Streaming music services offer a lot to music lovers these days, including free or cheap access to new music, storage for existing collections, and the ability to discover new artists and recordings.
It is this functionality that has helped streaming take off; since the demise of the local record shop and tape-trading with friends, it has become a lot harder to keep discovering new music the way we used to. Here are the current top 3 streaming services to check out; Spotify, Grooveshark and Pandora.
#1 – Spotify
Spotify has been gaining ground steadily since its launch back in 2007. Following a radio style concept and licensing system for the music it streams, Spotify has managed to build a very respectable catalogue and monetize itself without compromising the service’s popularity.
Recently launched in the USA, Spotify appears to be going global and might also get its hands on some of the more unusual and specialist music that would persuade me to get an account. The payment system is innovative and scalable; Spotify can be used free with advertising, paid with advertising, or paid with no advertising and higher sound quality. Give it a go!
#2 – Grooveshark
Ok, you might not have heard of Grooveshark, as it moves quietly just beneath the surface. Until recently Grooveshark was a small fish in a big pond, but thanks to its voracious appetite for user MP3’s and killer business instincts this frankly brilliant concept is floating steadily to the top of the food chain.
Grooveshark is completely free unless you want it on your mobile; an excellent decision ensuring that plenty of people have created free accounts and uploaded music collections to the servers. The creators are obviously banking on the fact that plenty of people will want to purchase the mobile app for their phone and access their music on the go – a shrewd move worthy of a top predator?
Grooveshark’s new take on the good old ‘upload and share’ ethos of the original Napster file-sharing program is working out well, encouraging folks with less mainstream tastes to feed the shark. You can find almost anything in there already, just like inside the average Great White.
#3 – Pandora
As lovely as Spotify and Grooveshark are, I actually wanted to put Pandora at the top of my list – but had to resist given how much more popular the other two are. Pandora is probably the geek’s choice, and deserves special attention for both the incredible sound quality of its premium service and the cool story behind the site.
Pandora is powered by the music Genome project, an ambitious attempt to analyze and map the wave-forms of all recorded music. Pandora uses these indexed images of audio files to understand what makes a piece of music unique, and how it’s musical DNA relates to others. It is one of the cleverest things in the world in my book; Pandora bases it’s recommendations on what the music you like actually is, rather than what slot in the record shop someone put it in. Combined with user data from your friends, the program does a fantastic job of introducing music you would never have come across without it.
As the USA is the only country in the world to have a properly comprehensive music streaming license in place, Pandora recently had to close its international service and is only open to users in the USA. What’s more they have neither the will nor the money to start fighting horrific legal battles, so it may stay this way for a while.
Of course, I’m sure plenty of internet geeks know a few ways round the location situation – but I’m not saying a word!