I’ll admit it. I listen to music most often in iTunes or on my iPhone. I just have a basic approach that works for me – buy and rip music, organize in iTunes, sync with my phone, listen on the go. That approach, though, is “old school” these days.
Last.fm, Pandora and Spotify are three of the big alternatives (and there are others) to carrying around your purchased music on your own storage. All have tens of millions of users, and they are growing.
Last.fm may be the oldest of the three. Users access Last.fm as an online radio service or through portable music devices and smartphones. Over time, the service develops a profile of musical preferences and tastes and can suggest new songs and new artists. Last.fm is a free service in most areas, but there are pay versions with additional features.
Pandora plays songs similar to song suggestions that you, the user, enter. As music plays, you provide positive or negative feedback for songs played and that is taken into account for future selections. Pandora has a free subscription (ad supported) and a for-fee subscription with no ads. It can be accessed through some stand-alone Internet radio devices and Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Users can purchase the music they hear through online retailers.
Spotify is the newest of the streaming services to become available in the US via desktop clients, web and via iOS and Android devices. It has generated a great deal of excitement. Like the others, Spotify has a free subscription (ad supported) and a for-fee subscription with no ads and with access to higher bitrate music. Users can search music, browse and create playlists. Spotify offers on demand, offline access, cloud storage and allows users to share content on Facebook, Twitter and more.
Pandora had an IPO back in June to much fanfare but the stock has slipped some since. More recently, Pandora announced that it is rolling out new social features, hoping to compete with the challenge of Spotify. Expect all of these services to leverage existing social networks and new ones to allow you to share your selections and playlists with friends and discover new music based on what they are listening to. While not a new idea (Apple tried this with Ping and failed), it may be an idea whose time has come.
How do you listen to music? Does a streaming service appeal to you? Leave a comment and let us know.
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