaming service, I recommend heading over to the Music Hub website and signing up for the free month — no billing details are required.