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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?