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Our Favorite Music Streaming Services

posted by Suzanne Kantra on May 08, 2012 in Music & Video Services, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, BlackBerry Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Windows Phone Apps, Music and Video, Guides & Reviews :: 7 comments

There are lots of music services out there, so the challenge is figuring out which one to use. All of my picks have large free music libraries, mobile apps and the ability to share your music through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. (I didn’t consider cloud storage services, like iCloud, SkyDrive or SugarSync, which only stream music you own.) But from there the features and pricing vary and will appeal based on how you like to enjoy music.

Here are the four services I like to use and why. For a side-by-side comparison of my picks, check out the feature chart below.

Spotify

I turn to Spotify when I want to listen to a specific track or find out what my friends are listening to. If you’re a social music listener, this is the service for you. And if you opt into a $9.99 per month subscription, you can take your music with you on a mobile device and listen to it off-line.

Slacker

This is my favorite paid subscription service. Slacker gives me complete control over what I listen to streamed or off-line, with skip forward and back plus caching of individual tracks or whole stations of music. Like Pandora, Slacker lets me fine tune stations by like or banning songs and adds the ability to ban artists.

Songza

Instead of focusing on an artist or genre, Songza lets me pick music to match my mood or activity. There are stations for when I’m brooding, when I’m working out or when I’m just waking up in the morning. I can even check out recommendations by time of day or limit selections to music without lyrics, if I’m working. It would be my favorite it there were a paid option that let me skip more than six tracks per hour and let me listen off-line.

Pandora

When I want to listen to a specific type of music, I turn to Pandora. The service does the best job of building a station around a track or artist of my choosing and it lets me fine tune the station with like and ban buttons.

Music Streaming Services
 Name Spotify Slacker Songza Pandora
Music curation method Algorithm based on station creator's artist preferences Human DJs or algorithm based on station creator's preferences. You fine tune what you hear Human curators. Fine tune what you hear Algorithm based on station creator's artist preferences. Fine tune what you hear
Stations 28 based on genre, user-generated based on artists and tracks 195 based on genre, artist and theme, user-generated based on artists and tracks Thousands based on genre, artist, theme, mood and activity Thousands based on artist, track and gemre
Music library 18 million + 8 million + 14.5 million + 900,000 +
Mobile ad-free $9.99 per month Plus: $3.99, Premium: $9.99 None $36 per year
Desktop ad-free $4.99 per month None, just as part of mobile package None None, just as part of mobile package
Track skips per hour Free: unlimited (Radio not available for mobile apps) Free: 6 ; paid: unlimited (Premium includes skip back) Free: 6 Free: 6; paid: 6
Ban/Like tracks No Yes, also ban artist Yes Yes
Social Features Yes: follow other users, share on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr Yes: share station on Facebook and Twitter Yes: like and share tracks and stations on Facebook and Twitter Yes: like and share tracks and stations on Facebook and Twitter
Mobile Apps iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire iOS, Android
Lyrics No, but you can download a plug-in to get them Yes, complete for Plus and Premium No Yes, desktop only
Sound quality 160 - 320 Kbps (OGG) 128 Kbps not listed 192 Kbps
Off-line listening Premium Plus and Premium: Stations; Premium: albums and tracks No No
On-demand listening Yes Yes, Premium only No No

 

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A Few Corrections re: Songza

From Eric Davich on May 08, 2012 :: 9:42 am

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for including Songza in your post!

I wanted to clarify a few details.

In terms of playlist curation, Songza does NOT use algorithms.  All of our playlists are hand made by music experts (music journalists, musicians, producers, ethnomusicologists, composers etc.)

Our catalog includes artists you won’t find on some of the other services you mentioned including The Beatles, AC/DC, Adele, Coldplay etc.

Lastly, Songza is available on the web, iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire tablet platforms. There is no blackberry app at this time.

Thanks,
Eric Davich
Songza.com

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Thanks David. I've corrected.

From Suzanne Kantra on May 08, 2012 :: 10:11 am

Thanks David. I’ve corrected.

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A few corrections for Spotify

From SpotiDJ on May 08, 2012 :: 10:28 am

Library: 18+ million songs
Track skips: unlimited for every plan. Radio not available on the mobile apps.
Social Features: Share on Tumblr as well
Soundquality: 160 - 320 kbps (OGG)
Offline listening: Premium only

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Thanks! I've made the changes.

From Suzanne Kantra on May 08, 2012 :: 12:25 pm

Thanks! I’ve made the changes.

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other options

From Jim on May 08, 2012 :: 2:17 pm

I really like discovering new music on thesixtyone.com. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

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Music

From Mike on May 09, 2012 :: 10:02 pm

Do you have any comments about mp3 elevation?

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Music Streaming Services

From Andrew on May 16, 2012 :: 10:52 pm

I get Techlicious delivered to me via Email in Canada.  The four stations listed are not available to be subscribed to in Canada.  I did subscribe to Pandora when being a Snowbird in Florida for the winter.  But once returning to Canada I cannot subscribe/receive Pandora due to licensing restrictions.
So you may want to send out another email to the Techlicious Subscribers that these are not available in all countries.

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