Music  |  Lists

Assessing 10 Music-Streaming Services

August 1, 2011  |  11:00am

Over the years, countless mom-and-pop CD stops around the country have had to permanently take down their open signs.

Even as music aficionados still hold on tightly to vinyl and we continue to celebrate the joys of actual record stores, the transfer of digital music has undeniably taken center stage. Giving listeners the power to discover a nearly unlimited supply of music, several online streaming services have erupted from the shift in our music culture.

Most of these services are evolving to mesh with social media platforms so that we can not only stream music for free, but shape and refine one another’s tastes through playlists and scrobbles. Below is a list of the sonic streaming providers who have mastered this concept.

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10. Slacker
Offering a model similar to the radio genome project Pandora, Slacker provides a clear sound quality and a premium service worthy of subscribers.

Year Founded: 2007
Number of Users: Listeners: 25 million to 30 million, Subscribers: 350,000 to 400,000
What Makes It Unique: Stream entire albums on demand. Professional DJs run the radio stations.
Who It’s For: Users looking to have developed radio stations and superior sound quality. Also, Slacker is one of the few services with an app for nearly every platform, including an iPad app, whereas Spotify lacks iPad and Blackberry apps.

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9. Jango
A great platform for independent artists. While Jango doesn’t offer an upgraded version via subscription, there are no annoying “skip” breaks.

Year Founded: 2007
Number of Users: Claims 6 million monthly
What Makes It Unique: No skips
Who It’s For: Good for independent artist promotion

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8. Maestro
The site layout isn’t perfect, but the Atlanta-based Maestro allows users to store all their music online in a cloud that is accessible to anyone from anywhere using only a web browser.

Year Founded:2007
Number of Users: Unreleased
What Makes It Unique: Music stored in a cloud. Includes a lyrics library.
Who It’s For: People on the go who like a personalized music experience.

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7. Rdio
The free trial period is short-lived, but there are no ads here. Rdio uses an online radio format that offers phone friendly apps while meshing social networking and decent sound quality. There’s an iPad app waiting for approval from Apple.

Year Founded: 2010
Number of Users: Unreleased
What Makes It Unique: Great social aspect, you can follow other users like Twitter
Who It’s For: People who are looking for a large music catalog that want to be able to sync their music with their streaming site.

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6. Grooveshark
Hailed for its extensive library, Grooveshark has a quirky layout and while other radio formats don’t let you go back and replay a track, these guys give you free range of the sonic sea.

Year Founded: 2006
Number of Users: 35 million
What Makes It Unique: Content comes from independent users
Who It’s For: Unsigned artists looking to have their music heard

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5. Pandora
Constantly evolving and updating its format, after over a decade, Pandora has proved it has staying power as one of the radio streaming giants online.

Year Founded: 2000
Number of Users: 100 million
What Makes It Unique: Easy navigation, quick music-genome quality.
Who It’s For: Anyone that just wants to quickly put a station on that consistently represents their taste.

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4. Last.fm
Last.fm made the “scrobble” popular. It not only gives users a music profile we can share with others but also gives us insight into the way our music taste has evolved over time.

Year Founded: 2002
Number of Users: 40 million
What Makes It Unique: Check music scrobbles over long periods of time
Who It’s For: People who like to catalog their music

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3. MOG
Billboard named MOG’s music streaming app the best of 2010. Initially a music blog, Mog merges journalism and streaming. Mog will soon launch Mog fusion, an on-demand subscription service for your car.

Year Founded: 2005
Number of Users: Undisclosed.
What Makes It Unique: Users can access over 11 million songs from various locations—online, mobile devices and streaming entertainment devices.
Who It’s For: People looking for new high-quality music. MOG offers personalized recommendations via Facebook integration.

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2. Turntable
Think you have superior taste in music? Now there’s a streaming service that gives you the power to play DJ to a cyber-room full of people who get to critique your selection. Check out the Paste turntable room here.

Year Founded: 2011
Number of Users: 380,000 in the first month
What Makes It Unique: Everything from the quirky avatars to the live chat box.
Who It’s For: Music enthusiasts or anyone who likes to actively participate in sharing and refining their taste and that of others.

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1. Spotify
It probably comes as no surprise that Spotify takes the cake for innovation in online music streaming. The only thing it’s missing is a music genome quality. With a music catalog unmatched by its competitors, Spotify merges the best of social networking with Facebook, the scrobbling feature of Last.fm, iTunes-style storage and a centralized music feed that imitates Twitter.

Year Founded: 2006
Number of Users: 10 million as of July 20, 1 million paying
What Makes It Unique: Great desktop player. Access to an incomparable music catalog.
Who It’s For: iTunes users who want to access any song on demand

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