I've been a long-time user of streaming music services — from Pandora in college, to a monthly subscriber of Rhapsody while I was commuting from Cleveland to Sandusky, to Songza which I currently listen to at home and work. Since I started streaming music online to my computer and Android device, I rarely pay for MP3s.
Much like the options you have when you want to watch a movie or TV show online, there are many places you can go to get your Rolling Stones fix. If you have a computer or smartphone/tablet and a good connection (whether it's WiFi or using your data plan), streaming music services may be a better way to discover and listen to music.
What it is
Media streaming allows the user to listen to music on the Internet in real time. As opposed to the conventional method of obtaining music online — downloading files from the Internet to your desktop or device, the music can actually be listened to instantly without using up your hard drive storing all the MP3s. However, with streaming music you don't get to keep the song but you do have the advantage of choosing which songs you want to hear.
Where to stream
Just like Kindle tends to be the synonym for eReader, Pandora Radio seems to be the synonym for streaming radio. But there are many more options available. Here's what the experts over at PC Magazine deemed their top three streaming services:
The redesigned Slacker Radio has a deep music library, enhanced customization options, and a new music guide, but some minor interface issues crop up once in awhile. The free version has a lot of ads but Slacker Radio is available to streaming via a Roku box too.
Free with ads; $3.99/month for Slacker Radio Plus; $9.99/month for Slacker Premium.
Songza may not possess on-demand tracks and albums, but this free service specializes in community-based playlists that will appeal to die hard music fans that enjoy making mixes. Cool feature: The Music Concierge presents music based on time of day. Bonus feature: No audio ads.
Free with ads; no subscription options.
Online streaming music service Spotify has excellent audio, easy playlist formation, Facebook integration, and over 15 million tracks, but it is creates a massive drain on mobile devices and occasionally refuses to play WMA tracks.
Free with ads; $4.99/month for Unlimited; $9.99/month for Premium
I have noticed that if I’m working out at the YMCA or walking the dog at Osborn Park I sometimes drop the cell signal and cannot stream music. Additionally, I do download my three free MP3 tracks via Freegal music every week as a backup.
Are you a fan of streaming music? If so, what's your favorite site? Have you noticed a reduction in the amount of MP3s you download and purchase? Let’s chat about it.