Yahoo Music, one year later

It’s been almost a year since I switched from iTunes to Yahoo Music. Time for an update. I’d say I’m 80% happy with my switch. I have little to no desire to switch back, primarily because Yahoo offers unlimited access to over a million songs, so you can search for any song and play it without having to fork over $0.99 each time. As a result, we end up discovering and re-discovering lots of music all the time, with my kids, with friends that are over to our house, it’s really a lot of fun. For example, I recently bought an MP3 player for my son (an iRiver Clix, cool device) and we filled it up with hours of music (Green Day, Queen, Kinks, Beatles, …) using our basic $5 a month subscription. I also really like the playlist sharing feature and the built-in LaunchCast radio service, both of which I use all the time.

However… a couple of things about Yahoo Music drive me crazy. Chief amongst them is that the Yahoo Music Jukebox, which is required to listen to any music, is very slow. I’m assuming it’s because it uses both Microsoft IE and Media Player, which are both slow and bloated pieces of software. Whatever the underlying reason, the Yahoo jukebox is frustratingly slow. Especially on my 3 year old laptop. A simple search for a song takes several seconds (how is this possible when a Yahoo search of the entire web takes just a few hundred milliseconds?), then clicking play on a song sometimes takes 20-30 seconds before anything starts to play. It’s almost unusable at times. Another frustration is that the podcasting support is kind of broken. It stubbornly refuses to automatically update certain podcasts, others I keep deleting and they show back up. I’ve tried updating the plugin and clearing out the cache. Nothing helps. Finally a week or so ago, the jukebox told me that it had to do a required update. I let it do its update in the hopes that the new version might be a little faster. Instead, after forcing me to re-boot (I hate that) it sported a new name (jukebox instead of engine), an equalizer that I don’t need and an upgrade link to a Pro version (I’m already a subscriber, what is this Pro version thing they are all of a sudden trying to sell me?).

So, all in all, I’m happy with my switch and convinced that for my music habits, a subscription service is much better fit than a download service. However, I’d love to find a subscription service that is a little faster…

Published by

Toni Schneider

Partner at True Ventures. Team lead at Automattic. Advisor at Atipica, Bandcamp, Handshake, Hatch Baby, Madefire, Renovo Motors, and Tend.ai.

10 thoughts on “Yahoo Music, one year later”

  1. Almost a year after my initial take on Yahoo music, (http://www.parand.com/say/index.php/2005/10/04/a-different-way-to-do-music/), I'd say I'm about 40% happy with it. It's great to have almost the entire catalogue of music at your fingertips with a nice recommendation engine to guide you around, but:

    – The music player itself is pretty horrible. Slow, sluggish.

    – I'm using an older mp3 player that doesn't support the DRM. So my YM subscription is useless when I'm mobile.

    – I have fairly constant DRM trouble – certain songs cause a pop up to visit a URL to obtain the necessary license, but clicking on the link doesn't do anything.

    – The request for license requires you to take action, interrupting your foreground work and forcing you to shift focus.

    – Y! Music Jukebox is not very friendly to slow connections. I'm on the train a lot, which means I'm on a dial-up equivalent wireless connection. For some reason it gets sluggish even on songs I've already added to "My Music"

    Of these the DRM thing is the most annoying. It never ceases to amaze me – I can get DRM free, high quality music that'll work all the time on any device quite easily through illegal means, but the music I pay for is handicapped and unusable much of the time.

    As if to prove the point, the license issue popped up 3 times for me during the course of writing this.

    On the positive side, I've discoverd a good bit of music I'd have never picked up if exploring around wasn't so easy.

  2. You can use a program called TUNEBITE to re-record the music downloaded on Yahoo Music and remove the DRM. Once you do that, you can burn the tracks to CD or use them on an Apple iPod.

  3. I have been using Yahoo Music for almost a year now and I'd say I'm about 80% happy with it too. I have never had any major DRM problems. I dislike the Yahoo Jukebox as well, and I try to use it as little as possible. I play all my music through Windows Media Player and I never seem to have a problem. I love my Creative Zen Vision M. It supports the subscription DRM and the only annoyance is you have to sync it at least once a month or the songs won’t play on the device. The only reason I might leave would be to make a switch to the Zune if everything works well but I’ll probably give it a good year. My Zen is too new and too cool to give up just yet and you can’t beat Yahoo’s price.

  4. Joe: Zune is compatible with yahoo music, no reason to switch. Also- I'm also about 80% happy with the service. I see no reason to switch, the service is a great deal, and has done nothing but help expand my musical horizon. However, the jukebox has more or less crippled my machine (Athlon 64 3200 with 1 gig of ram.). That's rediculous. I use it to download, and then play it with winamp, seems to fix the problem. Why would yahoo be so bloated? I've always hated yahoo's website because I felt it was too bloated and full of crap, so I use google. If only google had a music download service…. *drools*.

  5. i heard that the zune didn't work with anything else other than the software it came with. i am also thinking about buying a zune and getting yahoo. but is it completly compatible with yahoo?

  6. Zune does not work with Yahoo, speaking from experience. It only works with the packaged software…..BIG dissapointment!

    don't listen to those that don't have a zune and are telling you it works with Yahoo…..it doesn't.

  7. Has anyone confirmed the Yahoo/Zune issue or should I just get the ZEN? I really want to get the Zune to stream through the 360, but I've got a feeling that wouldn't work with subscription tracks anyhow.

  8. At least I'm not alone in my thoughts – the Yahoo Music offer is great, but the software is about the worst i've seen. And they keep releasing updates that make it slower and slower…

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