Listening to music via a streaming service is a great way to access millions of songs on-demand. After all, it gives you the flexibility to listen on the move and on multiple computers and mobile devices. However, the big downside to enjoying music in this way is that you usually need to be connected to some sort of network for your music to be streamed -- the Internet or a 3G network for example. If you suddenly lose your connection, or are somewhere that hasn't got a signal, then your smartphone, Internet tablet, or other portable won't be much good as an MP3 player unless you have music already on it.
To solve this issue, there are now a growing number of streaming music services that offer an option called offline mode, or a similar worded term. This feature works by allowing your computer or mobile device to cache the music you have streamed. The next time you want to play the same songs, you won't need to have an Internet or 3G network connection because the music files will have already been stored on your hard disk or flash memory, allowing you to play offline anytime. If you have got a limit on the maximum amount of data you can use with your particular broadband subscription, then this caching technique can also come in handy. You can use this mode to make sure you don't exceed your monthly data allowance by streaming too much.
If you like the flexibility of streaming music, but find the constraints of having to be connected to the Internet all the time frustrating, then choosing a service that offers an offline mode is a very handy feature to have.
The streaming music services in the list below (in no particular order) have been chosen for their offline mode support while giving a good digital music service.
Slacker Radio is an excellent streaming music service that provides a multitude of Internet radio stations to tune into -- you can also create your own personalized compilations too if preferred. To be able to listen offline, you'll need to subscribe to either Slacker Radio Plus or Slacker Premium Radio. Thankfully, the company also has good support for several mobile platforms in order for you to be able to listen to music on the move -- for example: smartphones and Internet tablets that run on different operating systems. Examples of the mobile apps currently available for Slacker Radio include: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, webOS, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, and a few more.
A facility called Mobile Station Caching, which is available for both of the above mentioned subscription tiers, enables you to store the contents of particular stations on your mobile device without having to be connected to a network. If you want more flexibility than this, then you will need to subscribe to Slacker Premium Radio which facilitates the caching of individual songs and playlists rather than just the contents of stations.
For more information, read our full review of Slacker Radio.
MOG is a stellar online service that delivers music in high quality -- typically at 320 kbps. Even though it hasn't got as many mobile apps on offer as Slacker Radio for streaming music, the support for portable devices is still very respectable which currently includes: iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android based portables and tablets.
If you want to use MOG's offline mode, then you need to subscribe to their Primo level. You can then download an unlimited supply of music to your mobile device, keep your playlists in sync, and playback music when offline.
Read more on this service by consulting our full MOG review.
Spotify is regarded as one of the best streaming music services on the Internet. As well as streaming to your computer or mobile device, this service supports other possibilities to enjoy music like streaming to home stereo systems like Sonos and Squeezebox. Along with Spotify's wealth of service features and large music library, it also sports an offline mode. In order to use this feature, you'll need to subscribe to Spotify Premium. This gives you music caching on your desktop or mobile device so you can listen to tracks without having to be connected to the Internet.
Check out our the Spotify Full Review for more information.
4. Google Play
The music section of Google Play's collection of media services (formally known as Google Music) has the facility for offline mode. It can be used to sync music that is already in your Google music locker (to your iPhone for example) so that you don't have to be connected to this service all the time in order to stream your library. With the capacity for up to 20, 000 files to be stored in Google's cloud, and an offline mode, it's a service to keep in mind when looking for online and offline listening combo.
Deezer may be relatively new on the block compared to the more established services, but it has an impressive streaming music service that also offers offline listening. To take advantage of this facility, you will need to be a subscriber to their Deezer Premium Plus (+) service. As well as being able to download as much music as you want to your mobile device for offline listening, you can also do the same thing for your desktop computer too.