Best Music Websites for Your Buck

Best Music Websites for Your Buck

Do you have a favorite music website? Share it with other readers on LearnVest's Facebook page, where you'll find tips and connect with like-minded women.

Whether you're listening to Beyoncé circa 2011 or Pearl Jam circa 1993, internet music services are as eclectic as Girl Talk's mash-ups.

But in an already wide arena of music sites, a lot of changes are afoot. Last week, we learned about brand new online DJ site Turntable.fm (which has gained 140,000 users in its first month); one day later, Spotify, a European music-streaming service with over 10 million users, launched in North America.

We’ve tried both … and they’re both great. And so are the 20+ sites and services like them out there. To save you the time and the drudgery of visiting any music site or service that’s a shade less than excellent, we created a chart with the best of the best.

Check out our findings to see which online music sites and services are worth your time (and, possibly, your money). We judged them on a scale of one to five stars, with our top choice getting a perfect five.

Now, you can finally say good-bye to Youtube-ing your favorite songs at the office.

Website Cost Pros Cons

Grooveshark

Rating: ****

Music search engine and streaming service

Free
  • Can listen to specific songs at will
  • Predicts other songs you'll like
  • Shareable playlists
  • App was recently pulled from official Android market
  • Questions about the site's legality

The Hype Machine

Rating: ***

Listen to bloggers' top picks and create playlists

Free
  • Aggregates music bloggers' posts
  • Play songs while reading about them
  • Can search for specific tracks (if they're offered)
  • Create playlists from tracks
  • Can't rearrange songs within playlists
  • Looking for a song not discussed on the blog? You're out of luck

Last.fm

Rating: ***

Music search engine and streaming service that recommends music

Free: U.S., U.K. & Germany; All else: 3 euros/mo.
  • Stations based on your favorite artists
  • Tracks your tastes on Last.fm and on Hype Machine to make recommendations
  • Can listen to only 30 second-previews of specific songs
  • Hard to navigate the website
  • Design is functional but boring

Pandora

Rating:***

Streams music channels—not a search engine

Free; premium version: $36/year
  • Stations based on your favorite artists
  • Technology predicts songs you'll like

 

  • Can't skip to specific songs
  • Songs loop after a while
  • Only 40 free hours per month

Rdio

Rating: **

Subscription music search engine with streaming and downloading services

$5/mo. to play music online; $10 for mobile
  • 8.5 million songs available
  • Use it like iTunes ... but you don't have to own the music
  • Share playlists with other users
  • Song selection more limited than competitors
  • No free option

Rhapsody

Rating: **

Subscription music search engine with streaming and downloading services

$10/mo. for one mobile device or mp3 player; $15 for up to three devices
  • 12 million songs
  • Use it like iTunes ... but you don't have to own the music
  • Works with many different smartphones
  • No free option
  • More expensive than other streaming services

Spotify

Rating: *****

Music search engine and streaming service

Free version; $5/mo. for unlimited ; $10/mo. to stream to mobile
  • Over 15 million songs
  • Use it like iTunes ... but you don't have to own the music
  • Four major record labels on-board
  • Upload your personal music
  • Launched in the U.S. only a week ago
  • Free option is invite-only
  • Free option will eventually be capped at 20 hours per month

The Sixty One

Rating: ***

Streams music channels by new artists

 Free
  • Beautiful website design
  • Dedicated to discovering new artists
  • Selects music for you based on your mood
  • Can't choose tracks at will
  • Few mainstream artists
  • Songs loop after a while
  • Few ways to connect with other users

Turntable.fm

Rating: ****

Enter rooms to listen to other users DJ songs, or create private rooms for you and your friends

Free, but must have a Facebook friend already using the site to enter
  • Up to five users DJ songs from personal collections or site's library
  • Chat discussions
  • Gamer aesthetic: users have avatars and vote on songs they like
  • Still in beta-testing, so there are glitches
  • Library is sufficient, but not yet that comprehensive

Come hang out with the editorial team on Turntable.fm. Sign in to the site, and then search for the "LearnVest" listening room. Tell us which site you like most, and get to know us while we spin our favorite workday jams.

In Other News ...

Amazon gives away free mp3 downloads if you follow them on Twitter. Best feeds to follow for free stuff. Click here.
A lot has changed in over a year. Look at what our favorite picks were just last year. Read this.
Remember Limewire? Here's why it was shut down.

Got a favorite music site that we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments.

 

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