Many of us have wondered, “where can I listen to music online for me?”. In trying to answer this question, we end up on sites that have poor quality music, terrible collections, ads every two seconds, lag and other issues. This only leads to frustration and a general distaste for streaming music. However, there are sites and apps out there with great high-quality music and few, if any, of the complications. This list will cover the best options for those in the U.S. If you are outside the country, you may have to unblock the content with a VPN.
Pandora is an internet radio service that has more than revolutionized the user’s listening experience. Though it is an internet radio, it is set up in such a way that a user determines the kind of music he/she listens to. This individualized music setting is what has set Pandora apart from most other streaming sites.
The user chooses his/her own radio station by selecting songs, artists or genres. A user also has the option to browse through and select stations created by other users. Based on the user’s choice(s) Pandora also recommends a list of songs, artists or genres that are similar. To determine whether the recommended songs should be played, the user has to rate the songs that he/she listens to. This is done with either a thumbs up or thumbs down sign.
Pandora provides the user with the ability to buy the song if he/she so chooses, from either Amazon or iTunes. Users can also learn more about the song’s compositions and either remove songs or move them to other stations. Pandora’s other unique feature is that it allows users to censor songs if they wish.
- The user’s ability to remove songs or skip them is very limited. The user cannot downvote songs for more than 12 times in 24 hours. Continuous down voting results in the user’s temporary ban from skipping songs.
- Pandora is only available in the U.S.
- Availability for Windows Mobile is limited to select handsets. Thus, users that are not in this category have to get the app from third parties.
- For free users, it features ads between the songs.
Platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Mobile Client.
Aside from giving us Podcasts, iHeart Radio takes the Pandora model a step further. Users have the option to customize their own stations and listen to music that they prefer based on songs or artists of their choosing. iHeart Radio goes a step further and allows the user to select from iHeart’s pre-customized stations, which are also based on songs or artists. Furthermore, iHeart Radio provides a live radio streaming option.
Much like Pandora, iHeart also has a like and dislike functions. Songs that are disliked are removed from the station and those that are liked are played frequently. Live stations receive feedback when you like or dislike them. The radio learns from the user’s preferences and provides bonus songs based on them. Users have the ability to remove songs easily, at will and without limitation.
- iHeart Radio is only available in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
Platforms: iHeart Radio is available across over 90 platforms. These cut across smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, automobiles, gaming consoles, wearables, online, and home audio.
Slacker Radio is a customizable streaming internet radio. It allows the user to customize his/her listening experience from a number of pre-programmed stations such as Blues, Alternative, Chill, among others. The user also has the option of customizing stations based on artists or songs. The user also gets a list of songs or artists as recommendations based on the selected artists or songs.
The users have the ability to like or ban songs or artists, which helps improve the customization. Recommendations are based on these likes and bans. Slacker Radio also allows the user to arrange the stations based on newer or older music, the breadth or specificity of the artists and songs and so on.
- Slacker Radio is only available in the U.S. and Canada.
- The basic or free service is ad-supported, which means there are a number of interruptions.
Platforms: Slacker Radio is web-based but features mobile app support for all phones including those running on Android, Windows, iOS, among others.
8Tracks is a music streaming and social networking site. It’s designed to allow users to stream content that’s curated by the users. The listening experience offered by 8Tracks is quite different from what most other free music streaming sites offer. 8Tracks allows the user to create his/her own mixes or listen to mixes created by other users. Aside from that, the users can select music based on artists, genre or using descriptive tags in a cloud feature. The user customizes his/her playlist by skipping or liking songs. The user has the option to like an entire album or a specific song in an album.
The social networking feature allows users to follow each other. By following another user, you subscribe to that user’s mixes. Users can also share mixes on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Syncing with these other networks allows a user to find common “friends” across the networks and connect with them on 8Tracks.
A user can only skip three songs per playlist, and the number of skips is restored on the next playlist. A user’s favorite music and that of the user’s friends shows up on a feed, from where a user can easily search. Users can also buy music via iTunes.
- 8Tracks only allows three skips per mix, which is quite restricting.
- The service is only available in the U.S. and Canada.
Platforms: 8Tracks is web-based but has a mobile app for iOS and Android platforms. The app is also available on XBOX 360, Social media and the Windows platform, including PCs.