Top Five Music Streaming Services

It is an amazing time to be a music lover. We live in an era where we have access to any and all music we could ever dream of, most of which can be found for free legally. It seems like every month a new music streaming service is created, and with so many options it can feel overwhelming to just pick one to listen to. I listen to a variety of services, and I wanted to share my personal top five choices.

Honorable Mentions:
Grooveshark – I am not a huge fan of its interface, but it has a huge music library and cool playlists.
Last.fm – I love the hell out of this site, but I use it more for statistical purposes than online streaming.
Rdio – Slick design with a massive library.
Slacker Radio – Good variety of radio stations created by actual DJs.
Soma.fm – Commercial free internet radio. Love their Groove Salad station.


5) 8tracks

8tracks labels itself as “handcrafted internet radio” which is a nice way of saying it has user-curated playlists. This is one for the inner DJ in you, as you can jump right in and create new mixes any way you want. If you would rather listen, there are countless playlists available, many of which contain inspired selections. The only downside is that you aren’t able to see what songs are on each mix beforehand due to copyright issues (and you can only skip a certain amount of songs). Still, these playlists are an excellent way to discover new music, and not knowing what’s coming next can be a lot of fun.

4) Pandora

Arguably the most popular service on the list, Pandora is an oldie but a goodie. Thanks to its “Music Genome Project“, Pandora is intelligently able to play similar music for any artist or genre. While there are occasional hiccups with its guesses, for the most part the service does a bang-up job. The website also gets bonus points for being incredibly well-designed and easy to use, plus it has apps on pretty much every modern electronic device you can think of.

3) Songza

A recent discovery for me, Songza is a web radio service with unique user-created playlists. What differentiates this service from others is that it will help you find a radio station based on the time of day and your current mood. For example, a weekday evening can present you with options for cooking, working out or winding down after a long day. From there, it will ask for a genre and then present you with a handful of suggestions. More often than not, these recommendations are dead-on and I end up falling in love with the stations. Of course, if you just want to find a certain genre or mood, you can easily do this manually as well. It’s like 8tracks but in radio form rather than a strict playlist. Also available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

2) Turntable.fm

Turntable.fm is easily the most fun of all of these services. It is also the most social of the bunch, as it is basically a hybrid of a chat room and DJ party. The premise is simple: select an avatar, find a room then hop on the decks and start DJing. Users can “awesome” or “lame” the songs being played, and points are accrued based on how positive of a reaction your track gets. Points, in turn, are used to get new avatars, some of which are really cool. I have found certain rooms are excellent ways to discover new music, plus you get to meet some cool people along the way. Also available on iOS and Android.

1) Spotify

This is the future of music, folks. Spotify is a stand-alone program with an iTunes-like structure, and it seamlessly integrates both your personal MP3 library with its massive streaming collection. Their playlist system is incredibly easy to use, and there are now dozen of apps that are quite useful for discovering new music. My personal favorite is Share My Playlists, which compiles countless user-curated lists of all genres and themes. The service is also integrated with Facebook, meaning you can quickly share/discover music with your friends. For its diversity and sheer amount of options available, Spotify can’t be beat. I gladly pay $5/month to remove the advertisements.

What do you guys think? What is your favorite music streaming service? Anything I missed?

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26 thoughts on “Top Five Music Streaming Services

  1. Pete says:

    Loving Spotify, never heard of any of these others but if Spotify is your number one, then do I really need to? Might even consider starting to pay for it one of these days!

    • Eric says:

      Spotify is still my main source for music, but it’s nice to supplement it with some of these other services. I recommend checking out Songza or Turntable.fm at least, as they are a lot of fun and quite a bit different from Spotify.

    • Eric says:

      Nice! I did try out the premium service a few months ago when we took a couple long road trips, and it was awesome. I love how you can store playlists offline for easy use. Would definitely pay the $10/month for that if I had a car. 😀

  2. Jaina says:

    I’ve been using spotify for years. I remember being part of the beta group and everyone being quietly excited about this new music service. I pay for it and have it streaming in my car or wherever I am. Can’t not have it. Collaborative playlists are brilliant too – especially for parties when everyone’s got different tastes. Get them to pick what they want!

    • Eric says:

      Oh yeah, great call on the collaborative playlists! I was so happy when Spotify came over the U.S. last summer. It really reignited my passion for music, and I have been hooked ever since. I think I have close to 50 playlists saved. 😀

    • Eric says:

      Grooveshark is my backup option if I’m using a computer without Spotify. It’s definitely a great service, too. Thanks for the comment, Jaskee!

    • Eric says:

      Yup, absolutely. I also just discovered the ability to start a radio station based on an existing playlist. Another awesome way to find new music!

    • Eric says:

      Cheers! Glad I could be of help. It really is overwhelming to have so many options, but I think that’s a good problem to have. 🙂

  3. Chris says:

    I listened to all The Cure albums on spotify this year, very useful service.

    There are many good music sites but I still use youtube the most, old habits die hard!

    • Eric says:

      That’s funny you mention that. I asked a couple friends before writing this post what they use for online streaming, and they both said they use YouTube the most. It’s definitely an awesome resource as well, especially when you find high quality live performances, remixes, etc.

  4. bbbgtoby says:

    last i checked Spotify wasn’t licensed for use in Australia but this post has reminded to check again. It’s been a while.

    Last.fm used to be free streaming in browser (back in the day cos I’m old school) and it was ok, the second it went pay I stopped using it for anything other than stats (as you said) and recommendations. I love recommendations. It takes the intensive research out of finding new music.

    • Eric says:

      We didn’t get Spotify here in the U.S. until just last summer, so there may be hope for you guys yet. I remember the old days of Last.fm fondly, back when it was an Audioscrobbler plugin only available for Winamp and the like. I’m still baffled as to how that site blew up so quick. Now it’s on Xbox and all that. Crazy.

      • bbbgtoby says:

        Spotify losing points now, yes as of 6 weeks ago it was available here in Australia but it also requires a facebook account. So I say eff them in the bee, especially Mark Zuckerberg.

        • Eric says:

          Yeah, it’s lame that you need a Facebook account… but hey, you could always make a fake one. It’s worth it to at least check it out.

  5. Anders says:

    Great collection of sites you have here! A few of them I haven’t heard about. I mostly use last.fm, to find new music similar to the one I already like and to just have in the background when working (yes, I work with computers haha). I am happy that its free in UK, but when I go to Sweden on trips, then it is not free anymore… Anyway, you can’t get all in the world everywhere 🙂 Great post as always man! Informative!

    • Eric says:

      Haha, I know how you feel about needing background music. I work using computers all day, and I would go batty without being able to listen to some tunes. It definitely helps make the work more enjoyable. 😀 Thanks for the kind words!

  6. Fun Factory says:

    I really enjoy MixCloud! As a DJ I can safely say it is the best way to get live recordings and mixtapes online. They require you to put in a tracklist, so listeners can identify tracks they like, giving credit to the original artist. Best part is, its all free.

    • Eric says:

      Hi FF, thanks for the heads up on Mixcloud! I’m not familiar with that one at all, but it sounds pretty cool. I’ll be sure to check it out.

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