Your Guide to Streaming Music Websites
Cost: Free with commercials; $3 a month for commercial-free listening and mobile access.
How it Works: Name favorite artists to create a custom radio station. Or use the free tool, the Scrobbler. It analyzes your music choices to provide recommendations from the 14.7 million tunes in the collection.
Cool Perks: Users get local concert suggestions and entertaining stats and graphs about their listening habits.
Drawbacks: You can’t store and listen to your Last.fm music offline. No Beatles.
Best for: Budget-minded listeners looking for music similar to what they already know and like.
*All information was current at press time.
Cost: Free with limited listening; $5 a month to download the commercial-free desktop version and stream online or on select devices; $10 a month for mobile and in-car access.
How it Works: Troll the site’s collection of nearly 15 million songs to make custom playlists and curate radio streams. You can also listen to other users’ public playlists.
Cool Perks: Best sound quality and an intuitive site design. You can save the songs you’ve listened to as a playlist and, with the premium package, download and store songs on your phone.
Drawbacks: Lets you share your listening choices, but social-media integration is otherwise fairly basic. No Beatles.
Best for: Connoisseurs of highbrow symphonic music and listeners who appreciate superior sound.
Cost: Free with commercials and limited song-skipping; $36 a year for no commercials and more song-skipping.
How it Works: Create personalized radio channels based on favorite songs, artists, and composers. There are also preset genre stations, such as 80s Pop, Classic Rock, and Today’s Hits.
Cool Perks: You can use it with social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, but you aren’t required to. More than 15,000 comedy tracks.
Drawbacks: Smallest song collection in the bunch (about 900,000 tunes); no rewinding; you can’t merge your own songs with its library.
Best for: Tech novices who want a service that’s easy to use.
Cost: Free with limited listening; $5 a month for unlimited online streaming; $10 a month for mobile and offline listening. Premium family plans are available for $18 to $23 a month.
How it Works: Stream specific albums and tunes from the library of more than 14 million songs; make playlists.
Cool Perks: Allows you to “follow” other users (whether friends or music pros). Has a large collection of artist bios—a plus for trivia buffs.
Drawbacks: Limited selection in alternative genres; sound quality could be sharper; no Beatles.
Best for: Music-loving families. It’s the only service that lets you register multiple accounts on a single plan.
Cost: Free with commercials; $4 a month for commercial-free listening and unlimited song skipping; $10 a month for on-demand songs.
How it Works: Create stations, listen to more than 150 preset channels, and, with the $10 version, put together playlists from the catalog of around 10 million songs.
Cool Perks: News and music-festival broadcasts available; listening on mobile phones doesn’t require cell-plan data use.
Drawbacks: You can’t integrate your own songs into playlists; few people use the service with Facebook or Twitter.
Best for: Contemporary-music fans who are looking to rock out on their cell phones.
Cost: Free with commercials; $5 a month for commercial-free listening; $10 a month for offline and mobile access.
How it Works: Form personalized playlists using songs you already own and those from the library of 16 million songs. Or make custom radio stations featuring artists of your choice.
Cool Perks: Free applications that help you find new music and enhance your experience. (Songkick pinpoints local concerts; TuneWiki displays lyrics.)
Drawbacks: It can be a little tricky to hide what you’re listening to from your friends’ Facebook news feeds. Limited classical-music selection; no Beatles.
Best for: Serious Facebook devotees. It seamlessly blends social networking with music listening.