If you just can’t take the plethora of vicious 30-second song teases from Last.fm or you’re tired of Pandora’s skip limits and in-stream ads, know that hope is not futile. There are many websites that transcend the mainstream methods of hearing new music:
Type the song you want to hear, and hear it - That may sound simple, but until the discovery of Grooveshark many song seekers were frustrated on Youtube, wading through a void of sup-par middle school bedroom musical covers just to play a song they wanted to hear. The site is a simple and virtually limitless player supported by millions of user uploads.
It’s is a music blog with playlists based on the user’s mood or activity labeled with tags like sunny day, let’s party, chillout, sleepy, romantic, studying and spring cleaning. The playlists are extensive and of relatively well-versed taste. You can skip around within playlists easily and just play from a specific artist within the list if you’re feeling it. Of course, there are limitations and some song selections fit within the mood could be debated. For the most part, they are dead-on, so all in all Stereomood is a convenient, fun and ad-free way to stream music.
If you’re familiar with StumbleUpon, this site is a similar concept. StumbleAudio provides the opportunity to discover new music by scanning channels. They have genre-specific channels with a better recommendation engine than Pandora’s. Another nice perk: For particularly enticing tracks, users have the ability to listen to the entire album.
Pros: 8tracks allows users to listen to personalized, often creative playlists by people who listen to and love music. Free. You can create and upload your own unique mixes.
Cons: Their music license requires a limit on the number of skips allowed. Often, only a few artists featured in the mix are listed and there is no track list so it is much like a blind date with someone else’s music taste.
Songza is hip and free social radio. The site features fun stations like 1000 songs to hear before you die and 90s one hit wonders. There is no skip limit and you can also create your own station.
The selections above are what I consider the best streaming music sites available based on industry reviews and personal use of the sites. Another favorite that features more editorial content (music reviews, articles, etc.) is a Mp3 and music blog aggregator called The Hype Machine.
Jamendo is an honorable mention that features LEGAL and free music downloads. This is a great site if you are looking for any music under the creative commons license.
Spotify offers access to 10 million songs and the ability to make playlists, but it hasn’t fully launched in the US yet. Shuffler.fm, Deezer, Radionomy, and Jango are also good alternatives to Pandora.