Tech

Music Streaming Services in the Post-Lala Internet

Music Streaming Services

Apple’s murder of Lala.com has left many former Lala users searching for a new service, or wishing they never used a service in the first place. Although there is nothing quite like the now deceased Lala, there are alternatives that are not iTunes.

In no particular order, here is a general list of some Internet radio and music streaming services with a brief description of their features. We have not included every service, so feel free to add additional suggestions (including links) in the comment section.

Slacker

The Slacker.com website is formatted like a music player, and it encourages you to start searching for songs and playing right away. Searching is kind of a hit and miss affair, if the artists or songs you want are not very popular. The radio stations play random songs based on the artists, genre, or similar bands you select. The site also has an online store that features a portable Slacker G2 radio device. Subscription services allow users to create custom stations and add only the songs they want. The basic subscription fee is $4.99 per month.

Pandora

One of the first sites to utilize the random “similar artists” features, Pandora is all about exploring your music interests and finding songs and artists similar to ones you already like. Users can seamlessly create stations based on their approval or disapproval of songs. Each song has a “buy” link in the corner, and Pandora also has a subscription service for $36 per year ($4 per month) which removes advertisements, increases bitrate, and provides a dedicated music player.

Last.fm

The old kid on the block, Lastfm has both free and paid services.  On the website, users can search for their favorite artists and play specific songs from their albums. They can also use the Audioscrobbler to recommend songs based on their tastes, creating a personal playlist of similar artists and genres. Last.fm incorporates many social media elements, allowing users to add others as friends, view YouTube videos, rate, comment, and more. For $3 per month, subscribers get more radio options, no advertising, and other features.

Grooveshark

Grooveshark.com has one of the most impressive player interfaces, which is unfortunately completely Flash-based (sorry iPad users). The UI provides the user with the look and feel of a desktop music player, even down to double-clicking search results to add them to the playlist. Users can directly search for specific songs and play them, which is something Lala users will like. The VIP service costs $3 per month or $30 per year and provides users with ad-free access, Last.fm scrobbling, an Adobe Air desktop app (Windows, Mac, and Linux), and a mobile app for Blackberry, Android, Palm, and jailbroken iPhones.

Jamendo

While most streaming sites specialize in offering commercial artists with big industry record deals, Jamendo takes a different approach. Even if you have your own local band, you can go global by giving away your music on Jamendo.com. The site offers its users a way to stream or download complete albums under Creative Commons licenses. The artists, who are often independent, get needed exposure, and the listeners get some quality music they probably would not hear anywhere else. Jamendo Pro allows businesses to license the music on Jamendo for background music, multimedia projects, and performance rights. Prices start at $144 per year.

Spotify

This is a service that wants to give you exactly what you want when you want it.  You search for the exact song you want and play it. Features include playlists, mobile access, sharing, purchase links, and “offline mode“.  Their desktop application works on Mac OS X and Windows (but not Linux), and here is the biggest catch of all: Spotify is not available in certain countries, including the US. This has to do with licensing issues and is probably best left to another article.  Listeners in the UK, France, and other European countries can download and use Spotify for free.

Libre.fm

Free is always better, right?  Libre.fm believes that and offers users the ability to legally listen to, download, recommend, and share tracks from independent artists. They also promise complete privacy (not even logging IP addresses). Libre.fm is powered by GNU FM, the free and open source answer to Last.fm.

Jango

Jango takes a more radio station approach to music, similar to Last.fm, offering users the ability to search for artists and songs, create radio stations of similar artists, read information, view pictures, share interests, read lyrics and generally be very social with other users who like the same content. Users can also tune in to specific songs by going to an artist page.  Each song also has a buy button that gives you the choice of iTunes and Amazon.com.  Like Last.fm, the site also links to YouTube videos. Unlike the other services, Jango does not offer a paid subscription service.

Your choice of music streaming really depends on what you want. If you are looking to explore new music, services like Pandora might be exactly what you have always wanted. If you are picky and only want the artists and songs you like, Grooveshark might fit you perfectly. Finally, if you want to explore the boundaries of the music industry and be the first to discover the latest independent music sensation, Jamendo or Libre.fm may be your choice.  Of course, you can always visit any or all of these sites any time you want, which makes the Web as a whole an excellent way to get the music you want.

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I am a librarian with 8 years of experience in information architecture, technology, free and open source software, and electronic publishing. I have written hundreds of articles on topics ranging from information technology to politics. I also write fiction novels, short stories, and fables.

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Discussion 23 Comments

    • Natec07 says:

      So basically, once again, there is nothing like Lala that is out there. Sure, spotify (if you're not in the US – which I am) and (c)Rhapsody if you want to spend 10 bucks a month and also not get quite the expansive library that Lala had. Anyway, I left Apple an email a while back (not like they ever read it, though) and I should probably leave them another one. I basically told them that without Lala's service, file sharing is going to become even more widely used and I am one who is now using it myself. Stop thinking you are just the greatest thing Apple and get your act together and release something that mirrors what Lala offered.

      I agree with whoever said above that Lala was great because it allowed you to sample entire albums if you wanted to for free (you at least got one whole listen to every song – who can sample something with just 30 seconds? – is this the 20th or 21st century?) and in my opinion they also had the most extensive library I have ever seen from anybody except for, of course, the file sharing sites.

  1. DiggyHow says:

    Wow, that is like jsut totally amazing.

  2. Jonnyblair73 says:

    Lots to think about

  3. scottt732 says:

    Not to split hairs here, but your math is off on the premium Pandora pricing. “$36 per year ($4 per month)”.

  4. MattW says:

    Grooveshark offers 1 month free to lala users http://vip.grooveshark.com/lala

  5. Donny Wallace says:

    Napster is pretty cool albeit playlists so you can find music while your head is spinning from remembering 10+ million tracks are almost non-existant. The 90s Alternative section is like “No Rain” and “Sex and Candy” and 5 more songs. It's a slow slow process to find the good stuff and get it on my Squeezebox Boom albeit while I am not up to newer songs for a jukebox playllist, the Boo Radleys who I saw at Lollapaluza have a very cool album. Too bad they didn't get a bigger following….
    Man there sure are a lot of Ys on Napster who want you to pay for their tracks- I expect that from Zeppelin as it was costing over 80,000 to see their reunion and watch Mc.Cartney try to rebuild his “cool factor” by blowing weed in the front row. But the Y kids going almost only 30 second plays on my boom- not cool. I would hook it up to a good stereo but as small as this room the acoustics make that a waste of time…

  6. RhythmGuru says:

    rhapsody.com
    10 bucks per month

    napster.com
    60 bucks per year

  7. Noodles says:

    8tracks.com is really nice when you want to browse certain genres. You can also choose a “genre” to reflect your mood such as “chill”, “happy”, “sad”, etc.

  8. Darsh says:

    My favorite is http://www.uvumi.com because it's 100% free and has tons of great music you have never heard!

  9. jgsiv says:

    Rhapsody gets my vote. I really like MOG and Rdio but Rhapsody has the biggest and best catalog by far for $10 per month. Recent updates to their iPhone app help make it the obvious choice. I am anxious to see what happens with MOG once their app is approved (if ever).

  10. Anon says:

    what about streaming radio sites like shoutcast.com?

  11. Chris says:

    Um…what about Rhapsody? It has 9 million albums you can listen to for $10 a month, as well as download to an mp3 player. It's the closest thing to Spotify you can find in the States. I'm a recent user, and I love it. There's also Microsoft's “Zune Pass”, which is like Rhapsody for for Zune players only.

    • Yetionajetski says:

      Zune Pass works with any silverlight enabled web browser to stream specific songs or 'smart dj' recommendations. No Zune player is necessary for the web streaming.

  12. Guest says:

    Last.fm > Pandora >>> Slacker >>>>>> Grooveshark.

    And Spotify is the holy grail.

  13. Bahamut5098 says:

    For lots of electronic music (from techno to psychill), try DI.FM. It's free and there's only one 30 second commercial every 3 hours. Amazing for being free.

    Soma.fm is another one, great selection of music to choose from, and completely free!

    ITunes also has a lot of radio stations for numerous genres, Windows Media Player finds similar radio stations as well.

    Free is better IMO.

  14. Citizenk says:

    give http://www.qobuz.com a try, it's by far the best audio quality, expensive tho

  15. zephyrxero says:

    So what you're saying is there is NO replacement for Lala? Radio stations like Pandora & Last.fm are great, but they're a completely different type of service. Lala let me list to full albums or specific songs, on demand, for free. As far as I've found the only alternative I've got right now to fill it's void is subscribe to Rhapsody or something like it.

    Thanks a fucking lot Apple :/

  16. For background music for use in commercial locations/applications (retail, restaurant, office, website, etc.) MusicRevolution.com (https://www.musicrevolution.com) offers an Internet music stream based on production music. Monthly subscriptions are $14.99 per location/application and annual subscriptions are $129.99 per location/application.

  17. Johnmichaels21 says:

    ERM hello……….what about MySpace Music? The biggest music streaming service in the US?

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