The question of “Where can I find my favorite songs online?” has been there ever since digital music became available on the internet. One of the obvious answers to that question is streaming music platforms.
Services like Spotify not only provide you with a huge music catalog to choose from but also a chance to discover new music and create customized playlists that you can download to your devices (that is if you pay for the privilege).
Although music streaming services are a popular option, they’re not the only one. A surprising number of people still opt for listening the radio. In this article, we explain why you might want to start (or go back to) listening to internet radio, as well as showing you how to find the best internet radio stations out there for you.
Why Internet Radio?
Or as some of you may put it, “What’s wrong with Spotify?” Nothing in particular. It’s more of a personal choice question rather than a “right or wrong” type of situation.
However, to unlock some of the best features that Spotify has to offer you have to pay a monthly subscription. You can choose to pay the costly fees or get your free music online elsewhere.
Most of the internet radio services offer a listener-supported experience, meaning you won’t get exposed to as many ads as you will while using a streaming music platform.
What about recommendation algorithms? You know, when the streaming music platform analyzes the stuff you already put together in your playlists to help you discover new music that you’ll supposedly like. Well, sometimes you’re in the mood to just listen to good music, rather than be a DJ. internet radio stations allow you to just press Play, sit back, and enjoy music that you know you’ll love. And you’ll only ever need to do anything if you hear something you don’t like.
Find Your All-Time Favorites
If you’re already accustomed to listening to the radio and know what your favorite stations are, a good first step would be to search for their online output. Today, most of the radio stations have their own online presence, so you can enjoy their broadcasts live without having a physical radio in the house.
Instead of a playlist, you choose a station that matches your music tastes. You also get to discover more new music than you would have otherwise. The best part? All the work is done by someone else and you don’t have to be your own DJ.
Discover New Radio Stations
For those of you willing to be exposed not only to new music, but to new radio stations as well, we bring good news. There are several services available online designed specifically to help you tune into any radio station from all four corners of the world.
With Radio Garden you can take an audio trip around the world, listening to a vast number of radio stations as you go.
The stations are marked out by green dots. Simply rotate the map and click on the dots to join the broadcast of your choice. You can zoom in and out to see more or fewer listings. Some places will have more than one station under one dot. In that case, they’ll appear in the form of a list in the lower right-hand corner.
The only downside of the platform is that it doesn’t offer any recommendations, so it might take some time for you to locate the radio station(s) that fit in with your tastes.
Last.fm is one of the pioneers of internet radio, and it still has a devoted fanbase. A number of genre-based stations, as well as great artist and track suggestions, will help you find the music that suits both your tastes and mood. All based on your previous activity on the site.
Use one of the numerous apps, music players, and services from the site to track your music and make your listening experience on Last.fm more personalized.
internetRadio is another platform with dozens of thousands of radio stations sorted by popularity, genre, and era. You can find anything from Smooth Jazz to Japanese and Psychedelic music pieces in seconds. There’s even an option to create your own radio station and host your broadcasts on the platform.
Have a look at the “featured” and “popular” lists if you’re looking for other user picks. You can see what’s playing right now before you start listening in, as well as how many people are tuned into the station at that moment.
Price: Free or $1/month for TuneIn Pro (iOS, Android, and BlackBerry only)
TuneIn also allows you to search the globe by location, genre, station type, or even a station’s name before you start listening.
You can browse your music (and podcasts) both on the web and on your smartphone. A free mobile app is available for Android, iPhone or iPad, BlackBerry, WebOS, and Windows Phone. For an upgraded real-life radio experience you can pay $1/month and get a premium version. It allows you to record live radio and play it back later, pause live radio, rewind broadcasts, and more.
Price: Free or $4/month for Slacker Plus or $10/month for Slacker Premium
Slacker Radio is all about personalization. It has an impressive music library with genre-specific channels and playlists curated by actual human DJs. As you listen you can customize your stations by giving Slacker feedback about what you like and removing the artists that you don’t enjoy. The stations are constantly rotating and playlists evolve with new tunes added and old, unloved tunes removed. In this way the platform straddles the line between letting you tune into someone else’s station and setting up your own playlist full of songs you love.
Similar to TuneIn, it has mobile apps available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, WebOS, and Windows Phone.
Customized Internet Radio
If you’re anything like me you’ll sometimes find yourself having an issue with a radio station’s output. The problem is you don’t want to commit to Spotify, where you’re completely in control. Thankfully, there’s a middle-ground solution for you: customized internet radio stations.
Price: Free or $5/month for iHeartRadio Plus or $10/month for iHeartRadio All Access (both come with a free 30-day trial)
Use iHeartRadio’s interactive welcome screen to inform the platform all about your favorite genres. You’ll then have various stations recommended to you. You can also type in the name of your favorite artist to get a list of stations broadcasting their songs at that moment.
You can use an ad-supported version of the source for free. However, to skip commercials and access the platform’s cool Spotify-like features you have to pay $5–$10/month. Available both on the web and mobile apps.
Price: Free or $5/month for Pandora Plus with a free 7-day trial or $10/month for Pandora Premium with a free 60-day trial
Pandora is still technically an internet radio site. One that promises to deliver new music based on the songs you already enjoy. All you need to do is give Pandora the name of the artist or a song that you like, and you can then sit back and enjoy similar music that Pandora thinks you’ll love. You can further help Pandora get to know you by giving a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down to individual tracks.
Like Spotify, Pandora only allows you to skip a certain number of songs within a given time period. Pandora mobile apps are available for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and WebOS.
Should You Stay or Should You Go?
“There are only two kinds of people: those who use music streaming services and those who listen to internet radio,” said no one ever. Until me, just now.
Which one is right for you comes down to what sort of music you enjoy and what you’re in the mood for. internet radio offers a different way of listening, and it has some serious perks attached, like being constantly exposed to new music, and (for the most part) being free.
With this information at hand you should have all the knowledge needed to begin the search for your favorite radio stations. But before you go, we’d like to hear your thoughts.
How often do you listen to internet radio? What makes you choose internet radio over music streaming services? What’s your favorite internet radio station? And how did you find it? Please let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Andrey VP via Shutterstock.com