Music streaming services are a convenient way to explore and find and listen to new music. In addition, they are increasingly a great way to create personal playlists and mixes and share them with friends through social networks. The five services listed below are among the very best currently available. In the past, most streaming music services were fee-based, but most now have free ad-based or soon ad-free subscription levels.
Spotify was founded in Sweden and launched in October of 2008. In less than three years it has become widely celebrated as the leading model for music streaming services worldwide. The primary keys to Spotify's success are its ease of use, access via mobile devices, and integration with Facebook and Twitter social networks. Subscriptions are available at three levels. One is free and ad-supported, the other two require monthly fees. A credit card or pay pal account is required for all subscribers. Currently Spotify is available in the US, UK, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. Denmark will be added soon.
Rdio was created by co-founders of Skype, the online communication service, and officially launched in August 2010. Rdio is strongly integrated with social media and allows you to follow the listening habits of friends as well as share songs with them. It has two pay subscription levels while currently offering a free trial period. For the free trial, you may sign up through your Facebook account and no credit card is required. Rdio is available in the US and Canada.
Rhapsody is the veteran of music streaming services. It was officially launched in December of 2001. One of Rhapsody's key strengths is the written content provided to accompany the music. Rhapsody has recently begun to integrate with social networking such as Facebook. Rhapsody offers a free trial and multiple paid subscription levels. In January 2011 Rhapsody announced that they had a subscription base of 750,000 users.
Slacker was founded in 2004 by Celite Milbrandt and Dennis Mudd, former CEO of MusicMatch which has become Yahoo!'s LaunchCast. Slacker is designed as a service for building personal radio stations. Users choose artists they wish to hear and song lists are automatically generated based on those preferences. Slacker may be used for free, but purchasing subscriptions allows more flexibility in what is heard and the ability to skip songs.