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The best web sites for streaming music

Although the CD is rapidly going the way of the vinyl LP – i.e. into extinction – there has never been a better time to listen to music. High-fidelity sound systems are everywhere and mobile devices like iPods and smartphones mean we have access to that music whenever and wherever we want.

But there’s another way to listen to music, which doesn’t involve buying or downloading individual songs or albums. We can stream it directly over the Internet.

Although they have had a rough time of it financially over the last few years, streaming music sites are making a comeback. Pandora, which was rumored to be closing down on more than one occasion, has received millions in additional funding and is on the brink of going public. Other sites have recently started up, experimenting with various revenue streams in the quest to develop a sustainable business model.

What they all offer is a huge library of music that you can listen to on-demand via your web browser or smartphone. It’s a great way to hear your favorite tracks, as well as discover new songs and artists. Many of the sites will recommend tracks based on the songs you have previously chosen, and others will offer additional services, such as personalized playlists, video streaming, and social networking tools.

Here are some of our favorites:


One of the first and still one of the best. Just name a song or an artist and Pandora uses advanced analytics to create a “radio station” of similar music that sounds like it was designed just for you. They recently added a feature which also allows you to create stations by genre, adding more variety to your mixes.

Pandora is free but a $36 annual subscription will eliminate the annoying ads and provide higher quality audio. There is also a free mobile app for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.


Again, Rhapsody is one of the originals. It boasts a catalog of over 10 million songs, all of which are accessible for only $9.99 a month. As long as you are a member, you can also download as many songs as you want to your smartphone or iPod touch.

You can search music by artist, song title or genre; set up playlists; or listen to one of Rhapsody’s 150+ radio stations. Sign-up includes a 14-day free trial period, and membership can be cancelled at any time.


A relative newcomer to the scene, Rdio combines the usual music streaming options with a heavy dose of social networking. You can search your Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail contacts to share music with friends and follow their selections, or Rdio will recommend people for you to follow so you “know what’s cool first.”

Rdio offers a free 7-day trial period (no credit card required), after which it’s $9.99 per month for unlimited access. You can also access Rdio on demand from your iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry.


If you want real radio stations instead of constructing your own, then SHOUTcast is the place for you. They will connect you to over 47,000 free Internet radio stations from around the world. Everything from Techno to Rockabilly to Hindi radio, SHOUTcast has it all.

Fancy yourself as a DJ? SHOUTcast will help you there too, providing downloadable broadcasting tools so you can become one of their featured stations.

Other recommended music streaming web sites include MOG, Live 365 and last.fm.

Do you have a favorite music streaming web site? Share it with The Online Mom!

Comment by Michael, posted 9/5/2011, 7:02 AM:

thanks, I can recommend two new sites: http://www.playofday.com http://www.jampri.com. Both work with Facebook.
Comment by Healthy Family Ideas, posted 4/18/2011, 11:37 AM:

Grooveshark is an awesome service that offers both a paid and free version. The paid version gets rid of sidebar ads, gives you a desktop app and allows for the use on your mobile device. Without Grooveshark I think that my gym workouts would be a lot harder to get through.
Comment by Mark, posted 4/18/2011, 11:20 AM:

I'm a huge fan of Pandora... Thanks for the info.
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