You may have a ton of music on your local hard drive that is getting old, maybe you don’t want to buy any music off iTunes, or maybe you just need an expansion of taste. In any case, online streaming radio is here to save the day!
Today, we will talk about the top 5 online radio stations to fit your musical horizons.
(Note: Check out the radio tag for more related web apps.)
Sky.fm, although not necessarily a “top-dog”, certainly features the best list of online streaming radio stations out of any site.
Sky.fm does not require a “premium” subscription for any of its radio stations, although it is optional and will get you an upgrade to a 256kbps stream (which is high quality) audio. For free users, radio stations can be played at up to 96kbp (which is slightly less than the standard 128kbps). Premium subscriptions are $4.95 per month.
Sky.fm features genres ranging from: alternative rock, classic rock, flamenco, raggea, smooth jazz, and so on. One huge reason really hits home though: commercial free. This is extremely rare among online radio stations and is one of the most annoying things about traditional AM/FM radio.
The most popular of all online radio directories, Shoutcast picks up streams from all across the web, organized in a number of ways that are extremely helpful. Shoutcast makes it easy to find thousands of streaming alternative rock, jazz, reggae, country, blues, etc. Shoutcast can even show you what is currently playing on any specific stream, what the bitrate is, how many listeners, and the format of the stream. I highly recommend checking it out.
Soma fm, with an even smaller listening audience than Sky.fm, features a great variety of Indie, Techno, Trance, Ambient, and Lounge music. Like Sky.fm, Soma fm does not feature ads, but does not have a premium feature (their only source of income is donations).
Each of the 18 stations though features a 128kbps MP3 stream for free. Another nice thing about Soma fm is that they place an entire set list/playlist of currently playing and previously playing songs, which is something that is absent on many online streaming radio stations.
Another extremely popular streaming radio site, AccuRadio has its fair share of pros and cons. Like the previously mentioned shoutcast, AccuRadio offers a wide variety of hundreds of stations of multiple genres, tailored precisely for you (with more of a Pandora kind of tailored radio).
The only con that can be easily determined, is that you must have your web browser open to listen to any AccuRadio station, unlike the more popular and convenient method of downloading a small playlist file and listening through your desktop. Still a very useful streaming site.
1Club.fm is a relatively popular, multi-genre, radio station directory that will not disappoint. With over 90 different channels, finding your taste is of course not a problem. Simply click a link to any of the radio stations, listen in your browser, or download a .pls streaming audio file for quick access.
The only problem I had when listening to any of the stations was the quality/bitrate of the streams. Of the stations I tested, the only stream rate I could get was 64kbps (which is about half of the average mp3 bitrate). In any case, if your looking for a specific genre you will likely find it on 1Club.
Looking at the related articles MakeUseOf published in the past, I would like to bring your attention to:
What online radio stations do you listen to? Tell us in the comments!