Pandora Radio recently introduced a 40 hour monthly listening limit on mobile devices due to financial reasons within the industry. For people working 9-5 jobs, this means that the limit could be hit after one week of listening at work! Although Pandora claims many users won’t hit the limit, if Pandora is your main source of music, it is likely that you will. Before Pandora instituted this policy, users could listen to Pandora on any device for as long as they wanted.
For those of you unfamiliar with Pandora, the radio service allows users to pick an artist or genre, and Pandora creates a radio station based on the user’s selection. Although the station has advertisements, users could listen to their station for an unlimited amount of time. Pandora also accommodated users by allowing them to “thumbs up” or “thumb down” a selection, which allowed their “Music Genome Project” to play songs more to the user’s liking. However, due to the new 40 hour limit, Pandora lovers are now looking elsewhere to listen to music as much as they’d like. While Pandora still offers unlimited listening with the the premium ‘Pandora One’ service for $3.99 per month or $36 per year, you may still be looking for a free service to stream your music. Below are five alternatives to check out.
1. Spotify – Spotify has revolutionized music streaming. The service allows users to stream any song in their database for an unlimited amount of time. Users can choose the free version, which allows them to use the service from their desktop with advertisements or pay $9.99 for a premium version that can be accessed on other mobile devices with no advertisements. Spotify does not have a listening limit and has additional features that make it an attractive option. The ability to create and share playlists, as long as install add-on applications allows users to totally customize their experience.
2. Last.FM – Last.FM is also free, and is often underrated in the music world. Last.FM “scrobbles” all of your songs and creates statistics on your music listening, including most played tracks and artists. Last.FM users can play a “My Neighborhood” radio for free which allows the service to play music similar to music you’ve scrobbled from iTunes, Spotify, etc. This service is free and has advertisements, although a subscription to the site can be purchased for access to more features on the site.
3. Google Music – Google does everything, and music is no exception. Google Music allows you to sync your music library to the cloud and displays your playlists and songs in an interface similar to iTunes. Although there is not an option to play music similar to your own, users still have the luxury of listening to their own music from any location with Internet access.
4. Songza - While Songza does not pick music based on what you like, they do allow you to play music based on how you feel. The music concierge service provides playlists based on the time of day or activities that people are participating in (working out, going to work, hanging out with friends). The playlists are commercial free and can be played for an unlimited amount of time.
5. YouTube “Playlists” - Although not the most practical, YouTube is still an option. YouTube has revolutionized videos on the web. YouTube has introduced a queue which allows users to put together a selection of videos to play one after another. While advertisements vary based on the popularity of a video or a song, users may be able to sequence videos of their favorite songs together in a string. Although this is an different method of putting music together, it will be available to people regardless of their location. Users can create their own playlists or access ones that others have made.
6. 8tracks - 8tracks allows you to combine two different music styles to create an ultimate playlist (study and indie, dubstep and mashups). From your choices, 8tracks will over you different playlists to listen to. Users can either listen to a pre-made playlist or create one of their own. Each playlists contains (you guessed it) at least 8 tracks. 8tracks users can follow accounts that they enjoy, which allows them to connect socially on the site.
While some of these methods may require a sign-in and some may have more advertisements than others, the above options do not have a listening limit. Pandora’s rule may have lost them a lot of users, and other sites should begin to expect more users. In a technological world where access is unlimited, music should be the same way.
All of the above mentioned options have both a desktop and mobile version, so you can take your music with you wherever you go.
Have you changed your Pandora listening habits since they instituted the 40-hour per month rule on mobile? What’s your favorite alternative?