Music Streaming

The interwebs offers a slew of music streaming services, all of which can be accessed from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, laptop, desktop, and in some cases even your smart TV or set top box like Apple TV or Roku! What exactly is music streaming? When you stream music, you are locally playing music that exists on a remote server. Instead of waiting for your device to download an entire song or album before you can listen to it, streaming allows you to simply click play and begin listening instantly.

Popular music streaming services:

  1. Pandora
  2. 8tracks
  3. Songza
  4. Spotify
  5. SoundCloud
  6. Slacker
  7. Google Play


Pandora is the bread and butter of music streaming services. It is one of the oldest streaming services and possibly the most popular. After creating an account, you personalize it by adding stations named after and categorized by your favorite songs and artists. For example, you can create a station based on Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Your “American Pie” station will play other Don McLean songs and other artists’ songs that are similar in style to “American Pie.” I have a “The Beatles” station that not only plays The Beatles music but other 60’s artists with a similar sound.

Once you have created your stations, you can play your Pandora radio by shuffling all stations, playing a single station, or selecting specific stations for the player to play from. You can always add or remove stations. Finally, you can fine tune your stations by giving each song a thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up means that you want to hear this song again and that you’d like the station to play more songs like this song. Thumbs down means that you don’t want the station to play this song again.


After creating an 8tracks account, click the Explore button to pull up a list of genre tags and trending playlists. 8tracks works by discovering and playing playlists that other people have created. Of course, you can also create your own. You can discover new playlists by tags, currently trending, newest, or most popular. Unlike Pandora, you know what you are getting with 8tracks. You can listen to the same playlist every day, and you know you will be listening to the same songs. Add 8tracks playlists to your favorites so you can easily access your favorite music from anywhere.


Songza takes the music discovery approach a step further by allowing you to discover new music by genre, activity, mood, decade, or culture. For example, if you’re going through a breakup and yearn for music that understands you, choose Angsty, Gloomy, or Sad from the list of moods. You’ll then be presented with a list of user-created playlists that fit into whatever mood you have selected. Going for a run and don’t want to take the time to create your own 30-60 minute playlist? Find the Activities tab and select Energy Boost. Some of my favorite activity-based playlists on Songza come from the Working/Studying playlists. You can choose lyrics or no lyrics, depending on what works best for you when you need to concentrate.


Spotify is the Facebook of music streaming services. It’s primarily focused on discovering the latest music by seeing what your friends are listening to. You can create your own playlists, listen to friends’ playlists, import music from iTunes or Windows Media Player, and share what you are listening to on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or e-mail.


SoundCloud focuses on streaming music produced by its own users. You can upload songs that you or your band have created, share them, and build playlists out of your own songs and the songs created by other users. You can even share your tracks privately or publicly through e-mail or the usual gamut of social networks.


Slacker operates very similarly to Pandora. It went through a major overhaul earlier this year, and I haven’t had a chance to check out the changes, but it advertises itself as having more than 10 times as much music as Pandora.

Google Play

Google Play allows you to upload up to 20,000 song stored on your computer to Google’s servers so that you can stream it anywhere you have an internet connection.  You can also search for music you don’t have, stream it, buy it, and share it.