[TUNES] Get Your Free Online Music

Category: Music

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche did not overstate music’s importance by much. Fortunately, there's plenty of music available for free, via the Web or mobile devices. Here are some of the best places to find and listen to music online...

Where to Get Free Music

Many people can’t wake up in the morning, or even shower, without tunes in their ears. The morning commute, the humdrum of the office, the tedium of the gym, even making dinner can be unbearable without the sound of our favorite music.

But if you pay for all that sound, it’s going to run you a pretty penny: $10/month for the premium versions of Apple Music, Google Play, or Spotify, to name some of the best-reviewed streaming music services. Pandora’s $5/month or $55/year is about as low as you can go and still get a great library of songs with a decent set of playback features.

For those on a budget, here are some free streaming music options. They differ from subscription services in convenience, audio quality, and depth. In some cases, your listening will be interrupted by ads. But they may be sufficient to fill your need for any sound other than the real ones surrounding you.

Free Online Music (Audio Technica AT-PL50 turntable)

Spotify, with 40 million subscribers, is the most popular online music service. It supports streaming a wide variety of music on desktop, Web, and tablet apps. You can create playlists of your favorite songs, but on a phone you can only listen to your playlists in “shuffle mode;” songs from the list are played in random order, and the number of times you can skip an undesired song is limited. The idea is to annoy you into paying for premium service that eliminates these nuisances. Also, free phone users cannot download and listen to tunes offline, so if your phone’s Internet service is spotty, Spotify may be the wrong choice for free music.

Pandora offers a huge selection of radio stations; that’s it, no libraries in which to store your own music files, no on-demand titles. But Pandora has done a very good job of organizing its stable of radio stations by genre, and its apps quickly learn your musical tastes by the likes and skips that you make.

Pandora's Music Genome technology analyzes the melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, lyrics and vocal styles of songs. This enables Pandora to suggest a playlist of artists and songs that you'll probably enjoy, even if you've never heard them before. I've discovered some music I really like this way. If you want to click on button and hear a lot of your favorite tunes all day without much more effort, Pandora is for you. (Note: Pandora acquired Rdio in November, 2015, absorbing Rdio’s music assets.)

More Online Music Options

Vinyl records and turntables are making a comeback! Back in 1982 I was in college, and wanting a direct-drive turntable. But it had to be $50 or less. My housemate said I might find an inferior belt-drive model for that price, but no way could I get a direct-drive. There was no Craigslist or eBay then, but I found exactly what I was looking for in a local thrift store. I still have that Audio Technica AT-PL50, pictured above.

Slacker, like Pandora, is all-radio. You pick an artist, song, or genre, and it will play a sequence of songs that are related. With the free version, you're not guaranteed to hear the specific song or artist you selected, but usually it rolls around before long. You also can’t skip commercials, and song skips are limited in the free version. There’s no saving of playlists or your own tunes for offline listening. Upgrade to Slacker Radio Plus ($4/month) and you get unlimited song skips, no ads, song lyrics and the ability to download songs on mobile for offline listening. Slacker is renowned for the crisp, hi-fidelity sound it delivers. One of its three main categories is Talk Radio.

iHeartRadio includes a library of 15 million on-demand songs, as well as live streams from over 1,500 radio stations. You can create “custom stations” based on songs and artists; essentially, these are playlists of songs streamed from the library. Custom stations are ad-free. The downside of iHeartRadio is rudimentary control; no pausing, skipping, or rewind.

Google Play Music debuted in June 2015, with an interesting mix of features in the free version (ad-supported, of course). You can listen to Google-curated radio stations; create a custom station based on a song, artist, or album; or listen to music you own. Google Play Music lets you upload up to 50,000 songs that you have purchased anywhere else, and roll your own playlists from them.

And of course, there's always Youtube. Just search for a song or artist, and you'll probably find what you're after. Youtube does allow you to create playlists, or you can load up a playlist that someone else has created.

I've listed just a handful of the most popular online music options. Do you use one of these, or do you have another that you prefer? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[TUNES] Get Your Free Online Music"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

I find most any music I want to hear on YouTube. I record it using Audacity and save it to my hard drive, then listen to it whenever I want. Some may consider it a lot of work, but I've got a considerable library of music WITHOUT spending a considerable amount of cash.

Posted by:

Nate Reiber
20 Jun 2017

There is a site where you can stream or download 1,000s of live songs/shows for free.


Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
20 Jun 2017

Vinyl, CDs, then if I get too lazy to get up Amazon Music and if I don't feel like picking it I go to Sirius-XM where a real DJ who actually knows something about music, often knows the artist personally, picks the tunes and sometimes tells me something I didn't know about it as well as picking new songs for me to enjoy. I hate computer selected music, I hate shuffle mode. I'm no luddite or I wouldn't be reading this, but music is too special to leave to an AI. IMNSHO

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

I love, love, love AccuRadio (accuradio.com). It's free (you have to sign up but it's free) and you can pick among many different channels and kinds of music. They do play what they want but you can rate songs and then usually they will play those songs for you more often. You can also skip a song if you don't like it. And, they have a free app for Android (probably iPhone also but I don't know because I have an Android phone).

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

Thanks Bob! I've used most of your suggestions and all have made me very happy with the music available. I recently donated over 300 cds to a local non profit radio station that has not gone digital. Now most of my music is digital, iPod, on my tablet or computer and an internet radio.I have kept the stereo system with the turntable, but as I downsize my possessions, I think the vinyl will go next. I agree with Jack about turntables, but unlike him I didn't think this was an article about sound quality.

Posted by:

Don Stone
20 Jun 2017

What about YouTube? There's a wealth of music of every kind, most with acceptable audio quality.

While discussing free music on the net, it should not be out of bounds to ask you: What is the legality of readily available free apps that ignore the video part of a YouTube video, and create a mp3 file from the audio? All one needs do is input the video's URL.

Thank you for your time and effort.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

Good suggestions, Bob, although Pandora is only available in the US, Australia and NZ. Also, am listening to Slacker now and it seems I have to click on the PLAY (>) button for every track, not sure I want to interrupt what I am doing every time, but it is good music.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

Toronto at 91.1 on your FM dial www.jazz.fm is an NPO and also is more than happy to accept support.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

I like the options offered by Google Music, especially their playlists that are good ways to hear new music. My YouTube red subscription includes Google Music so I get the music as well as unlimited ad free YouTube videos.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

There's still good ol' terrestrial radio.

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

"...the tedium of the gym"???
Obviously you're not a bodybuilder Bob.

Thanks for another great article!

Posted by:

20 Jun 2017

Don't forget Music2pc: http://www.music2pc.com

It's a non-bittorrent and non-peer-to-peer tool to find and download MP3 tracks from a large database.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2017

I have an old BSR turntable with a diamond needle and a decent selection of LPs to choose from (some are duplicates as I had inherited them).
Great article, Bob! :-)

Posted by:

Jim Swan
21 Jun 2017

This past decade has been disastrous for most of us who are trying to earn money from our music. Finally, after ten years on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and scores of other streaming services, I have instructed my distributor to allow my contract to lapse later this week when it comes due for its annual renewal. In the whole ten years together, I could not earn enough to pay for even one year's distribution fee.

Spotify pays the artist $.00001 per listen. While a few of the very hot and heavily promoted singers are making tons of money, those with maybe something to say but no big advertising budgets to say it with were left out of the revolution.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2017

Great article. I usually listen to Pandora but after reading this article I found that I like iHart radio even better
Thanks Bob

Posted by:

21 Jun 2017


Posted by:

Tom C.
21 Jun 2017

If you subscribe to Amazon Prime and have an Echo, you can stream thousands of songs for no additional cost. Some tunes can only be streamed if you subscribe to Amazon's music service but the number of songs available without a subscription is huge. Remember Beep Beep by the Play=mates? Alexa does.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2017

Live 365 (live365.com) is back operating again and streaming radio stations. No choice, no playlist, no skip but its free. Myself I listen to Jambalaya Jam when I want tunes, it's free too and it plays my favorite genre, Zydeco,Blues, New Orleans sounds and I can't put it down!

Posted by:

29 Jun 2017

I find the term song a laugh. My songs may run up to a few hours. On metered mobile data streaming just for immediate listening is out of the question. Using software such as the free Audacity one can record and save to disc in any format from uncompressed to mp3. Spotify has a wealth of music and a very nice Linux interface.

Posted by:

16 Jul 2017

I live in Canada, so Pandora is not available. It says it only available in USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, there is a way to get around it, by using another program. then it plays in Canada.
www.streamingthe.net is available to play Radio & TV Stations. onlineradiobox.com is another very good link to get radio stations. This one I listen to 590Thefan to get my local Toronto Blue Jays Sportscast reporting. Better than radio over the air. Much Clearer.

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