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Top Online Music Sites That Offer Streaming

Listen to music from the cloud on your computer, home stereo, or smartphone

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Streaming music sites offer a huge library of music that you can listen to on-demand via your web browser or portable device. It's a great way to discover new music (sometimes at zero cost) without having to download anything. Simply type in the name of your favorite artist or song to start streaming music. Most services also have a built-in music discovery engine that recommends similar artists that 'fit' the type of music you are listening to.

As well as basic audio streaming, services can also offer additional music options. Examples include: creating custom playlists; music video streaming; sharing your discoveries via social networking; making your own radio stations, and more.

1. Spotify

Spotify
Image © Spotify Ltd.

Spotify is one of the top online services for streaming music. What makes this service unique is that you can use its Offline Mode to listen to thousands of music tracks without having to be connected to the Web. As well as subscription plans, this service also offers you the chance to try before you buy with its Spotify Free account. With facilities to stream music to mobile devices and home stereo systems, is this the ultimate digital music service?

2. Rdio

Rdio Logo
Image © Rdio, Inc.
Rdio is a multi-faceted streaming music service that boasts millions of songs on-demand and the option of a free basic account. It supports the streaming of songs not just to your computer, but other devices such as home entertainment systems (Roku, Sonos, etc.), and several smartphone platforms. Using its desktop app for Mac and PC, you can also use it as an alternative to Apple's iTunes Match service for syncing your own music library to the cloud without having to upload.

Rdio is also a socially rich music service that sports it own network (as well as Facebook and Twitter integration) where users can share, follow, and even work on playlists together.

3. Slacker Radio

Slacker.com Landing Page

Slacker Radio is a stellar online music service that you can use to listen to hundreds of compiled radio stations. This service provides an interactive experience that also allows you to quickly build up custom-made stations of your own too. Although this service is subscription driven, Slacker offers a free account in order for you to try out their service at no cost. This freebie, called Slacker Basic Radio, is surprisingly feature-rich and even includes mobile music support which is often a paid-for option. There's a good range of mobile apps on offer to hook up your portable device, and you can also share your music discoveries on popular social networking platforms like: Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

If mobile music is your thing, there's also an offline mode that enables you to listen to your favorite stations, songs, and albums without the need to be connected to the Internet.

4. Beats Music

Beats Music Logo
Image © Beats Music, LLC.

Beats Music is a full-fledged subscription streaming music service that compares favorably with other top cloud music services such as Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, etc. Beats Music has excellent mobile support and also has good music discovery options. Rather than relying solely on algorithms to suggest new music, Beats Music also extensively uses expert-curated playlists to service up suggestions

5. Pandora Radio

New Pandora Radio
Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you're looking for a simple music discovery website that streams music, then Pandora is a good choice. Unlike Last.fm and imeem, Pandora is an intelligent Internet radio service that plays music based on your feedback. Once you have entered an artist's name or a song title, Pandora automatically suggests similar tracks which you can agree with, or reject; Pandora will remember your answers and fine-tune its subsequent recommendations. You can also buy albums and individual tracks from digital music services such as Amazon MP3, and the iTunes Store via links that are displayed on-screen.

6. Last.fm

Last.fm Logo
Image © Last.fm Ltd

Last.fm is one of the top sites to visit for streaming music. It has a whole host of features which include music and video streaming, custom playlist creation, uploading your photos, social networking, etc. You can also connect with people who have similar tastes. An interesting feature of Last.fm is 'scrobbling' which allows you (via a small widget download) to automatically add tracks to your Last.fm playlist while listening to music on your computer or portable device.

7. Yahoo Music

Even though Yahoo has closed its Music Unlimited service and migrated its customers to Rhapsody, Yahoo Music is still a great music resource. It may not be the most popular site for music, but it provides an impressive amount of music-related content.

The service streams music videos rather than audio with the option of creating your own music video playlists. The site also has a good search facility for finding your favorites and there's extensive information on artists including current music news.

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