Although record stores are now hard to find, new music can be discovered on the Internet. Thanks to a wide range of choices, from free services to products with low monthly fees, streaming music online can be an enjoyable experience.
According to a study by Edison Research (2013), Pandora is the leader of streaming services with 31 percent using the service, followed by iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio, and Spotify. The study also found that 83 percent of smartphone users listen to Internet radio on their phones. Streaming music has become the most convenient way to curate your own music playlists.
With its growing popularity (over 200 million users), Pandora is the music streaming choice for many. Although Pandora offers an ad-free premium version for $5 per month, many users opt for the free service. As far as sound quality goes, there is a slight difference. According to a Forbes article (2013), Pandora’s free service streams at a lower rate than the competition (about 64 kilobytes per second). Consequently, Pandora's premium speed of 192kbps is lower than Spotify’s 320kbps; the higher the speed, the better the audio. If sound quality is of premium importance to you, Pandora might not be right for you.
Launched in 2013, iTunes Radio allows anyone with an iTunes account to stream music from the site. Playlists are created when you choose an artist or group (called the seed) to listen to. Once chosen, you receive music selections, which include the “seed artist” and similar artists or genres. If you’re already an iTunes user, iTunes Radio could be a good choice for you. The ad-free alternative is $25 per year.
Spotify has 10 million subscribers (and rising), fueled partially by Windows phones users who have free access to the Spotify app. Also, unlike most music streaming services that compile similar artists into a playlist, Spotify allows you to play a single artist on shuffle. Premium services cost $10 per month, but you can start with a free 30-day trial.
This free streaming service is essentially a free-for-all. You can stream music and enjoy listening for hours without a single ad interruption. However, unlike most premium streaming services, you won’t be able to play songs on demand -- like a traditional radio station, just sit back and wait for what comes next. You can also explore local radio stations, or almost any station across the country. Currently, iHeartRadio does not offer any premium services.
- Edison Research Study: The New Mainstream: New Research into Audio Streaming
- Time: 13 Streaming Music Services Compared by Price, Quality, Catalog Size and More
- Forbes: Quest For The Perfect Playlist: iTunes Radio, Pandora and Spotify
- iTunes Radio
- iHeart Radio
- Billboard: Pandora Surpasses 200 Million Registered Users
- Photo Credit Leah-Anne Thompson/iStock/Getty Images
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