Sometimes, the only way I can get through the workday is by listening to my favourite tracks. However, downloading or importing music onto my work computer is not an option.
Enter music streaming sites – these handy players allow users to listen to their favourite genres, artists and/or songs straight from the “cloud.”
We’ve rounded up some of the most popular music sites and researched and tested all they have to offer so you can easily pick which one works best for you:
Ultimate music library:
Price: Free for the first six months. Subscriptions ranging from $4.99 – $17.99 a month, depending on how much access you want.
What is it: A web-based streaming service similar to Spotify (available in the US) that boasts its impressive library of songs, from massive hits to rare gems to cult classics.
Pros: Option to listen to specific artists, tracks, and albums. Create your own playlists or stream stations. Offline mode also available, which is convenient if you’re travelling and have no Internet connection.
Cons: Somewhat high subscription fee and the six months free trial is dependent on how many tracks you listen to per month (in other words, there’s a certain allotment of songs you can listen to). Also, new releases take longer to appear on Rdio than they would on iTunes or Amazon.
More features: Set playlists include “Heavy Rotation” (trending albums recommended by Rdio based on who you follow and what you listen to), “Top Charts” and “New releases”.
Apps: Desktop and mobile (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows), tablet, Roku Sonos speaker system and wireless speakers.
In short: If you’re looking for a replacement to purchasing individual tracks on iTunes, Rdio is for you. It’s a great way to discover new music, create playlists and connect with friends and other users, and it works seamlessly on several different platforms.
The modern-day mixtape:
What is it: A “music concierge” that curates playlists based on the time of day, what you’re doing (ie. cooking, starring in a rom-com, working out), mood and musical preferences.
Pros: Unlike other music streaming sites that use algorithms to recommend tracks, Songza uses real-life music experts to curate the perfect playlist for every occasion. The result? Unlimited streaming of playlists that catered to your musical preferences.
Cons: You can’t choose specific tracks to listen to (though you can search for specific artists and Songza will recommend playlists that prominently feature those artists), you can only create playlists on the desktop site, and you can’t listen to your own playlists (due to licensing restrictions).
More features: Follow your friends’ playlists and share what you’re listening to via social media.
App: iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, Blackberry
In short: If you’re open to listening to new music and don’t care about specific tracks, Songza is the site for you. Think of it as a customized soundtrack to your life.
Price: Free, with ads, or $9/month and $90/year for premium-subscription service
What is it: Music streaming site/peer-to-peer network.
Pros: Unlike other music streaming sites, you can play a track without registering for an account. You also have the ability to rewind tracks (a rarity when it comes to streaming sites).
Cons: Most of the good features (access to mobile and desktop apps, unlimited library space and customizable skins) are only available to paid subscribers. Also, there are plenty of duplicate tracks, many of which are of terrible quality due to user uploads.
More features: Upload music (except for tracks from iTunes), see what your friends are listening to in real-time, and follow other users like you would on other social networking sites. Register as an artist to share and distribute your own music and receive analytics on how well your tracks are doing.
App: Android, BlackBerry, Symbian, Palm/HP and jailbroken iPhones, iPads and iPod touches and desktop with subscription. Non-subscribers can use the HTML5 mobile webapp.
Ads: Yes, for free users. No for premium-subscribers.
In short: Grooveshark is a quick and easy way to stream and download music (though there are those legality issues), but if you’re looking for a long-term music streaming option, skip this pick. It is useful, however, for emerging artists to share their music with others.
For the social sharer:
Price: Free, or roughly $5/month or $45/year for Pro account and $14/month or $155/year for Unlimited Pro account.
What is it: A “social sound platform” that allows users to promote and distribute sound (not just music) online (basically a social networking site based on the sharing of sounds).
Pros: Probably one of the most advanced sites when it comes to social integration. Users can easily promote their sounds on several different social networks, or have the option to share privately with friends and family, or with themselves (perfect for listening to your guilty pleasure *cough*One Direction*cough shamelessly).
Cons: As its library consists of user uploads, there isn’t as much selection of music as other streaming sites. However, plenty of artists have created their own accounts so fans can stream music free. Also, the subscription fee is quite pricey.
More features: Specific user URLs (great for artists creating accounts), see the shape of your sounds with the unique SoundCloud waveform player and timed comments that allow you to give feedback at specific moments of a track. Pro accounts allow for more hours of playback and more downloads, and access to comprehensive stats on your uploads.
App: Available on iPhone. Also, Soundcloud offers “The App Gallery” which consists of over 100 apps that work with SoundCloud on almost every platform. Developers can also build and customize apps
In short: If you loved MySpace, you’ll love SoundCloud. It’s a great way to share your own music, or songs you love with your social network.
Site: Twitter #Music
What is it: Freshly launched in April, #Music is a way for users to see which songs and artists are trending on the social network. The app uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement to “detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists.”
Pros: Visually appealing, user-friendly, and a wide range of music (including brand new tracks) to listen to.
Cons: The app only features 60-second preview of each track (provided by iTunes). You’ll need to connect to another music streaming site (Spotify and Rdio) or purchase the song on iTunes in order to listen to full tracks.
More features: Music is broken up into five different categories: popular (new music trending on Twitter), emerging (“Hidden talent found in the Tweets”), suggested (artists you might like), #nowplaying (tweeted by people you follow), and me (artists you follow). And of course, built-in follow and tweet buttons on each track.
App: Web and iPhone
In short: Twitter #Music is a great way to discover new artists and music, but isn’t meant to be a replacement to your existing music apps.