Teens Stop Downloading, Start Streaming Music

By Sarah Klein

It used to be a rite of passage for teens to illegally download music. The forums for doing so were everywhere, whether it was Napster in the old days, Limewire, Kazaa, or simply sharing a friend’s CD or iTunes collection. But new research, as reported in the British newspaper The Guardian, has found that illegal music sharing is on the decline, and teens are now increasingly streaming music online instead.

The survey, conducted by music research companies Music Ally and The Leading Question, polled 1,000 14 to 18 year olds. Only 26 percent admitted to illegally sharing music files, down from 42 percent in December 2007. Instead, 65 percent of respondents said they stream music online at least once a month. As many as 31 percent stream music on a daily basis, much more than the general music-loving public (18%).

The good news? Most music streaming services are perfectly legal, using licensed radio stations and other content to provide a customized listening experience. Even better news? Streaming music is generally free – at least for basic access. And since many of the services now offer mobile capabilities, music lovers can even stream on the go.

How can you jump on board this teen tech trend? Check out some of these sites and start streaming!

  • Pandora – Thanks to music matching technology developed under the Music Genome Project, this former Online Mom Web Site of the Week aims to play only music you will love. Create “stations” by naming tracks or artists, and the site will explore these guidelines to find additional songs that will perfectly match your musical tastes!
  • Slacker – Slacker features a wide range of pre-programmed stations and playlists compiled by professional DJs.  
  • Last.fm – With all the streaming capabilities of its competitors, this site also functions as a social network, allowing users to connect through groups and forums. The site can also recommend videos and concerts based on your music preferences.
  • Spotify – This UK site, mentioned in The Guardian article, is still in beta testing but is already growing in popularity, despite the fact that you currently need an invitation to sign up. With an iTunes-like interface, searching and selecting songs, as well as creating playlists and sharing them with other users, is a piece of cake!
  • YouTube – The video sharing giant may not seem like it belongs on this list, but with a new feature allowing users to queue a list of videos, the site has also become a popular venue for streaming music.

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