Consumers have left CDs in the dust and are now turning away from digital music files as well. Streaming is quickly becoming the king of music delivery mediums. Here’s a look at several of the most popular streaming services.
Spotify allows users to search for their favorite artists and stream a wide range of music instantly. The service integrates with Facebook to make sharing playlists and new music a breeze. Spotify is free with ad support, though users can upgrade to an ad-free paid service with enhanced features.
Wirelessly streams more than 13 million songs
Syncs with home music library
Paid version allows Spotify tracks to play in offline mode
Paid version allows streaming through mobile devices
Advertising (or the biggest annoyance ever, though with paid version, there are no ads)
Decreased sound quality with free version
Music library is limited and missing classic artists such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles and some recent popular songs
—Compiled by Staff Writer Courtney Rogin
Pandora is an online music player that allows users to create personalized radio stations. The Music Genome Project categorizes songs based upon musical qualities such as harmony, melody and vocals. Pandora members can then use the Genome to generate as many as 100 stations and personalize each by liking or disliking songs. The best part is Pandora is free and available on almost any media player. For music listeners who want to enjoy ad-free stations, the subscription cost for computers is $36 per year and $3.99 per month for phones and tablets.
Access to Pandora on many media players
Features 80,000 artists
Provides lyrics or link to buy songs
Only available in the United States
An ad-free subscription costs $36
Limited skip capability of 12 songs per 24 hours
Only 800,000 tracks
—Compiled by Staff Writer Brooke Schlyer
SoundCloud is a music sharing service that doubles as a social networking website. This site allows users to upload, record or share music, providing members with their own URL so they can embed the music they upload to other websites. SoundCloud works with Facebook and Twitter, so users can access their audiences more easily and broaden their fanbase at the same time.
SoundCloud issues its music via applications and widgets. Members can put songs on their website and SoundCloud will automatically Tweet when new songs or sets are uploaded.
SoundCloud, which is based in Europe, presents free limited access to users. Paid versions offer more features, starting at 29 Euros per month (around $38). The paid version is geared toward artists, offering expanded stats, more upload and sharing capacity, and the ability to create sets.
Can upload and share user-created musicon multiple platforms
Can imbed songs in other websites and blogs
Minimal buffering; music plays very quickly and smoothly
One-click sharing through social media services
Unable to make playlists without signing up for an account
Uploaded music capped at 120 minutes and 100 downloads for free version
Tiered paid versions get expensive quickly
—Compiled by Staff Writer Samantha Hirsch
Last.fm allows users to link with their music players to “scrobble,” or record, their listening history. The service provides members with a report of their listening habits and recommends new bands. Last.FM radio allows users to create stations centered around bands, genres or songs.
Has wide selection of artists
Users can share artists with other users
Links with Facebook and other social media networks
Artist recommendations are not always helpful
Cannot search by song, only by artist
Cannot create playlists
Can be difficult to use at times
—Compiled by Staff Writer Connor Cox
Streaming music website 8tracks fancies itself a disc jockey’s paradise, and it may have a point. With unlimited ability to upload and share playlists and mixes with a very active and social community for free, what’s not to like? The service functions similar to Twitter. Users can follow their favorite members, give feedback through comments and share particularly interesting lists through other social media outlets.
Free with a potentially limitless amount of tracks
Apps for iPhone, iPod touch and Android
Themed playlists, searchable by individual DJs, artists or genre tags
Social media integration
Cannot search by individual tracks
Cannot view tracks on a playlist prior to play through
Spotty performance on slower-running machines
—Compiled by Entertainment Editor John Anderson