Beyond Pandora

Many sites offering streaming music


We’ve all heard of Pandora, that music streaming website and app on iPods, but not many hear of the competitors. I compared many of the most popular, rising and not so popular music streaming websites and applications for mobile devices, and came up with some critical differences between them.

To start I’m going to give feedback on the top music streaming website, Pandora. I did a search of 10 songs on their site and found that they did not do individual songs, but instead played songs by artists and music/artists that they deem similar or of the same genre as those I searched.

Pandora’s mobile app has all your favorite stations that you can arrange by date or by alphabetical order. The app still has QuickMix instead of the Shuffle, like in the computer app, but it does the same thing. Your stations tab is what the app opens up to, with a new station tab right next to that, which features the search box for other artists, genres or songs. I didn’t like that fact, because I like listening to the artist I searched.

Also, they only let you skip so many songs per hour, so if you run into a lot of songs you don’t like and run out of skips, you either have to deal with it or switch to another station. On a more positive note, Pandora has a great range in music and a station for almost all genres and artists. They make the commercials between songs (when they do interrupt your music tuning) entertaining, and they aren’t too long so you can get back to rocking out soon.

I also checked out a rising station similar to Pandora; SLACKER, and it is becoming a big competitor. In 2004, SLACKER debuted, but they struggled to launch. In 2006 SLACKER started to take off but still had a hard time comparing to Pandora, the almost monopolised Internet music streaming sensation. They had four million monthly users, but that was only a small fraction of Pandora’s 65 million users a month. SLACKER was even below the new iHeartRadio, which had nearly 50 million users on its app. To try to promote SLACKER, Craig Rechenmacher, SLACKER’s chief marketing officer released this statement: “We had to be honest with where we were in the marketplace. We had to be disruptive in the marketplace, and we needed something that targets our competitors and the holes in their service.”

I enjoyed SLACKER more than Pandora because it has a wider range in music, and it stayed a lot closer to my search than Pandora did. I hope SLACKER will make it’s rise and give Pandora a run for it’s money.

Vevo, the music video website that Youtube tends to run on, is a great place to find videos and lyric videos of your favorite songs and artists. It runs on a simple server that sticks to the search and gives you the song you want. The longer I played around with the Vevo app, the more I liked it. The website is very slick, and the videos that do load have excellent sound and video quality, but sadly, the Vevo app does not play continuously, so you can’t listen to music on the go. My interest quickly waned when I ran into long loading times and different songs than what I had chosen. Vevo is strictly a music video app/website, and its main use is for downtime entertainment.

Rdio, yes it is spelled right, turned out to be my personal favorite, and it offers a great search engine and a great range in songs and artists. There are an estimated 15 million tracks on the entire website.

The sound quality is great, and the layout is simple. It’s not hard to navigate the site because they offer a search bar where you type in the name of the artist/song, and it gives you albums, greatest hits, singles and playlists created by fellow Rdio users. The downside, however, is they spam your email if you sign up. It’s not really for mobile use, unless you get the app, but according to reviews, they complicated the desktop, and they are also quite secretive about the 320KB content, and it doesn’t disclose the amount of memory each song takes up (though with today’s memory storage, I don’t think a song is even going to leave a discernible mark.) The Rdio website, and I assume the app, spam like crazy with offers and updates on top picks and advertisements, but you can’t blame them for trying to make some cash.

Overall, Rdio is a good selection if you have a song in your mind, or just an artist, and it is free as an app and online sign-up and download (you do not have to download the computer version).

Collegehumor, the YouTube sensation of comedy and parodies, but not solely music streaming, has its own website now, and it’s really entertaining. It does have an app for any mobile device, but it is not strictly music. The site has skits, parodies and vlogs to choose from, but it does not list any serious songs. They are all parodies, so if you are looking for a streaming website, then this is not what you are looking for.

Songza, a site very similar to Pandora, is a great choice for a streaming website. It gives a search bar for stations that can be chosen through genres or artists, and they are grouped through like songs. Songza has a great range in music and offers even more if you sign up. They don’t spam too bad — a few emails here and there offering music deals and other advertisements. Songza, however, unlike Pandora, does not list how many songs they have in their database, but I did the best I could doing a wide search of songs from “Chocolate Rain” to “White Trash Party,” “Sound of Silence” to “Downfall of Us All,” Dolly Parton to Lil’ Wayne. I got hits on all and concluded that they have an impressive range in music. It is free all the way around, and the sound quality is great. It lets you share and connect to Facebook, Twitter and buy it from iTunes, unlike Pandora. The website is social, but not the app.

Pandora has multiple competitors, some known, some just learned, and some to be discovered yet. The best is yet to be seen, and there are a myriad of different ways to get connected to your favorite songs and artists.

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