Do you want to listen to music through your Internet devices but aren’t sure how to find the music you want? Hopefully this basic guide will help you! Pandora, Spotify, and iHeart are considered to be the “Big Three” of online music service — and for good reason! In this blog post, we’ll highlight those three and give you other options for streaming music online. While this by no means covers all the ways you can enjoy music online, it should give you a good start!
Pandora — A very popular app that lets you create your own stations, based on songs or artists that you like, and then it plays a variety of music based on your station choice. You can give each song a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to help Pandora learn your tastes and tailor your station(s) to your likes. You can create as many stations as you like and listen to them from your phone, tablet, laptop, or any other device that supports Pandora. Pandora offers a free version (with ads every few songs) and a paid version that is ad-free. You will need to create an account in order to save your stations and preferences. To create an account, you will need an email address or a Facebook login. (www.pandora.com or search app store for “pandora”)
Spotify — Another very popular app that lets you create playlists of your favorite songs to play on any of your Internet-connected devices. Where Pandora surprises you with song selections based on your initial choice, Spotify only plays the songs you select. You can create as many playlists as you like. Like Pandora, there is a free version that has ads every few songs or a paid version that is free and lets you download your music to play offline (without using data if playing from a phone). Like Pandora, you will need to create an account in order to save your playlists and preferences. To create an account, you will need an email address or a Facebook login. (www.spotify.com or search your app store for “spotify”)
iHeart — iHeart is an app that blends the ability to create your own stations with the ability to listen to real radio stations that stream their broadcast online. iHeart has a vast network of stations it is partnered with so you have a lot of choices. (www.iheartradio.com or search your app store for “iheart”)
Thousands of stations allow you to listen live online. One way to start is to search the call letters or frequency number and city to find the website of a station you like. Then look on their website for anything that says “Listen Live” or “Listen Online” and click that link. Sometimes you will be asked to download an app or program that the radio stations uses for their broadcast or they may redirect you to a website that handles the live feed for them. This is safe and fine to do and only takes a few minutes. Listening to radio stations is free, you just have to put in a little more effort to find the station(s) you want to listen to.
Stations like NPR, CNBC, ESPN, CBS Sports and other national stations will likely have their own apps you can download for easy listening.
TuneIn — TuneIn is an app that helps you find streaming radio stations. With more than 100,000 stations in its database, you can filter by the kind of content you want. Listen for free or upgrade to the Premium version to remove ads and gain access to audio books. (www.tunein.com)
YouTube — Another choice for listening to music online is YouTube. YouTube is traditionally a video website but many of the videos in its vast library are music videos and music playlists. You can search by song, artist, album, or keyword to find dozens of options to play. Do you want to play a single song? You can probably find it on YouTube. Do you want to play multiple songs from an artist? Search the artist and you’ll probably find dozens of their songs. With “auto-play” selected, you can listen to one song after another. You can even find footage of entire concerts to listen to (or watch) to get the “live” experience! YouTube is free but it will insert ads every couple songs and every 10 or so minutes of a longer video (like a concert) but the payoff is that you have access to a wide variety of songs, playlists, and concert videos that other apps don’t typically offer. (www.youtube.com)
ReverbNation — If you like non-commercial artists and finding that next big band, check out ReverbNation. It’s a website showcasing relatively unknown talents in the pop, hip-hop, and alternative genres where bands like Imagine Dragons and Alabama Shakes got their start. And if you’re a musician, ReverbNation could be a great place to get noticed! ReverbNation is free for listeners and musicians have both free and paid options to share their work. (www.reverbnation.com)
SoundCloud — SoundCloud is a service similar to ReverbNation in that you’ll find a lot of undiscovered artists trying to gain a following. You can listen for free, with unlimited skips, although like many others there are ads. SoundCloud is also a good resource for musicians trying to get their music in the hands of listeners. (www.soundcloud.com)
There are many others including Amazon Music, iTunes (from Apple), Microsoft Music, and Rhapsody for you to explore, especially if you have an existing subscription or device which might make access to the music easier or cheaper.
Playing Your Music
Just about any Internet-connected device can play music from your smartphone to your laptop. One neat way to listen to music is through a home speaker appliance like a Google Home or Amazon Echo device. Being voice controlled, you can just tell it what you want to hear and it will find and play it. If you want to use services that require an account (like Pandora), you will still need to have an account created but then you can tell your speaker to “Play Garth Brooks on Pandora” or “Play 70’s Music on Pandora” even if you don’t have the stations created already.
Otherwise, your phone or tablet is a great way to play music while you’re working on something. Just download the app for the music you want, create an account and sign in, and then setup your stations or playlists. Then just open the app, choose the station or playlist you feel like listening too and enjoy! With bluetooth headphones or speaker, you can keep the music to yourself or play it louder to fill the room better.