Streaming Music

So what is all this fuss about streaming music services?  There are several services that can stream music to your Mac, iPhone or iPad for free!  You can listen to them all day and enjoy the services’ huge music libraries as well as tell the service what you would like to listen to.

Of course, nothing is really free and the free version of the services described below are funded by short ads that play occasionally.  Of course, you can pay money to have an ad-free experience.

Here are the three major players and what to expect from them:

  1. Pandora - probably the original of the services, Pandora has pre-programmed stations to enjpy.  It also allows you to create personal “stations” by defining a song, an artist or a genre.  Pandora then finds music & artists similar to what you created the station with.  You can have up to 100 personal stations to enjoy.  You can get Pandora on the web or get an app for your iPhone or iPad for free.  Pandora just changed their paid subscriptions to monthly only - $5/month.
  2. iTunes Radio - This is the new kid on the block and is a service from Apple.  It is built into your iTunes on your computer and into ever iPhone or iPad (in the Music app).  It works just like Pandora, only you can tune each of your stations to play more Hits (popular artists) or Discovery (lesser known artists mixed in).  iTunes Radio is free with ads or $25/year subscription to iTunes Match gets you an ad-free experience.
  3. Spotify - This is actually my favorite.  It works similar to Pandora and iTunes Radio, but adds special features, including:
    1. Listening to just one artist at a time or just one album from one artist at a time.
    2. Downloading music to your device for “offline” listening if you anticipate not having Internet access when you want to enjoy Spotify.

Spotify has a lot of other features as well.  They have free apps for Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads.  It’s paid service to get rid of ads is a bit more expensive than the other two, but has more features - $10/month for all your devices combined.

I have recently re-discovered Spotify and I really enjoy its extra features, especially when I feel like just listening to just one artist.