It’s funny how, contrary to the belief that radio would die off and be forgotten, be it because of television, the invention of the audio cassette, the CD, or even the mp3 + smartphone combo, this form of media has yet to disappear. Sure, it had to undergo some transformations in order to stay relevant, and its audience is far from what it once was (in terms of percentage of the media-consuming population), but radio is still going strong in our day and age – there’s just something special about hearing a favorite song come up on a playlist that you did not choose, plus – the media is a perfect way to find new favorite artists.
iTunes was surely one service to spearhead the plan for the music business’ survival and thriving in the 21st century, while
‘s Play Music definitely embodies what a modern music library should be – a fully legit, affordable way for listeners to consume unlimited amounts of music and discover new favorite artists in the oversaturated market.
Of course, iTunes Radio and Play Music are not the end-all be-all of online streaming services and apps, so let’s take a look at some of the best alternatives out there. These are actually huge in terms of popularity, and you’ve probably heard of at least a couple on our list, but see what you think of the rest.
Five of the best music streaming apps
Five of the best music streaming apps
Spotify is quite possibly the most famous music streaming services currently, with 45 million subscribed users, 15 million of which are paying for the premium tier. The app allows freemium users to pick an artist and album they wish to listen to, but zeroing in on specific songs is reserved for paying customers. Free users can also launch a radio based on a single artist choice, which will shuffle pieces from similar musicians, and will allow listeners to only skip 5 songs for a period of time, forcing them to listen through songs that they may not like. While the freemium model is ad-supported, $9.99 per month will free a user of the commercials and give them access to premium features, which include highest audio quality of the stream, the ability to download songs for offline listening, unlimited skips in the radio, and more.
Aupeo! is a “personal radio” type of service – while it does not allow users to play specific songs on-demand, it will allow you to pick a favorite artist and will attempt to play similar ones afterwards. Every time the user skips or favorites a song, Aupeo! remembers the choice, and works towards fine-tuning its understanding of the listener’s “audio DNA”. The app also offers a wide variety of pre-set stations, divided either by genre or by mood, and is a great choice for those who wish to just “set it and forget it”, trusting that the service will surprise them with an interesting piece every once in a while. The free version is ad-supported, both with banners and audio between songs, while $4.95 per month grants the user an uninterrupted experience. Unfortunately, both the free and premium versions are limited to 6 song skips per hour / 50 per day.
Deezer is a direct Spotify alternative, with just a couple of minor twists here and there. When launching it for the first time, the user is asked to pick their favorite genre(s), after which they are asked to like / dislike a series of artists, presented as cards on the phone’s display, much like Tinder. The process is endless, so as soon as the new subscriber feels like they’ve swiped quite enough, they can proceed to the app, where their “Flow” will be ready – it’s a one-push personalized playlist, which is ever-evolving, and bases itself off of the user’s preferences in music. Additionally, the service’s home page is called “Hear This” and constantly presents the subscriber with singles / albums / user-generated playlists, which it believes to be a good pick. Deezer also supports Chromecast, in contrast to Spotify, which chooses to stay away from Google’s streamer. The Premium+ subscription costs $9.99 / month and offers the best quality of streaming, the ability to download songs for offline listening, and no ads, of course.
4. Jango Radio
Jango Radio goes the “personalized radio” route, but adds a social twist. Users start their playlists with a single favorite artist and, with time, as they skip through or favorite songs, the service will get a taste for their musical preferences. At this point, it will also suggest playlists of other subscribers, who have similar tastes in music, and allow sharing / following among users. Jango also gives indie artists a chance to be heard, as it boldly mixes their pieces with the more popular hits. The service profits from ads and song sales, and does not offer any type of premium membership at the moment.
5. Pandora Radio
Pandora is one of the oldest players in the personalized radio game – launched back in 2000, the service aimed to help users discover new music in the ever-growing artist jungle, which the 21st century was well on the way to create. The service is still going today, with an ad-supported freemium model, or $4.99 / month paid subscription, albeit it’s limited to the United States, New Zealand, and Australia only. Unfortunately, Pandora has been having trouble to transition to mobile, with most of its revenue still coming from desktop-using subscribers. There were talks about the company negotiating a partnership with various SoC manufacturers (Samsung, Sony, Panasonic) to embed its services on to the tech giants’ products, though, nothing has yet come out of that.
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