These days there are so many ways to listen to free music online that one could become slightly overwhelmed by the choices. Never fear – we’ve done some investigation into the best music services out there and can let you know what’s popular and tell you a little bit about the sorts of music you can find on these services.
MakeUseOf also recently ran a poll on the top online streaming services which concluded that Grooveshark, Pandora and Last.fm are the most popular services amongst our readers. We’ll give you a quick run-down on those services and point you in the direction of some other popular alternatives.
The Top Online Music Streaming Services
Grooveshark is the online music streaming provider of choice at the moment. It has an extensive music library, but if you want to add your own tracks, that’s an option too. It lets you make playlists as well as offering easy access to popular music.
For more details, read more about Grooveshark here.
Pandora was one of the first online music streaming services and it is still very popular today, despite not being available outside the US. Pandora uses experienced DJs to piece together similar music, so you can give it a band name or a genre and let Pandora help you explore new music you might like. This simple premise is what makes it so great.
Last.fm is what most people outside the US turned to in place of Pandora, basically because you can listen by tag, recommended similar artists, things your friends recommend, things that your “neighbours” listen to (i.e. people who listen to similar stuff to you), playlists, event radio (random stuff by artists playing at any event), group radio stations or your own radio station (of music you listen to – which is good if you’re away from your music collection).
Read more about Last.fm here. It’s slightly limited for free users in some countries (because they didn’t click on enough ads) but for a small subscriber fee, you can do anything. It’s really good for exploring new music and I personally love it. Plus, since you can scrobble your tracks from most places, you can listen to music anywhere and keep building your own radio station on Last.fm.
The New Players & Alternative Options In Music Exploration
YouTube Disco (YouTube.com/disco) is a neat way to listen to new music. Just give it a band name and it will make you a playlist to listen to. There’s a Greasemonkey script which can let you scrobble from YouTube to Last.fm too.
Mog is a really powerful way of playing music online with easy recommendations from friends. It links into Facebook and iTunes. There’s a free account type, but it is limited. If you’re willing to pay a little per month you can do some awesome things with a smartphone. If you’re heading to somewhere where you can’t use internet, MOG lets you download entire playlists to your phone. If you’re a Rhapsody subscriber, it lets you listen to Rhapsody tunes through Mog too. Plus, it scrobbles to Last.fm.
What more could you want?
Spotify is available for free, but the more interesting features are available only to subscribers. It’s heavily linked with Facebook so you can play your friends’ playlists.
Premium subscribers get an offline mode for listening when you’re nowhere near internet access.
Jamendo is a free music directory of independent artists. Most of it is pretty good, too.
Bandcamp is another directory of music artists. Much of it is free or available after handing over your email address, while the rest can be bought for a modest fee.
Blip.fm lets you follow random DJs and spin tunes for your own entertainment and for your friends. It’s heavily integrated to Twitter, so you can share your music even further. Plus, it also scrobbles to Last.fm.
The Sixty One
TheSixtyOne is a very interesting music exploration site. It gives you far less choice than many of the alternatives, but the music and interface are such that you just keep wanting to come back for more – and it scrobbles to Last.fm too!
Shoutcast is really a directory of internet radio stations, but it’s incredibly easy to find a station featuring music you like.
is like a crowdsourced radio – everyone gets a say, but no-one’s entirely in charge. This can make for some pretty interesting listening.
Rhapsody is a pay-only service, but I thought it deserved a mention on this list as it’s pretty popular these days.
If that’s not enough…
If these don’t do it for you, here’s a few more services you might like to try: We are hunted; Musicovery; Rdio; Jango; Deezer; Slacker radio; Listen Music; Shuffler; Mufin; Mugasha; Tunesbag; The Radio; Uvumi; StumbleAudio; MoodTraxxer; Jogli; Musopen; MTV Music; StereoMood.
If you need more music tools, try these:
- 3 web tools to stay on top of the music scene
- 10 music search engines to find new music and bands
- 10 free ways to discover music online
- 3 social networks to discover and share new tunes
- Top 10 websites for free & legal MP3 music downloads
- 3 best sites for alternative music lovers
- 3 sources to stream or download live music for free
- 3 more exciting ways to discover free music
- 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now
- 7 sites to get free music (legally!)
- The best sites to download free music
- 5 websites to listen to music matching your mood
- 6 resources a Jazz fan needs to find the best Jazz music
- Read the Sound Sunday archives and explore indie music
- DOWNLOAD: The internet music guide for the audiophile
The internet music scene certainly keeps us on our toes. If you know of more up-and-coming music exploration sites, let us know in the comments!
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