The world of free online music has changed quite a bit from the early days of bulletin boards and Napster. Now, there are so many unique and useful free music services and web sites streaming music that it can spin your head. Most of them are legal or at least not illegal at this point.
I did my best to sort through the tidal wave of music services to provide a unique blend of the best free music services.
- Pandora – My personal favorite. You create a station by requesting a particular artist and Pandora attempts to play music on that ‘station’ that is similar using a huge database of properties. You can thumbs up and thumbs down songs to tailor the station to play exactly the type of music you want. The one drawback is that to keep it legal you can’t rewind or replay a song; you have to wait until the station plays it again. Pandora has now put a 40 hour a month limitation on free listening. Slacker Radio is a site that is almost identical to Pandora in how it works, although the song selection and recommendations are little different. I have been listening to Slacker more of late as it gives me a different selections of songs for the same genre. It is a nice alternative to Pandora.
- Grooveshark – Peer to peer music service. Grooveshark connects you with music hosted by other people who have already purchased the rights to the music. Just search for the song you want and hit play. It is really as easy and perfect as it sounds. This is my go to site when want to listen to a specific song. You don’t even need an account to play songs.
- Blip.fm – This one has been referred to as the ‘Twitter for Music’. You create an account and become a social DJ. You search for the song you want and you can play it and/or Blip it. Blip it means adding a short twitter like message and recommending it to your ‘listeners’. Others can subscribe to your ‘feed’ and play the songs that you recommend. Check out Trent Reznor’s Blip page for a good example.
- Sky.fm – Free streaming radio stations. They have a large range of music categories and huge collection of electronic dance stations. Sky.fm was my reintroduction to free online music, but I have since moved on to Pandora.
- MySpace Music – Search and play site similar to Grooveshark, and they do also have videos available to watch. They have a larger selection of music too.
- TheSixtyOne – Unique Digg like service that allows the user to vote up the best music. After a quick listen I realized that most of the music on this site is non mainstream and unique. Great for someone who wants to find great music that is off the beaten path.
- Last.fm – Offers a service that is similar to Pandora, Grooveshark, and Blip all in one place. The only problem for me is that I never really got the site interface. I am happy with the offerings at other sites so I never really got into Last.fm.
- Jamendo – Free listening and downloads. Jamendo allows budding new artists to share their music with new listeners. I figured I better throw in a service that lets you download free music to round off the list. Most of the sites that offer ‘free’ downloads get closed down pretty quickly. Bearshare is still ‘legal’, but that requires you to download software to get access to the music so it doesn’t quite fit on the list.
Hope you enjoy trying out some of these great services. My favorites are Pandora and Grooveshark.
Feel free to share any other sites or experiences that you think are worthy of a mention in the comments section.