With all the recent noise about piracy in the entertainment sphere, and with SOPA and PIPA looming to ruin ubiquitous YouTube plays of the latest Top 40 treasure, it’s high time one got better acquainted with their options for streaming music to their computers and mobile devices. Here is a list of our favorite streaming services, defined as a provider who, for a price or for free, provides access to a large library of legal, licensed music in the cloud.
Spotify is the current frontrunner of streaming services, with an intuitive iTunes-like UI (which also incorporates your iTunes library), and three tiers of offerings– free and ad-supported, $4.99 for Unlimited (commercial-free), and $9.99 for Premium (320Kbps steams, no commercials, and mobile access). It only recently immigrated from Europe to the US, but is already boasting over ten million registered users in the US, Facebook integration both in app and sharing with friends, and easy-to-use playlist functionality. The free version is unchecked for six months… but after that, you only get 10 hours of free tunes a month.
Features: Limited Free Ad-Supported Tier, 15 Million Songs available, Desktop App, Mobile App (Android, Blackberry and iOS, iPod), Supports Tethered Downloads, Social Integration, download or register here.
MOG, founded in June 2005 by David Hyman, former CEO of Gracenote, is Spotify’s US-born competitior, and although they were here first, you tend to see less of them in your Facebook timeline. MOG sports an attractive web-based UI doesn’t include Facebook friend’s playlists, but it does recommend subsequent tracks based on your initial selections (MOG Radio, similar to Pandora). MOG boasts quality (320kbps streams) as well as universal use– it works not only on the computer/mobile platforms, but also on your TV (via Roku/Google TV/Apple TV) and comes loaded in certain cars (like BMW). The pricing structure is the same, $4.99 for no commercials, $9.99 for Primo (mobile + unlimited tethered downloads). The free version (Freeplay) also has a limit, but that limit can be replenished by sharing with your friends.
Features: Limited Free Tier, 14 Million Songs available, Web-based App, Mobile App (Android and iOS), TV via set-top boxes, Facebook/Twitter Sharing, MOG Radio curation, Tethered Downloads, subscribe here.
Many forget Rhapsody, the original music streaming service in the US, which boasts a desktop app, mobile compatibility, and the same pricing structure as MOG and Spotify, but instead of a free component, it offers a 30-day trial, and a $14.99 tier which allows for up to three mobile devices to share one account. Not quite as sexy as its competitors.
Features: 30-Day Trial, 13 Million Songs available, Desktop and Web-based Apps, Mobile App (Android, Blackberry and iOS, DRM Enabled MP3 Players), Supports Tethered Downloads, 14-day trial starts here.
Rdio was created by Skype founders Niklas Zennströ&m and Janus Friis, and is a relative newcomer, differentiating itself with both streaming and a Pandora-like radio function, a free version with no ads, and a family package similar to Rhapsody’s ($17.99 a month for 2 users, $22.99 for three). Rdio has a web app, as well as desktop apps, mobile, TV, and great social functionality for following the playlists of friends, artists, and publications.
Features: Free Ad-Supported Tier, 12 Million Songs available, Desktop, Mobile App (Android, Blackberry and iOS), TV (Roku, Sonos), Supports Tethered Downloads, Facebook/Twitter Sharing, see the prices and plans in detail here.