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Brian Shaw

Brian Shaw

Brian is our token Canadian. He is a BYU grad who works as an associate copywriter by day and a Star Wars nerd by night.

Technology is always changing, with yesterday’s impossible evolving into today’s ‘must have.’ While there’s no way to predict everything that will surprise us in 2017, here are five upcoming tech products to keep your eye on in the New Year.

2017 tech

The Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is an upcoming console/tablet hybrid that aims to revolutionize the way we play video games. Utilizing detachable game controllers and a special docking station, the Nintendo Switch can transform from a handheld gaming tablet to a complete gaming console within seconds. While there is plenty of skepticism on how well the Switch will work, Nintendo has surprised us before. And the device, set to launch in March of 2017, is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Amazon Echo with a Touch Screen

Digital assistants like Siri, Google Now and Alexa have already proven that they can be a compelling tool to make everyday life easier. And while we don’t know the specific sales numbers for Amazon’s Echo devices, it’s obvious that Amazon is heavily invested in developing the product. We can expect 2017 will yield several breakthroughs in the digital assistant category. Specifically, the current rumor is that the next Alexa-enabled device will launch with a 7-inch touchscreen. Does this mean Amazon will be merging their Echo and Fire device lines? Probably not. But it could mean a new device category is set to hit the market.

Surface Phone

It’s been a long time since Microsoft bought Nokia, and we have yet to see much innovation come from the acquisition. But next year, Microsoft announced that they want to start creating Windows 10 ARM-based PCs. This might not sound like much, but it means that Microsoft wants to start using phone processors to run a specially compiled version of Windows 10. This could be a sign that a fully-functioning Windows 10 Smartphone (maybe even the long-rumored “Surface Phone”) is being prepped to launch in 2017.

Android Wear 2.0

Google planned to release an update to its Android Wear platform (the software that runs on Android Smartwatches) earlier this year. For several different reasons, this update has been pushed to 2017. While smartwatch sales have been dwindling in recent months, this update could provide a much-needed boost of usage and popularity to bring smartwatches back into the limelight.

The Next iPhone

People always clamor over the latest iPhone releases every year, but 2017 might prove to be extra special, as it marks the 10-year anniversary of the original launch of the iPhone. While it could be an incremental “7S” upgrade like we’ve seen in years past, many rumors point to a major overhaul, including a curved screen, removing the home button and more. Either way, the next iPhone will definitely turn a few heads in the tech world in 2017.

Again, there’s no way to predict what crazy and innovative products will surprise and amaze us this next year, but we can rest assured that there are many sleeper hits and major flops yet to come.

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If you’ve given us a ring at Penna Powers in the last year, you may have noticed that we’ve abandoned the tired jingles and elevator music of yesteryear. Instead, we utilize your waiting time to inspire and share a little bit about who we are. Here are a few examples of our latest on-hold recordings…

For more fun entries, call us anytime at: 801.487.4800

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The Salt Lake Corporate Games is an annual event where companies across Utah gather to compete in various sports, games and activities. While the competition is friendly, top performing teams are recognized and awarded with medals (gold, silver or bronze). Larger companies even compete against each other across all competitions to win the coveted “Corporate Cup.”  Penna Powers’ past pursuit earned us a bronze medal.

This year, our daring and dauntless team tested our mettle against the best Utah has to offer, and things went better than expected.

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salt lake corporate games gold

Though we didn’t win every event we entered, we came away with gold at the trivia contest. While we were sidelined as dodgeball and kickball combatants, we certainly proved that we are first-rate at being chock full of (somewhat) useful information.

The questions covered categories like geography, history or pop culture and ranged in difficulty from things like, “How many gold medals has Michael Phelps won?” (23) to “How many islands make up the island nation of Japan?” (6,852). The corporate games are nearly finished and while we won’t be winning a “corporate cup,” we’re proud to say that Penna Powers is the trivia king.

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What is Google Search Console? Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is one of Google’s latest creations that can help you manage and optimize your website. While it is similar in many ways to Google Analytics, Google Search Console is unique in that it focuses primarily on your website’s organic search rankings. Not only is it completely free (much like Google Analytics), but it offers a wealth of information that anyone who is managing a website should take notice of.

what is google search console dashboard

What can Search Console really do?

As stated earlier, Google Search Console essentially monitors your site’s performance in relation to its Google Search results. It can show you exactly what keywords your website is ranking for, how well those keywords are performing (in terms of generating visitors) and even alert you if your website has errors that could be hurting your visibility online. On top of this, you can use Search Console to make sure Google can access your content, submit new content for crawling and even remove content you don’t want shown in search results (you can read Google’s take on it here).

Here’s an example of Penna Powers’ last 28 days of web traffic according to Google Search Console (found under the “Search Traffic” sub menu). As you can see, this incredible tool can show you exactly what search terms are generating leads for your website, how many times your website is seen organically and even the click-through-rate (CTR) for those impressions. This additional information is key for learning which keywords you need to target moving forward as you manage your website.

what is google search console stats

Search console can also help you discover and correct any crawl errors on your website via the “Crawl” submenu on the left.

How can I start using Search Console?

Getting Search Console for your website (or “property”) is actually incredibly easy. From the main Search Console dashboard you’ll notice an “ADD A PROPERTY” button. From there, you’ll be prompted to submit your website URL. While you can type out your URL directly, I’d recommend using copy + paste directly from your URL bar to make sure you get the URL just right.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.49.03 PM

After you hit “add,” you’ll be asked to verify your website. The simplest way to do this is to follow Google’s instructions and upload your HTML file to Search Console. Even if that doesn’t work, there are alternate methods to verify your ownership (like adding an HTML tag to your website’s code, using your Google Analytics account, etc).

Once your website is verified, you can begin enjoying the wealth of information found therein. When it comes to optimizing your site for search-ability (read: SEO), Google Search Console is an invaluable tool for any webmaster.

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Twelve years ago, Toho Co., Ltd. released “Godzilla: Final Wars” in Japan. This was the 28th film in the Godzilla series. At the movies’ conclusion, it was unclear if there would be another Godzilla movie ever made again. Amid rumors and false hopes, fans all around the world sat quietly waiting for the King of Monsters to return to the screen.

Then, in 2014, Legendary released “Godzilla” to largely positive reviews. Maybe it was the success of this movie, or maybe it was just pure happenstance, but not long after the American Godzilla aired, Toho announced that they would be returning to the studio to produce Godzilla: Resurgence (now called “Shin-Godzilla”).

shin godzilla returns

Shin-Godzilla will be released in Japan on July 29th, and then in America sometime later this year. While I think most people can appreciate giant monsters battling each other, for those unfamiliar with the Japanese Godzilla films, something important should be noted: In Japan, Godzilla is a man in a suit. Rather than opt for a computer-generated Godzilla like the American films have done, Japan has always combined computer graphics with a physical, costumed character. And this 2016 Godzilla movie will be no different.

Take a look at these two trailers that have been released for the movie, and get hyped! This new twisted take on the big, bad monster is going to be good. Let me know in the comments below if you agree, or if you’re not a fan of Japan’s latest take on Godzilla.

TRAILER #1

TRAILER #2

For more information on other upcoming Godzilla movies, read here.

For marketing tips and tricks we can learn from Godzilla, read here.

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Simple explanation: Type faster.

According to a paper written by the British Psychological Society in 2012, the average office worker spends nearly six hours a day at their desk. That’s six hours spent in front of a computer screen arranging random strings of characters into cohesive thoughts. You might spend your six hours hashing out reports, crafting elaborate emails no one will read or even writing clever blog articles about typing, but there’s one thing that all office workers have in common: We type a lot.

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While the amount of words someone will type in a day varies by profession, your average office denizen will type somewhere in the ballpark of 5,000 to 8,000 words during an 8-hour shift. Considering most people type at an average speed of 45 WPM (words per minute), that’s roughly two to three hours of typing each day, or almost 40% of your day, just pushing keys.

If you’re a normal person, you probably don’t know your personal WPM off-hand. If that’s the case, here’s a simple website you can use to test your typing speed. Once you know your word-per-minute average, you can approximate how much time you spend each day typing. For example, if you average 65 WPM, you may only spend one and a half hours typing, instead of two. If you reach as high as 85 WPM then you probably only spend a little over an hour typing the same amount. And if you can type over 110 WPM then you can accomplish the same amount of typing in under an hour.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that achieving a word-per-minute faster than 115 is impossible. And you know what? You might be right. But you’re missing the point. The point isn’t to set the next record for fastest typing speed ever recorded. If you look at my examples above, you’ll notice that the biggest reduction in total time spent typing was the jump from 45 WPM to 65 WPM. This is because the benefits of typing faster grow incrementally smaller the faster you get. The jump from 85 WPM to 105 WPM will only save you 15 minutes, while the jump from 45 WPM to 65 WPM will give you an extra 30 minutes each day.

So, as I said at the start of this post, how can you be more productive at work? Spend less time typing by typing faster.

A slow shutter speed was used to capture the speed of the typist's fingers.

Typing while blurry is not recommended.

But How?

Naturally, once you have realized how much time you can save by improving your typing skills, the next question becomes, “How?” Well, there’s more than one answer. First, learn the basics and other industry-standard typing techniques. Second, as it is with most things, practice makes perfect. And finally, you may want to purchase a better keyboard.

THE BASICS

While I suspect most people who work an office job have already graduated from the old “hunt and peck” technique of yesteryear, there are some basics of typing that might not be as obvious. First, don’t slouch. By adjusting your posture and body position you can prevent wrist injury, which will ultimately slow you down while you type. Be relaxed, but upright. Also keep in mind that your wrists should be level with the keyboard so that your fingers can arch over the keys without issue. Most office chairs are adjustable, so make sure to fiddle with your setup until you find the right seat position.

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The Dvorak Keyboard Layout

Another important thing to consider is your keyboard layout. While most keyboards follow the QWERTY layout, there are alternatives available. The DVORAK keyboard layout is one of the more popular alternatives, and was developed to be a more efficient layout with the most commonly used letters existing on home row. While some people swear that alternative keyboard layouts have improved their typing performance, there are no conclusive studies to prove that this is the case. For more information on alternative keyboards, click here.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Sure, the more you type the faster you’ll get. But that’s not what I mean when I tell people to practice typing. Practice means running exercises and doing activities specifically designed to push your typing capabilities. If you aren’t trying to go faster, then your fingers won’t retain the muscle memory required to actually type faster. Make sense? As such, there are plenty of tools available to help you practice your typing. Websites like Ratatype or 10 Fingers offer services to improve your typing and test your speed. Other websites like Zty.pe employ similar strategies disguised as games to push you into typing faster.

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Typing of the Dead — Improve your typing speed while saving the world from a zombie apocalypse!

The key is to focus on what you want to improve while you practice. Say you want to improve your accuracy, your practice might involve slowing down and taking extra time to make sure you aren’t hitting the wrong key or clicking two keys simultaneously. Alternatively, if your focus is all about speed (because who needs spleling anyway?), you could throw caution to the wind and track your KPM (keystrokes per minute) instead.

BUY A BETTER KEYBOARD

You probably have never thought twice about the keyboard you’re using, but the truth is that not all keyboards are created equal. In fact, your average keyboard that comes bundled with a desktop is pretty crummy. Even Apple’s aesthetically-pleasing minimalist keyboard pales in comparison to a solid mechanical option. I really like how Alex Cocilova put it in his article on PCWorld.

“Keyboards are of two kinds: (1) the cheapo, no-name slabs that are bundled by the millions with PCs, and (2) the ones that are actually worth using—and in most cases, that’s a mechanical keyboard. Stalwart friend to gamers and power typists alike, the mechanical keyboard’s physical operation and durability make it the gold standard for computer use. It’s not the only option out there—good alternatives abound for wireless, ergonomic, and other purposes—but if nothing else, ditching that freebie is something everyone should do.”

If you’re interested in learning more about mechanical keyboards, head back over to Alex Cocilova’s article. He does a great job explaining all of the benefits to a mechanical keyboard.

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Here’s an image of the keyboard I use. I can vouch for its superiority.

 

In the end, improving your typing speed by just 10 words per minute could save you as much as 20 minutes a day, six hours a month or three days a year. Is that worth it to you? I certainly hope so.

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At Penna Powers, we have a somewhat unconventional workplace. Just saying, “We don’t work in silos” is a bit of an understatement. We pride ourselves on the fact that it’s not uncommon to hear the whirr of a nerf dart flying overhead, or that no one will bat an eye if you wear slippers to work.

Red checkered slippers beside sofa. Pair of slippers near bed. They greet you every morning. Warmth of home.

Slippers at work? Yes please!

Here’s the thing, if you work in an office setting, you don’t really need shoes. I mean, what are shoes for? Their original purpose was to simply protect your feet. Sure, you could argue that over thousands of years style and comfort have become equal partners in that purpose, but ultimately the true design of a shoe is to prevent tiny, pointy objects from stabbing your foot. Slippers, on the other hand, were explicitly created to be comfortable. That’s their entire goal, purpose and reason for existence. So, with that in mind, riddle me this: How much protection do you really need for your feet? If your answer is anything less than “about 32.33% (repeating of course),” then here are three reasons it’s time for you to ditch the shoes.

1. Did I mention slippers were literally created to be comfortable?

First and foremost, slippers are relaxing, and relaxed workers are more productive. While I suspect most people have experienced slippers at some point in their life, just in case you haven’t, here’s how it works. Essentially, you take two tiny pillows of pure heaven and strap them to your feet in a way similar to sandals, only slippers look normal when worn with socks.

man in slippers

Nothing about this man looks normal.

Slippers not only help your feet feel better, they also help keep your feet warm, which can be a legitimate concern at least a few months out of the year.

2. Most people won’t notice, and the ones that do, will be envious.

If your job is anything like mine, a good portion of your day is spent working at a computer desk, and computer desks are excellent at hiding feet. In fact, taking a quick survey of all of my neighboring coworkers, I can’t see any of their feet without significant effort. If your coworkers aren’t likely to see your feet, you might as well be donning slippers.

But don’t worry, even after Jerry notices that your feet look at least ten times happier than his, he won’t be mad… he’ll be envious. And that’s because people who wear slippers to work have completely given up are super cool and everyone likes them. Poor Jerry, he could never pull off slippers like you can.

3. They slip on and off (I mean, it’s in the name).

Finally, slippers are extremely convenient and adaptable. Have a meeting mid-day? No problem. Just slip those slippers right off, throw some shoes on and no one will be the wiser. Going to be parked at your computer for a while? No biggie. Slip those slippers right on and give your feet a well-deserved break from the confines of shoes. Wore sandals to work but then realized that sandals are lame? No worries. Slip those nasty sandals right off and enjoy all the benefits of a regular slipper-user (even without socks).

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Please note: While this man’s slippers are on point, I can’t condone the use of his sweats or a soul patch.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself some slippers today, and experience comfort on the job like never before.

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If you didn’t know, May the Fourth is officially Star Wars Day (as in, ‘May the Fourth be with you’). While Star Wars fans, robots and even a few aliens typically celebrate the occasion with parties, binge watching the entire cinematic series and arguing over the validity of midichlorians in the prequels, many advertisers spend their time coming up with clever ways to tie their brands to Star Wars. Here are some of my favorite ads released on Star Wars Day over the last year. Make sure to keep your eyes open this year for all of the new, fun ads that are sure to be created.

USDA-food-safety-ad

This clever USDA Food Safety ad makes me really hungry for some TaunTaun. I just hope they smell good on the inside.

Pillsbury ad for Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns.

Pillsbury ad for Princess Leia Cinnamon Buns.

Jolly Rancher ad - Which side will you choose?

Jolly Rancher ad – Which side will you choose?

This General Mills ad highlights the Fruit Roll Up as a tasty snack, or a nifty way to take out AT-ATs.

This General Mills ad highlights the Fruit Roll Up as a tasty snack, or a nifty way to take out AT-ATs.

I can't quite place it, but something is different about Yoda in this Long John Silver's ad.

I can’t quite place it, but something is different about Yoda in this Long John Silver’s ad.

Even Darth Vader uses Phillips bulbs for his light sabers. (Bonus points if you can tell me whose light saber Vader is using in this shot. Hint: It's not his own!).

Even Darth Vader uses Phillips bulbs for his light sabers. (Bonus points if you can tell me whose light saber Vader is using in this shot. Hint: It’s not his own!).

Yoda has never looked 'fresher' in this Subway ad.

Yoda has never looked ‘fresher’ in this Subway ad.

I'd be much more excited to fly if United gave their grounds crew real lightsabers.

I’d be much more excited to fly if United gave their grounds crew real lightsabers.

A delicious combination of Princess Leia, Oreo and milk.

A delicious combination of Princess Leia, Oreo and milk.

A very clever play on one of the franchise's most famous quotes.

A very clever play on one of the franchise’s most famous quotes.

Yoda's wisdom forever immortalized in the fortune cookie at Pei Wei.

Yoda’s wisdom forever immortalized in the fortune cookie at Pei Wei.

Don’t worry if you miss all the May the Fourth advertising this year… There’s always Revenge of the Fifth!

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The year was 1954, and Japan was flush in a technological resurgence following the end of the second World War. While Japan’s focus was mostly centered on rebuilding its defeated nation, a few individuals gathered in secret and began work to bring a new terror to life. What started as a simple metaphor for the power and destruction of nuclear weapons quickly turned into a cultural phenomena, a worldwide icon and a horrifying monster: In 1954, Godzilla was born.

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Though Godzilla was originally designed as a destroyer of mankind, his role has transformed to become that of a dangerous ally, often fighting side-by-side with humans to defeat a common foe. Regardless of his relationship with us, however, there are some interesting lessons that can be learned from the Godzilla franchise that apply to marketing (and maybe even life).

1. The impossible can happen

As far as I know, no human in recorded history has encountered a 300-foot-tall whale-gorilla monster (but I’m no history buff). Because a creature of this size has likely never existed, most humans have difficulty believing it, even after Bryan Cranston makes it known that something fishy is going on.

The truth is, though, just when you think the world couldn’t get any weirder, the impossible happens. While in marketing you won’t find any giant city-destroying monsters, the impossible can still surprise you.

56f40115c36188bb7a8b45a3Take, for example, Microsoft’s latest artificial intelligence campaign, “TayTweets” (@Tayandyou). Tay was created as an AI that could learn from the messages and posts she received (mostly via Twitter). From there, she could post responses to questions or images for the whole world to see. I’m sure Microsoft assumed Tay would be a wonderful research experiment. Instead, the internet turned her into an incredibly inappropriate racist! Though Microsoft took her offline fairly quickly, I think it’s safe to say they were surprised by Tay’s response to the internet. Microsoft is now tweaking Tay’s code and plans to bring her back after they’ve (hopefully) added some filters.

In marketing, you can never truly prepare for all the different ways people might respond to your brand’s messaging. But, just because you can’t explicitly prepare for the impossible, you can at least be ready to roll with the punches (even if those punches come in monster-sized claws).

2. Tanks aren’t always the answer

In many Godzilla movies, puny humans foolishly think that they can defeat the might of Godzilla with simple tanks and missiles. Godzilla’s thick hide is impenetrable to most man-made weapons and as a result, less conventional weapons are required to bring down the beast. In fact, in the original Godzilla movie, Godzilla was ultimately defeated by something called the “Oxygen Destroyer” which destroyed the oxygen atoms inside Godzilla, leaving him to die of rotting asphyxiation.

Similar to this, the “answer” to a particular marketing campaign might not be to bring out the big guns. Traditional media will always have its place, but sometimes a different approach is required to really get things done.

Have you considered an interactive solution before? Check out this awards website, which lists eight different interactive campaigns that truly rival the Oxygen Destroyer. While your campaign might not have the same budget or breadth as those campaigns, thinking about potential solutions in an interactive way could yield results that might actually be able to pierce Godzilla’s thick skin.

3. You don’t need to help Godzilla fight the other monster

In a lot of different Godzilla movies, Godzilla goes toe-to-toe with some other giant monsters (known as Kaiju). These fights are often good for humans because Godzilla is very good at beating up on monsters that are threats to all life as we know it. Here’s the thing though, Godzilla usually doesn’t need any help in beating the other monsters, and frankly you don’t want to get caught in the line of fire. Those who do don’t always make it out alive.

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As a brand, you want to be on the cutting edge, involved in all of the latest and greatest things. If there’s a new viral trend, you might be tempted to participate. But just like you don’t always need to help Godzilla fight the bad guy, you don’t have to jump on every bandwagon. JP Morgan, for instance, thought it would good idea to have an AMA (ask me anything) on Twitter featuring one of their top executives. People could tweet any question they wanted and JP Morgan’s Vice Chairman would answer it for a whole hour. Of course, this happened in 2013, amid a recession and with various banking scandals still fresh on most consumer’s minds. Needless to say, the AMA was canceled.

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Trends come and go, and a brand can earn plenty of gold stars by taking advantage of them. But not every trend will be right for your brand. So the next time a giant monster is threatening to destroy your brand, maybe let Godzilla handle it.

4. Save your Atomic Breath for when you really need it

Godzilla isn’t a dragon and does not breath fire. That being said, he gains strength from radiation and can shoot an atomic blast from his mouth (called “Atomic Breath”). Not only is Godzilla’s atomic breath incredibly effective at decimating buildings, Godzilla also uses it to defeat his giant, hulking foes.

On more than one occasion, Godzilla has 360-no-scoped his enemies with this concentrated burst of radiation. But while this is very strong, he can’t go around spewing a non-stop stream of the super explosions. As a result, Godzilla sometimes saves his atomic breath for dire situations.

In marketing, saving an atomic blast for the right time can be very important. Revealing too much too quickly can be a bad thing. Imagine if Apple announced its next iPhone in January, complete with some innovative, earth-shattering new feature, but still didn’t release the phone until September. Not only would this give all other competitors plenty of time to implement similar (or better) features into their phones, but by the time the phone actually became available, that feature would be old news.

So if you’ve got some big news to share, considering waiting. Maybe try weakening your fans with a giant roar before completely blowing them away with your atomic reveal.

5. You can always make a comeback

Godzilla pretty much always wins, but each victory comes at a cost. In fact, sometimes it seems like the King of Monsters is all but defeated before he triumphantly rises to beat back his foe. In other cases, it seems that only in Godzilla’s very last breath is he able to conquer his enemies, sometimes falling down, as if dead, at the conclusion of a battle. But the truth is, Godzilla always gets back up. Godzilla’s regenerative capabilities rival even that of Marvel’s famous Wolverine and (outside of a few select cases) Godzilla is never down for long.

In marketing, it’s almost impossible to do everything perfectly. Mistakes will likely be made, but it’s important to remember that even when something goes wrong, it isn’t the end of the world (although if Godzilla messed up really bad, it just might be!). In hindsight, there’s always room for improvement, and every misstep is an opportunity for a comeback.

While Godzilla might not be the best role-model when it comes to marketing (or really anything except for breaking stuff), there’s actually quite a bit that can be gleaned from his savage roar and destructive endeavors. So remember, the arrogance of man is thinking nature is in his control… next time you’re trying to think up some marketing strategy, stop. Take a break and ask yourself this important question: What would Godzilla do?

 

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Music has, and always will be, a defining part of the world culture. But how we actually listen to our music is an ever-evolving process. The current flavor has taken the form of “music streaming”, and there are plenty of choices. This article will take an overarching look at some of the major players, while providing some thoughts to consider when picking which streaming service to subscribe to.

1. Spotify

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Spotify is arguably the most well-known music streaming service, offering both a free, ad-supported version and a premium version that costs $10 per month. On top of this, Spotify supports family plans of up to 5 people, with each person costing an extra $5 per month (i.e. 2 people would be $15, 4 people would be $25).

First and foremost, this price nets you access to the 30 million-plus library of songs that Spotify boasts. Spotify also offers all of its users several social features that you won’t find with other streaming platforms. This includes the option to follow your Facebook friends (or even artists) and see what music they are listening to, as well as the ability to build and share playlists that cover all kinds of music.

If you are looking for a large music library where you can also upload your own music collection, Spotify is one of the best choices available. It’s also one of the most budget-friendly option if you don’t mind listening to ads. That, in combination with all of the social features, easy-to-use UI and compatibility across all devices makes Spotify a very compelling option.

2. Apple Music

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Apple Music is somewhat of a newcomer to the music streaming world, but has already cemented itself as a very popular option. Working in tandem with your own personal music collection, Apple Music has curated playlists and live radio stations (as opposed to the “on-demand” stations offered by other services) that appeal to a lot of people. Of course, you can still listen to on-demand stations, but Apple Music is unique in that it offers playlists and radio stations managed by humans (not just algorithms).

Another advantage to Apple Music is price. While it isn’t the least expensive option available (and there is no free option), the family option supports six people and only costs $15 a month. Considering the individual plan costs $10 a month, the family plan is very affordable. Apple Music does come with some drawbacks, however. First, Apple Music only works on desktop computers and iOS devices. Not only does this mean that Android and Windows phones won’t work, but there is no online music player for Apple Music. While you can load up Spotify’s web player on any computer, sign in and start listening, you’ll have to download iTunes to your computer to utilize Apple Music.

Despite these negatives, for many people (especially those heavily invested in the Apple Ecosystem), Apple Music is the easiest and most natural streaming solution available. With a large music library and affordable options for the whole family, Apple Music has proven to be a solid streaming option.

3. Google Play Music

google-play-music

Google’s solution to music streaming is called Google Play Music, and has been growing in popularity in recent years. One of the main benefits to Google Play Music is that you can upload your entire music collection (okay, well only 50,000 songs) to the Google Play Music cloud free-of-charge. After uploading your music collection to Google Play Music, you can listen to your music library ad-free, for free and from anywhere.

Furthermore, for $10 a month (sensing a pricing pattern yet?) you can seamlessly connect your personal library to Google’s library of streamable music. Similar to Apple Music, Google also offers an affordable family plan for $15 a month, and both the individual and family plans come with access to Google’s new Youtube Red content.

While Google Play Music will work on any computer and almost all mobile phones, it doesn’t have a desktop client, and can only be accessed via the web. Even so, it’s an excellent option, especially for someone who has a very large music collection that they would like to access via the cloud.

4. Amazon Music

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This entry on the list is lesser known than most of the others, but is highly underrated. Starting with the negatives: Amazon’s music offering doesn’t have quite the same depth as the other options on the list, and its user interface leaves something to be desired. But other than that, Amazon Music is the most affordable (while still capable) music streaming option available.

With desktop, web and mobile apps available, you can access Amazon Music from practically anywhere. And you can upload your own music collection to the Amazon Music Cloud as well. What’s more, Amazon has always had excellent algorithms for determining pertinent suggestions, and their music service is no different when it comes to album and playlist recommendations.

The best part about Amazon Music, however, is its price. For $100 a year (roughly $8 a month) you get full access to Amazon Prime, which includes things like Amazon Prime Video, free two-day shipping on purchases from Amazon and of course, full access to Amazon Music. Talking strictly bang-for-buck, this is easily the best value option for a fully capable streaming music service (many people probably don’t even realize they already have access to Amazon Music!).

5. Pandora

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The final entry on my list is Pandora. Pandora is a great and totally free (read: supported by ads) option for streaming music. The disadvantage is that you can’t choose what music you listen to. Rather, Pandora is built entirely around on-demand radios. You can select a genre or an artist and Pandora’s algorithms will create a customized, random playlist based around your selection.

The service is incredibly popular and very good at what it does, though the drawbacks are obvious. Still, for many people who don’t want to be bothered creating playlists, Pandora offers the perfect music streaming solution. Even for someone who subscribes to another service, Pandora can be an excellent source for discovering new albums and artists.

Honorable Mentions:

There are many different music streaming options out there. A few top notch options that I didn’t include in my list are Rhapsody and Tidal. If you’re interested in exploring more about music streaming, I’d recommend starting with the entries on my list, as well as these honorable mentions. And of course, if I missed any obvious contenders in my list, let me know in the comments below.

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