The Internet's Top Music Streaming Services
First of all...
There are many option for streaming music from your computer or handheld device, but only a couple of them really stand out from the crowd and are worth using on a daily basis.Â It's important to consider several factors when choosing an online streaming music service:
- Cost: Do you have to pay to use this site?
- Audio Quality: Does it sound good, or is the audio highly compressed and degraded?
- Speed: Is the streaming uninterrupted?Â Do I need lightning fast internet connection?Â Can I use my wifi or 3g connection?
- Library: Does this service provide all of the songs I want to hear?
Â The Major Players
There are three services that acount for most streaming activity today: Pandora Radio, Grooveshark, and Last.fm.Â They are all great services and workth checking out -- and you can certainly mix and match as you please.Â Let's look at each of these streaming music sources in detail.
Pandora's mission is to "play only music you'll love".Â To accomplish this, the company's founders set out to build the Music Genome Project, an intricate analysis and mapping of the various aspects of songs and personal preferences.Â By letting Pandora what you like, you'll be able to hear music that is similar in genre, timbre, mood and feel.
This actually works quite well and makes Pandora a great place to discover new music that you've never heard by artists you've never heard of.Â The interface is elegant and easy to use, and the rating system is almost too simple.
There are two major drawbacks to Pandora.Â First, you cannot choose which song you want to listen to.Â Rather, you pick a song or artist, and it plays songs that you should enjoy.Â Second, Pandora now has advertisement after every few songs.Â Of course, you can always pay a small monthly fee to upgrade to the premium, ad-free Pandora Radio.
This is the original streaming music service.Â It's owned by CBS and has been around longer than Pandora or Grooveshark.Â Last.fm is more of a community than its rivals, and it seems to play much more indie music than other streaming websites. (Pandora, for example, is more geared toward the mainstream).
Like Pandora, Last.fm streams music based on your preferences.Â One cool feature is the "scrobbling" mechanism that Last.fm uses to rank songs.Â It basically crowdsources musical preferences to constantly update its library of tracks.
Last.fm is best for indie music fans who are always searching for new music and don't want to hear the same track played twice in one day.
This is my personal favorite streaming website out there.Â Unlike Pandora or Last.fm, Grooveshark lets you play music on demand.Â You can search for any song or artist and add it to your playlist, and you can save playlists and listen to them later.Â You can also browse playlists that other users have created, which is a great way to find new music.Â Like its counterparts, Grooveshark features a slick, fast interface.
If you're willing to put some time into it, Grooveshark is an amazing online music service.Â Best of all, it's totally free.Â However, if you want to "set it and forget it" you're better off using something like Pandora that will pick the next song for you.
Up and coming...
One more music streaming website that's worth checking out is Slacker Radio.Â It features a huge music library and is geared towards mobile streaming and station creation.Â A lot of people are switching from Pandora and Last.fm to Slacker.
We've covered the top music streaming websites and discussed the pros and cons of each.Â Now it's time to get out there and jam out to your favorite artists.Â Who knows, maybe you'll find some new favorites!