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January 22, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 2:22pm

Top 5 online music services

We pick five of the best online services for music inspiration and discovery.

By Kate Heslop

The internet changed the face of the music industry, with mp3 downloads beating classic vinyl or CDs. Although there has been a growth in record sales, probably down to nostalgia and hardcore music fans and collectors, there has been a decline in CD sales over the past few years. But music streaming services continue to be popular, as they are undoubtedly the easiest and quickest ways to access new music.

Streaming music online has become more prevalent than ever, with Spotify leading the way, carefully carving the future of the music industry. The service has seen many copycats, some good, some bad, some illegal. Illegal downloading cripples the music industry, but there are some great legal music streaming and downloading websites and apps out there. I pick five of the best, that are not only a great source of music inspiration and collection for keen listeners, but are also keeping the industry afloat, by introducing new acts that don’t get mainstream radio play, and charging where charging is due.

 


 

5. eMusic

eMusic

eMusic is an online music store that rivals the likes of the iTunes store. By signing up to the website, you could save 25-50% on music’s retail prices, with many songs at just 49p.

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The service allows you to discover new music, and download your favourites at a lower price than other services. It also has music reviews and features, that makes eMusic more than just a music store, but a place where you can discover new music, and find alternative bands that would not normally get a lot of media coverage.

4. Last.fm

Last.fm

Last.fm is a totally free online streaming service that lets users discover new music based on personal music tastes.

‘The Scrobbler’ feature allows the service to track your listening habits so it can then make informed suggestions on new music that you might be interested in.

You can also join the Last.fm community to join discussions and tag tracks, making it more social.

3. Rdio

Rdio

Rdio, from the creators of Skype, was launched in the UK in 2013. The ‘personal jukebox’ is a music streaming service that gives users an ad-free and unlimited music experience, with a library of around 18 million songs.

The service also has a social aspect, as it allows users to follow each other, letting people discover what their friends and favourite artists are listening to.

Rdio is free for the first six months, then it is £4.99 a month for web streaming and £9.99 a month for both web and mobile.

2. SoundCloud

SoundCloud

SoundCloud was originally launched to allow artists to share their music, a way for new musicians to break into the industry and a place to upload a variety of free songs for their growing fanbase.

You can browse trending music to find out what’s currently popular, or sift through different genres to discover something new or interesting. You can even hear new songs from your favourite bands by checking out their SoundCloud account, as it is often a place where artists will release previously unreleased tracks.

It’s also easy to share music, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, on Facebook and Twitter, making SoundCloud a mix of both a musical and social experience.

1. Spotify

Spotify

Spotify is arguably the most popular music streaming service, allowing you to search for music and listen to as many free songs as you wish. It not only allows you to listen to specific songs, artists and albums, but lets you discover new music by listening to playlists created by other users. You can also listen to its radio service, which allows you to pick the first song, and then Spotify will choose a range of songs to follow that it believes you will like.

The only minor flaw is the adverts in between songs, but if you sign up for the Premium service for £9.99 a month there are no adverts and you are able to download music and listen to it offline in playlists.

Spotify recently scrapped its music limits for all users, allowing you to listen to as many songs on repeat as you like, with zero restrictions.

According to Spotify, it has over six million paying subscribers and over 24 million active users overall. There are over 1.5 billion playlists so far on the website and over 20,000 songs are added every day.

Spotify is not just a place to listen to your favourite artists, it’s a service that lets you discover old and new bands, hear what your friends are listening to, and personalises the listening experience with radio and playlists.

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