The way we swallow up music has shifted hugely in recent years. The digital age has forced the music industry to alter its practices and move swiftly to accommodate the ever-changing ways in which the music-loving public consume the work of their favourite artists. One of the latest trends is internet radio, or the streaming of music via the web. Here are five sites that do exactly that, and which will keep even those with the more obscure tastes happy. Some have been around a while, some less so, but all of them will give you the musical fix you require.
Last.FM describes itself as a music recommendation service. Working as a personalised radio station you can pick artists you like and listen to them. As you do this Last.FM ‘scrobbles’; this means it tracks what you and everyone else on the site listens to and then makes recommendations based on that. Pretty nifty. There’s also a community element built in for the social types, as well as the function to link your account to your other social networks, thereby broadcasting to all your pals that you’ve been listening to the Flashdance soundtrack, again.
Spotify’s tagline is ‘All the music, all the time’ and this isn’t far wrong. There are about 15 million tracks available for the stream happy music fan. This is obviously all great, but if you’re using it for free there are limitations and audio ads that burst forth between tracks, savagely tempering any musical nirvana your might be experiencing. It isn’t expensive to upgrade, but it isn’t free either. Aside from all this though you can find pretty much whatever you’re looking for, and it all sounds great. A must for the music lover.
GrooveShark is reported to be the largest international community of music lovers online. It is one of the more unique music sites out there as it is built on part streaming service and part peer-to-peer network. The advantage is that it lets users upload tracks and stream them to others. A great feature for anyone trying to get their own music heard. Incorporated into the site are the social elements you’d expect, and they’re done extremely well. And another advantage is its selection of apps (not just for the iPhone) for getting your music while on the move.
Jango is predominantly about simplicity, ‘making online music easy, fun and social.’ The site has cracking sound quality, something that should never be underestimated in the world of online music streaming. Once signed up you can listen to your own user-created stations and skip until your heart is content, something that isn’t always allowed by other services. It’s straightforward to take part in the social elements, which makes it a good choice for anyone wanting to find those with similar tastes with the goal of expanding their own listening horizons.
Hype Machine is a little different from other music sites. Rather than having a library of tracks, it aggregates tracks posted by blogs across the net. This means a stream of music defined by bloggers. Once signed up you can add the names of artists as keywords and choose blogs you particularly like to create a stream of tracks pulled from the blogosphere specifically for you. It also creates charts around what is ‘trending’ and each year publishes top 50s of artists and albums as featured on their site, which is a surprisingly accurate way to stay ahead of the cool curve.
If you’re a music lover, regardless of genre, the above sites are sure to have you dancing in the proverbial and virtual aisles.
David James researches and writes about entertainment and tech topics for the quirky Christmas gifts retailer Find Me A Gift.