Rockin’ a road trip
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The days of a glovebox full of CDs have gone. Many new cars don’t have a CD player.
In 2017 your phone is your source for everything, including in-car music. So join a streaming service, switch on Bluetooth, connect to your in-car system and voila — you have access to around 30 million tracks. Whether it’s Bach, The Beatles, Beastie Boys or Baba Maal who spins your wheels it’s there on either Spotify or Apple Music — the two services with the biggest cut-through in the New Zealand market.
On a recent road trip from Auckland to the East Coast I had the unenviable task of creating a playlist all the family would love.
I knew what my partner listened to — we share the same Spotify account — and asked my daughter to text me a list of tracks she wanted. The night before we left I sat down and went to work. There was Pink, The Chainsmokers and Melanie Martinez for the pre-teen and Alicia Keys and Etta James for my fiance.
I augmented this with some jazz, Americana, hip-hop and tracks from Jakob, one of my favourite bands from the place we were heading — Napier.
If my 12-year-old complained when some hard bop jazz came on I could tell her there was a Lorde song coming soon and Beyonce not far behind. Bonus — by the end of the trip she could tell the difference between a trumpet and a sax solo.
Free or premium?
Both streaming services offer a free tier. With Apple Music you’ll need to enter your credit card details and you get three months’ free trial. But be aware that offline listening and other features disappear once you’re out of the trial period. Spotify also offers a free tier and you don’t have to give your credit card details, you can stay on free for as long as you like. Just download the app and get started.
The downside? On the free tier you will be served ads. Spotify will play only on shuffle and you’re not able to download albums or tracks. Many I know bundle their Spotify with their monthly Spark payments. Whether you go that way or direct with Spotify at around $15 a month, or Apple or Tidal — there are often specials to attract new subscribers — streaming’s a no-brainer.
How to make playlists
I’ll concentrate on Spotify, but the process for Apple is similar.
Open the Spotify app on your phone — find a track you want to add to the playlist, hit the three dots on the right, hit “add to playlist”, hit create (top right), name your playlist, hit create (the blue one) — and a tick will come up telling you that this track has been successfully added. Repeat until you have a playlist you like.
Now download the playlist you’ve created. To do this, hit download (remember the download option is available only on Spotify premium). This will save the playlist to the app on your phone (make sure you have enough space). This may take a few minutes) — and when you play it on the road you will not be using costly mobile data.
You can share your playlist from this menu, too.
Download your playlists
To avoid drop-outs
Streaming is the future, but the past rules in many a gorge and country road. No mobile connection means no tunes and you’re at the mercy of whatever radio station your car radio can reach or that tatty bag of CDs in the boot. If you’ve downloaded the tracks you want to your phone, you’re still rockin’.
To save data and dollars
If you’re on a capped plan, streaming can become expensive. It makes more sense to download the tracks you want at home while connected to WiFi. An hour of streaming on Spotify can chew through up to 1.2 gigabytes. No one wants that kind of surprise to come home to.
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