Top Music Streaming Services
By Branko Miletic
Remember the good old CD? I do – I can’t forget it even if I tried. I have a living room, office, bedroom and car full of CD’s, most of which carry music of various genres. But these days, how we listen and store music is changing, going from hard copy to cloud copy. Streaming music is not the way of the future – it is the here and now. And by that I don’t mean iTunes, which is technically not a streaming music service (or not yet I should say), and while it would be tempting to just use iTunes for your audio gratification, there are so many other services out there that quite literally, we are spoilt for choice. Here are some of my favourites
In ancient Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman who also liked to give free stuff to people making Pandora the grandmother of music streaming services. It is supposedly unavailable outside the US, the best way to get around this is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service like I do which makes any US-only music streaming service think you are over there rather than over here. Pandorasays it uses DJs to put together their music lists, so even if you type in an obscure genre (like say West African hip hop), Pandora will find all the latest and greatest West African Hip Hop artists for you.
Another oldie but goodie is Grooveshark, which despite its name, is not solely restricted to jazz buffs. Gooveshark, like Pandora, has been around since Napster sang its last tune so by now ithas lot of radio stations to choose from. Yes it’s streaming online radio in a way that allows you to search for any song on the website, create a personalised playlist and watch videos. It’s a bit like having your own online radio station where you can only search by genre and not by any actual radio stations. I typed in ’African Rap’ and it’s instantly pulled up a huge number of songs. To get the most out of Grooveshark, it will help if you install the latest browser and Adobe Flash Player so it works smoothly.
Playlist.com is the world's largest music community, with nearly 50 million music fans that discover, create, organise, enjoy and share their music playlists with each other. Playlist allows you to create your own personal music experience by building playlists for every mood, genre, activity and occasion. You can recommend music to others by sharing your playlists on your social network profile or blog.Playlist says their mission in life is to “bring you the greatest collection of music playlists in the world; to help you share your musical loves with your world; to be the place where you discover cool new music; and to make the whole thing fun and easy to do”. That’s a big call, and only time will tell if they have achieved this goal.
Here is one program that you won’t need a VPN for due to the fact it’s just been launched in Australia. Spotify has been designed as your very own music library with millions of tracks to choose from. Spotify is available for your PC, Mac, home audio system and even your mobile phone. Since the music is live, there’s no need to wait for downloads and with 15 million songs ready to be downloaded instantly, it’s interesting to see how Spotify will fare Down Under as it has some serious competition.
Last.fm is perhaps the quintessential cloud-based music streaming service. Working a bit like iTunes, it keeps a record of what you listen to and then recommends new and similar tracks. I don’t know if I am a fan of this as sometimes it can get it totally wrong. I mean just because I like listening to Duffy and Joss Stone does not mean I will also enjoy Ninetka or any of the raft of other femme fatale songstresses. That aside, Last.fm is easy to use and easy to set up, which these days are a must for success. Last.fm also combines a social media function that shows you what others are listening to. Again, not a bad idea, but if your tastes are as hard to please as mine, this may not be as useful for you as you may like. Regardless Last.fm is worth a serious try.
Rhapsody says that for just ’10 bucks a month’ you can access all the music you want. Rhapsody is the latest breed of ‘all you can eat’ streaming music services that for a small fee allows you to gorge on a multi-million strong audio database. And yes, you can download it to your phone and have music ‘on the go’ 24×7. It even supports Android which is great but you will need a VPN for this service as it seems we are not that important down here in the Never-Never.