I did a similar tip back a year back – and literally, it’s just a year old – and now I’ve decided to rehash the tip again. Why? Well, the fact is that there are plenty of new services I just discovered and the fact that a flood of streaming services have just within a year opened their doors – the most recent one being Pandora. So, why not update the list and add some of the new entries.
Of course, I’ve tried to make sure these services let you stream music – either individually or like a radio station. I’ve also tried to accommodate a lot of music genres, and this time the criteria has changed to be accessible within Australia. Some of the sites, however, are accessible internationally.
For those who want a recap – here were my top five picks from last year:
– We are Hunted
– The Hype Machine
Four of them are still on the list – another six are new. I hope you enjoy it!
We Are Hunted
For those looking for new and indie music, We Are Hunted is the best place to look for (with Triple J’s Unearthed). This was on our previous list of the five best places, but I still love it. Plus, did we mention that it’s Australian?
We Are Hunted aggregates the most popular songs across many platforms – including from blogs and social media – and creates a list of the top 99 songs. The songs are provided via SoundCloud, and in many cases you’ll be able to hear the entire song. It also has an option to listen to songs by a particular artist, even if they are not in the chart – such as Gotye and Florence and the Machine.
We are Hunted also has an Android app, and can be found on several iOS devices like SuperSonic and Pocket Hipster.
Spotify launched to a big fanfare this year in Australia. But don’t you have to pay for it? Well, yes – but only if you want to listen to it on your mobile, store it offline, have your songs in a higher quality and with no ads. Basically, I’m trying to tell you that Spotify has a free alternative – but you’ll have to live with the annoying ads from Virgin Mobile and Commonwealth Bank.
But Spotify’s free version is remarkably generous in that you have no limits on how many songs you can play every month. It’s library largely contains those from big record labels, but there are some indie bands out there. My recent addiction, Mother Falcon, is on there and not on JB Hi Fi Now (though, that said, it is an American indie band not Australian)
You can download the app for Windows and Mac (there is a way to get it on Linux as well), and you’ll need to link your Facebook account for it.
Pandora launched in 2005 and was the very first service that, in combination with iTunes, kickstarted the digital music trend. Pandora offers suggestions of songs based on artist, genre and the song itself, giving you a personalised radio station. While now we can select songs and playlists, Pandora still has a place as a recommendation engine, and a way to listen to music while you do work.
But why wasn’t this on our list beforehand? Well, in 2007, Pandora shut itself to international users and became US-only. This was due to legal problems and to stay protected by the DMCA – and the US, surprisingly, was the only country at that time that had such provisions to allow Pandora to still be around. But now, five years later, it has now started to open up – with Australia and New Zealand the first countries.
Like I said, Pandora is more a radio-like service online, personalised to your music tastes. You won’t be able to download, or repeat songs, but it’s a great service just to find new music. Pandora is free, but also advertising-supported. There is a paid subscription, which also lets you access the desktop application and higher-quality audio.
Grooveshark is pretty controversial – it’s a streaming service, a search engine and a recommendation engine with its library based on what its users upload to the service. And it’s also being sued for copyright violations and not paying royalties – and pretty much the Big Four record labels are in the process of suing them.
However, while its legality is up in the air, it’s a pretty good service to stream music. It does have advertising – which you can turn off – and desktop apps. It does have mobile apps, but the iOS one requires you to jailbreak your phone and the Android app might not run on your phone because it’s not on Google Play and you have to download it directly from the site.
Where Grooveshark is helpful is for international musicians because somewhere, out in the big world, someone has managed to acquire the album and has posted it on Grooveshark. And if you are into K-Pop or J-Pop, then this might help.
The Hype Machine
The Hype Machine is essentially a collection of music blogs in one easy location. As such, the library is pretty much reliant on what these blogs it tracks has – this has meant that the library is a lot of remixes of songs, and a lot of DJs because the files are available online to stream anyway. However, you do get a filter to turn off remixes. It serves predominantly to both the indie and those looking for dubstep and electronic music – especially those lesser known.
It also has several mobile apps – especially on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The last two, however, are unofficial. The iOS and Windows Phone app do require you to pay for it – the iOS app charging $2.99 and the Windows Phone unofficial app 99c. But these apps regardless is pretty much the same as what you get on the web.
There is a radio show – released every month – that plays a selection of songs that were popular on the site, in addition with interviews with indie bands. It is available on the apps, and as a podcast for free.
If you never heard of the site, the name should give it away. It basically allows users to select 8 or more tracks and add them to a playlist. Like Pandora, it tries to match each playlist to a mood, genre and artist – but because these are selected by users, rather than a computer, it has a more personalised touch.
However, while it is advertising-supported, the ads do not insert themselves into the playlist like Spotify. And I’m very surprised at the breadth of songs available – many of which aren’t that big name, or international.
Of course, there is a “premium version” of the site – with no ads, but with other features (it’s more like Reddit, in which its features are being rolled out as it happens). It also has apps on iPhone and Android, with an unofficial Windows Phone and WebOS app.
Triple J Unearthed
Want to listen to some Australian indie music? Triple J Unearthed pretty much has you covered. The site, run by the aforementioned station owned by the ABC, helps you discover the best new talents in the Australian music scene.
We should note that there are two components – the digital radio station, which can be streamed online, and then there’s the website. Bands upload songs to the site and then they get played on the digital station, and users can download the song for free. Each song also comes with reviews, so you can track how others like it or not – and even Triple J radio hosts post their own reviews.
Yes, I know Deezer is a paid subscription service, but we’re not going to focus on that aspect. We’re focusing on what it gives for free – and that is its radio channels.
Again, it’s like Pandora where it plays a selection of songs based on artists and genres. While you don’t get the option, like Spotify Free, to play individual songs or albums If you want an alternative to Pandora to discover artists that are similar to one of your favourites or to a particular genre, this might satisfy.
Of course, if you want to use Deezer like Spotify, then get ready to pay $7.49 per month. While there are apps, since you’re a free user, you can’t use them to stream radio.
Another indie-music site, except more like Triple J Unearthed than We Are Hunted (but no radio station). The site is a place where indie bands and artists can upload their songs and make them available for download. There is no discovery service, meaning that you actually have to go through artists and see if they match or not, but at least there is a music chart and a list of what’s being currently listened to – both which help you get started.
In many cases, artists put their songs available for download for free – however, in many cases artists link to other stores where users can purchase the song. In terms of sharing, you can embed the song with its player.
MySpace basically refocused itself to become a “leading social entertainment destination” – and that includes music. It’s music service is pretty decent – you can play a lot of major label stuff in full, including albums (as mentioned previously). But what you didn’t know is that it also has a “radio” mode based on the artist and song.
The library, as mentioned, has a lot of major label content. However, it does have indie stuff on there – pretty much a holdover from its previous incarnation where a lot of up-and-coming bands posted their tracks on MySpace (when it was cool). The music service is available online only, and you don’t even have to sign up for MySpace or use your FaceBook account.
Though, it would be helpful if it was on one page, rather than making me open another windows to use it.