A GigaOM guide to streaming music services

Streaming music

Streaming music services seem to be coming out of everywhere these days, with all kinds of features, capabilities and pricing structures. Now, with Apple finally getting into the mix with iTunes Radio, there are more than a dozen options to choose from that are accessible via both your personal computer and your mobile phone.

How can one person choose?

While there are a lot of areas where services overlap (streaming radio, obviously, is a core component in all of them), it’s the little details that make the decision a lot easier. Services like Google Play Music All Access and iTunes radio work intimately with your current library to provide music you own in addition to endless listening options, which make them strong bets for those with extensive music libraries. Spotify and Rdio are better suited for smaller libraries in need of augmentation, especially since you can download your playlists to your computer for local listening offline

And, of course, there’s the price tag. Some services are completely free — provided you sit through ads — while others range from $25 for the whole year to $17.99 per month for an in-depth family plan. These premium options often offer a little bit more in terms of functionality, but are a commitment if you’re just looking for some streaming to get through your workday.

Here’s a handy graph to help you get through it all, and find a great service for you.

Service Price (per month) Streaming radio Custom playlists Purchase songs Extras
google play logoGoogle Play Music: All Access $7.99 Yes Yes Yes, Google Play Comes with storage of 20,000 songs
grooveshark logoGrooveshark Free ad-supported, $9 unlimited with native mobile access and premium features Yes Yes No Ability to “broadcast” your playlist to the public and listen to other broadcasts
iheartradioi heart radio Free ad-supported Yes No Yes, iTunes/Amazon Local radio station streaming, Optional “add-ins” for local traffic and weather, limited skips
iTunes Radio logoiTunes Radio Free with ads, $25/yr unlimited Yes No Yes, iTunes “Exclusive songs”, ad-free version comes with iTunes Match
PandoraPandora Free Yes No Yes, iTunes/Amazon Free mobile use, but limited skips
rdio-logoRdio $4.99 web use, $10.99 unlimited with mobile, $17.99 dual-subscription “family plan” Yes Yes Yes, through Rdio Local downloads of songs,
rhapsody_logo_bw1Rhapsody $9.99, $14.99 for 3 mobile devices Yes Yes Yes, but only through PC software Tracks downloadable for offline listening.
slacker music logoSlacker Free ad-supported, $3.99 unlimited, $9.99 premium Yes Yes, premium only No Offline radio stations for unlimited and premium, radio add-ons, mobile playlists for premium
songza logoSongza Free no Yes, but they’re curated No limited skips, but endless available streaming playlists
spotify-logoSpotify Free with ads, $5 unlimited, $10 premium with mobile Yes Yes No Third-party apps, local downloads of songs
twitter musicTwitter Music Full songs unlocked without Spotify Premium, iTunes Radio or Rdio Yes No Yes, iTunes Has trending songs via Twitter, songs work in Twitter stream
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